Reflections For Independence Day: Adams, Jefferson, And The Lodi Imam
July 01, 2005, 05:00 AM
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As Independence Day 2005 approaches, I'm thinking about the intertwined lives of Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Also on my mind is one the two imams arrested in my hometown of Lodi, CA. for immigration violations.

How these seemingly disparate topics are related we will soon find out.

But first a brief detour through early U.S. history.

On July 4 1826, Adams and Jefferson—bitter foes early in their lives— died within hours of each other. Ironically, the date of their deaths marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson, 83, and Adams, 89, struggled to hang on until the 4th.

According to accounts Jefferson, who had been drifting in and out of consciousness for weeks, awoke on the 4th, asked only, "Has July 4th arrived?" then died at his Monticello home at 12:50 P.M.

Five hundred miles to the northeast in Quincy, Massachusetts, Adams uttered his last words just moments before Jefferson passed away: "Jefferson survives!"

In their final years the two former presidents, once intense political rivals, mellowed toward each other.

Adams and Jefferson recognized that they were both dedicated to the same causes—independence and a grand and glorious America.

Each acknowledged in the other the long tireless service on behalf of the populace—for two decades beginning in 1789, either Adams or Jefferson was president or vice president.

By running second to George Washington in the Electoral College balloting of 1788, Adams became the nation's first vice president.

And by the same method—a 1796 second place finish in the Electoral College vote— Jefferson was elected vice president to serve under Adams, the election's winner and second U.S. president.

Adams' eight years as Washington's understudy provided him with an excellent foundation to serve the country.

But replacing the beloved Washington was too tough an act for Adams to follow. The people wanted Washington to serve forever.

By the end of Adams' first term, Jefferson openly criticized Adams, calling him a leader who was "distrustful, obstinate, excessively vain" and who "takes no counsel from anyone."

In the contentious 1800 election, said to be the birthplace of negative campaigning, Jefferson prevailed over the incumbent Adams.

Now, with our cursory review of U.S. history complete, we can turn our attention to the Lodi imam and why the Adams' presidency brought him to mind.

One of the reasons Jefferson was elected may have been the public backlash to Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts signed into law in 1798.

The Acts consisted of four measures and were directed against the French who, Adams and his Federalist Party feared, threatened the future of the new American democracy.

The measures were:


  • THE ALIEN ACT stating that the president could deport "dangerous" aliens at will.


  • THE SEDITION ACT that blocked any conspiracies and limited free speech if it directed criticism against the government.

No journalist likes the sound of the Sedition Act. But the Alien Acts might deserve a second look.

Note that the Alien Act specifically empowered the president to arrest and deport any aliens considered "dangerous."

The Lodi imam, Shabbir Ahmed, fits the "dangerous" description, to say the least.

Ahmed, although he is not charged with any terrorism related crimes, admitted in federal court that he made speeches in Pakistan supporting the Taliban in its fight against the U.S.

Now that he is a U.S. resident, Ahmed now claims that he sees flaws in his past thinking.

But only the most naïve could take comfort in Ahmed's statement.

In a curious turn of events earlier this week, the Lodi Muslim Mosque unanimously voted to fire Ahmed.

The mosque's president, Mohammed Shoaib said that a search for a new imam, preferably one not from Pakistan, will begin immediately. [Lodi Mosque Leaders Fire Imam, Lodi News-Sentinel, Richard Hanner, June 28.]

Consider the total picture before us.

Ahmed, by his own admission, spewed rabid anti-American propaganda while still in Pakistan.

In all probability, he made false statements on his application to obtain his R-1 visa. Ahmed submitted his application only a few weeks after his volatile speeches.

And even if he didn't lie, Ahmed's visa expired several weeks ago meaning that he is legally bound to leave the country.

Finally, by losing his job, Ahmed has also lost his anchor to the U.S. If he has no religious duties to perform, pursuant to his R-1 visa, then he has no reason to be in the country.

In short, Ahmed should be deported without further ado.

But the case is likely to linger given the interference by the American Civil Liberties Union that claims that the Muslim community has had its rights violated.

Others, like the American Muslim Perspective, a webzine that writes about Muslim issues, suggests that immigration violations like those committed by Ahmed are "minor" and should be ignored in view of the fact that immigration law is routinely disobeyed without consequence by "seven million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S." [On high profile arrests in Lodi, CA, By Khalid Saeed, June 16, 2005]

With resistance coming from several politically correct corners, the Alien Act, as it might apply to the Lodi case, looks pretty appealing.

Ahmed has admitted ties to Al-Queda. And he has committed multiple immigration violations that should definitely not be considered "minor" given the life and death stakes in the war on terror.

Adams apparently had a stronger sense of how fragile a nation can be during troubled times. Why run any risks by giving an admitted terrorist sympathizer the benefit of the doubt?

Hard cases notoriously make bad law. Hard times make harsh legislation. But our immigration disaster—and, I would argue, the Iraq War— constitute hard times.

Let's give Adams, an underappreciated president, credit for realizing that to err on the side of caution can be no error at all.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.