“For Foss, the three-year ordeal of captivity had no religious relevance. This indifference to religion did not, however, prevent Foss from advancing a strong anti-Muslim invective. Just as the Indian captivity account served to foment anti-Indian hatred, Foss used his own account to generate anti-Muslim sentiment. He made the analogy quite clear: the Moors of North Africa were similar to the Indians of North America in skin color and stature.The Americans, however, were similar to the Turks in being “well built robust people, their complexion not unlike Americans.”

“The reason for the latter superimposition was that the Turks were the rulers of North Africa—they were conquerors of the native Moors. But then Foss added that the dress of the Turks makes them “appear more like monsters than human beings.”There were no humans among the Muslims. Either there were monster-like Turks, or Indian-like Moors. To confirm this image of the “barbarians”—a term that would henceforth be used repeatedly in American accounts of captivity among the Muslims—28 Foss described in great detail the cruelty of the Muslims to the slaves, and elaborated on the various kinds of punishment that were meted out in North Africa. As in the numerous accounts that described Indian cruelty and torture,29 Foss was graphic in his description of “oriental” horror. He described the “bastinadoe,” and spent pages distinguishing between the numerous methods of execution and reflecting on the brutality of pain the “Algerines” inflicted:“But for murder of a Mahometan he [the perpetrator] is cast off from the walls of the city, upon iron hooks, which are fastened into the wall about half way down.”

“These catch by any part of the body that happens to strike them, and sometimes they hang in this manner in the most exquisite agonies for several days together before they expire.” Further evidence of Muslim cruelty and heartlessness was derived from episodes about slaves who were crushed under the rocks they were moving. Foss also recorded the story of a “blackman belonging to New-York,” who died the same day he left the hospital because the man’s master had taken him out before he had fully recovered. The Muslims were ruthless. Finally, Foss tried to show that Muslims had no historical legitimacy in North Africa—an argument similar to one used since the seventeenth century- 178 a Conclusion tury to legitimate a holy war against them. Similarly, other American writers in the late eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth century claimed that there was a manifest destiny that upheld their right to the American Zion, a right that necessitated the destruction of the Indian “usurpers.”

“Foss used a similar argument, although he did not apply to Algiers the biblical model of the promised land; North Africa was and had been the land of the great civilizations of Carthage and of Rome. Under those civilizations the land had “abounded with many populous cities, and to have residence here was considered as the highest state of luxury.” Muslims had violently replaced the Carthaginians and the Romans—who had become the Christians of North Africa, according to Foss—and as usurpers, had devastated the land. What greatness in “science” and “wisdom” that once prevailed among the Arabs no longer remained.”

“Foss lamented the loss of Carthage and Rome to those “merciless Barbarians, whose very breath seems to dry up every thing noble, great or good.” Just as the barbarity of the Indians had justified their conquest, the barbarity of the North Africans also justified their conquest and destruction. Only after they were expelled would the old glory be re-instituted. Only with their annihilation would the Euro-American civilization of the classical world reassume its rightful land.”

See Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery Nabil Matar

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