Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Piece of American History in Morocco

We were wiped out after about two hours of walking the streets of Tangier, so we ducked into a restaurant where we watched some traditional music for a bit before heading over to the American Legation, the first diplomatic mission of the United States as an independent country. A legation is an old diplomatic term no longer in use – an embassy used to mean a temporary diplomatic mission while a legation was a permanent one. Now we use embassies as permanent missions.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States back in 1777. The legation dates back to 1821 and is the only National Historic Landmark outside the US. The legation currently houses the Tangier and American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies and a museum dedicated to a history of foreign relations between the US and Morocco, as well as an odd shrine to the American writer Paul Bowles, who lived and wrote in Tangier and with whom I am completely unfamiliar.

It’s important to think about diplomatic relations in the wake of our newly elected neofascist regime that has little concern for relations with other countries not named Russia. Think about this: the first country to recognize our independence was a Muslim country. Now, they want to make Muslims put their names on a registry. This is not only for foreigners visiting our country, but for American citizens! This is straight out of the nazi playbook.

The first foreign treaty we signed was also with Muslims. The Treaty of Tripoli, which guaranteed safe passage of our ships through Mediterranean waters, states, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” This article, Article 11, intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. The treaty was submitted to the Senate by President John Adams, receiving ratification on June 7, 1797, and signed by Adams, taking effect as the law of the land on June 10, 1797.

That any American would define Islam by the actions of its worst elements of society just shows how ignorant Americans really are. This is extremely dangerous. Our country is at risk - not from Islamic terrorism - but from ourselves.

Photos from the Legation: 

palate planters outside the legation

nice property, kept up well

Here are a series of informational displays. I won't repeat what is here:

the sultan

Inside the museum:

gift woven by berbers given to our first ambassador

barack and the king

We left the legation and headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags. The guy arranged a private taxi for us to go to Tetouan, which was a reasonable $40 given the hour trip through the Rif Mountains. The drive would have been nice had the driver not been terrible at his job. At one point he was messing around with his phone charger and I thought for sure we would go off a cliff. Apparently, Moroccans are well-known for their bad driving skills, but I wonder if this is more of an Arab in general thing, because the Lebanese are terrible drivers as well.

When we arrived in Tetouan, someone from the hotel came to meet us and walk us through the winding streets of the old city – which is a UNESCO World Heritage site – to the hotel, a 16th century building where we are one of two rooms that are rented, from what I can tell. We were welcomed with mint tea by the warm hotel proprietors before crashing in our room for an epic nap. We got up to eat dinner at a traditional Moroccan restaurant before returning to immediately crash again.

I am so wiped out.

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