Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thinking About the Crusades

A staple of the "Muslim rage" that we hear about constantly is reference to The Crusades, repeated attempts by various Christian armies over a period of about 200 years to recapture the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Lands from the Muslims. The Muslims, of course, had seized these areas from the original Christian and Jewish owners in the year 1076, but that part of the history is generally overlooked. Islamists continually harp about the evils done by "Jews and Crusaders" as justification for the outrages they themselves perpetrate, as if one evil justifies another.

Let's take a minute to look at the history. There is general historical agreement that eight "Crusades" (nine, counting the so-called "Children's Crusade") were carried out between the years 1096 and 1270, with a general goal of breaking Islamic control over the Holy Land and making it safe for Christian pilgrims. Although the original intent of the crusades was considered to be holy, and they were sanctioned by Popes beginning with Urban II, they frequently degenerated into savage bloodletting and mere quests for plunder. Tens of thousands of people - Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike - were said to have been killed upon the capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, and many thousands more were killed during the entire period of the Crusades.

Clearly, the Crusades brought out the worst of both sides. Terrible massacres were perpetrated by Christians and Muslims alike, often (in the case of the Christians) against their own people. Religious passions, then as now, drove ordinary people to do awful things.

But let's take a minute to look at something that appears to have been lost on today's Islamists: the last Crusade, the Eighth, took place in the year 1270. Simple subtraction tells us that it has now been more than 700 years since the last Crusade, the last organized attempt by Christian forces to use violence to free the Holy Land from Muslim occupation.

By contrast, radical Islamist clerics today - 737 years after the last Crusade - urge their followers every day to murder Christians and Jews. Suicide bombers murder dozens of people each week in the Holy Land, Iraq, and Afghanistan. But as far as the bearded and turbaned prophets of death and destruction are concerned, that's all right...because they're killing infidels. They're killing people like you and I because we're "Jews and Crusaders," conveniently forgetting that the Crusades have been over for more than 700 years.

Of course, if you're fired up with righteous religious passion, and you absolutely believe what your religious leaders tell you, things like justice, logic, compassion, and common sense can conveniently be suspended.

People of good will and common sense must stop making apologies for murderous radical Islamists. They must stop making endless accommodations to Muslims in the West as if feeling a need to atone for actions taken many hundreds of years ago. It's time for everyone to remember that the Crusades are long over, but that evil done in the name of religion is still alive and well. Radical Christians in this country occasionally murder doctors who perform abortions and bomb the clinics where they work. Radical Jewish settlers believe in their right to own the whole of the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, and to kill those (including Israeli leaders) who disagree. But these groups pale in their propensity to violence compared to the radical Muslims who cheerfully murder hundreds, if not thousands of people every year...for the crime of being "Jews and Crusaders."

Unfortunately, if you are a Muslim, the Crusades never ended and everyone in the world who chooses to worship God in a way other than yours is an enemy, an infidel worthy only of death or subjugation. Sauce for the Islamic goose is not sauce for the Christian or Jewish gander.

And that is a poor recipe for peace and religious tolerance.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


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