Every year he’s been in office, President Obama has hosted an “iftar dinner” to honor Islam in the White House. The President has also each time led his speech with the outlandish nonsense that Thomas Jefferson held the “first iftar dinner” in the White House. And every time it’s been utter hogwash. This year’s speech was no different in that respect.
For the 2012 iftar dinner celebration. Obama said the following:
As I’ve noted before, Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia — perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago. And some of you, as you arrived tonight, may have seen our special display, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress — the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. And that’s a reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam — like so many faiths — is part of our national story.
This year’s reference to Jefferson’s so-called iftar dinner is at least a step closer to reality in that Obama said it was “perhaps the first iftar at the White House.” In the past, he was less equivocal. In 2010, for instance, Obama said it was the first iftar dinner.
Tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. And Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan—making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.
But the fact is Jefferson’s dinner was not a “was” nor was it a “perhaps.” It was a wasn’t. President Thomas Jefferson did not hold any iftar dinner, nor did he intend to honor Islam in that way. To claim that the very first president to authorize war against “the Musselmen” — who we today call Muslims — would have hosted a dinner to honor Islam is an absurdity of the first order.