Vox.com is nearly as terrible a propaganda machine as Gawker, or the whole city government of Chicago. It is a machine, spewing lies for the benefit of its paymasters, filled with inane Social Justice Advocates. And they want you to know that Christians and Crusaders are as much a threat as militant Islamics.
Now, before I tear this pithy, oft-repeated argument a metaphorical orifice for the excretion of bodily waste, I will explain why this particular lie enrages me so. The Crusades touches upon a subject that has, in many ways, been my life’s work. The histories of the Byzantine Empire, the succeeding Ottoman Empire and the regional conflicts of Islam and Christianity have immense personal interest to me. In the interests of full disclosure, I will tell you that I am part Armenian by ancestry. Don’t let that influence you overmuch. I can’t begin to impart what I have learned on this subject in one post. Forgive this brief summary, but also allow me to recommend some reading material if you want to dig deeper yourself: John Julius Norwich’s three volume series on Byzantium and Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy by Emmet Scott. I have dozens more I can give you if you want to read more than that. If it exists in English and is a scholarly treatment on the subject, the odds are good I’ve read it.
Now, shall we see the best of Vox.com’s excuse for journalism?
Obama’s point was actually pretty simple. Let’s not pretend that Islam itself is to blame for ISIS or that Muslims are inherently more violent, he suggested, because the problem of religious violence is not exclusive to any one religion. In other words, don’t oversimplify the problem of ISIS to “Muslims are different from the rest of us.”
For an opening salvo in the ongoing Culture Wars, this is pathetic, worthy more of mocking than serious intellectual treatment. You see, Islam is different in this regard. Pew Research is widely regarded as Gospel by the Left. Let’s use their own data against them.
This study is oft-cited by them, because it shows that a majority of Muslims do not support the actions of terrorist groups and suicide bombers. Yet, look at the graphs. Double-digit percentages DO support these actions. In Palestine, support for suicide bombings is 46% (over 60% in Gaza). Even in moderate Turkey, it is 18%. Does anyone on God’s Green Earth think that 18% of Christians in America would support suicide bombings on Muslims? If so, that person is an unrecoverable addict to ignorance. And this is their data, not mine.
Many critics have described Obama’s assertion that Christians are equivalent to Muslims as insulting to Christians. Whether this is because they believe that Christians are inherently superior or that Muslims are inherently inferior is irrelevant. It is not so different from, say, 1960s white supremacists who called Martin Luther King an anti-white racist for asserting that white and black people are fundamentally the same.
Yes, it is different. Because we have data, right there, combined with common-sense understanding that terrorism is more likely to come from a specific source. A Muslim source. Think about it for a moment and chalk up all the terrorism to come from Christian extremist groups. Let’s be fair and include the Irish, quite possibly the only modern instance of organized Christian terrorism in recent memory. Islamic terrorism dwarfs it by orders of magnitude. Not only is identifying this not racist (as Vox.com implies here), but NOT identifying it is proof of a level of ignorance that should not be possible among anyone seriously claiming the title of journalist.
Amazingly, some have tried to dismiss Obama’s comparison altogether by arguing that, even during the Crusades, in fact Christians were the victims and Islam the aggressor.
And here comes the history lesson. It is true that Christians were not the aggressor. Your Social Studies teacher (why don’t they call that class history, I wonder?) lied to you. Your textbooks lied to you. Pop culture lied to you. President Obama is lying to you, right now. To understand the depths of lie, we must go back in history to a time before Mohammed, before Islam even existed, because this lie is so deep, so systemic, its tentacles reach into our entire understanding of European History. It hinges around a nation referred to repeatedly as the Byzantine Empire. Even now, some sense of the thing can be had in the phrase “byzantine politics”. That Empire is a black hole in history textbooks, and Leftists want to keep it that way, because any support for Islam in the West is likely to evaporate like a fart in a hurricane otherwise.
After the first Germanic invasion of the Roman Empire, in the Third Century, it became increasingly apparent that the Empire was too large to be ruled by Rome alone. The old classical civilization we know as “Roman” began to fall apart. Economic damage was great. Plagues and frontier wars increased. Sassanid Persia was a constant threat in the East. New religions (Christianity among them) sprung up all over the Empire. Much of the apocalyptic tone of early Christian writings serves as a dim cultural memory for what life in this time was like.
Christianity, in the person of Constantine, eventually reached the highest levels of State, and the Empire rapidly Christianized. The message of a better life in the next world reached receptive masses of people who knew their civilization was on the decline. Paganism hardly even put up a fight, and was extinguished in the Empire in a few generations. Rome’s syncretic meta-culture merged with Christianity to become what we now call “Western civilization.” Even as the second wave of German invaders entered the Empire, conquering vast territories, they were in turn converted by it.
There is an old quote that may or may not be apocryphal. But it captures the essence of how even the Germans felt about the situation: “An able Goth wants to be like a Roman; only a poor Roman would want to be like a Goth.” The height of the Germanic second wave captured approximately half the old Roman Empire.
They were all Christian, by this point. Many had been for over a century. To see how pervasive the Roman influence was, look at a common Spanish surname: Rodriguez. This is a Latin pronunciation of a German name, Roderic (the Latinized variant would be Rodericus). The Germans were speaking Latin, by and large, within the old Empire. They embraced the culture, the language and the religion. Who knows what modern Europe might look like today if this had been allowed to continue? Even then, the Romans were not done.
What we call “Western” civilization was actually once Mediterranean civilization. The inner sea had produced a sort of united meta-culture over top the local polities, and the Romans brought them together into one Empire (often through violence, but also often enough through peaceful means). Christianity provided them with one religion. Greek and Latin with two languages. You see, Europe in those days really was a sort of union, not like the pathetic excuse for a modern European “Union”. Even the distant Franks considered themselves to be a part of it.
Islam brought an end to all of this. I cannot overstate the damage Islam did to Western civilization. In the 600s, even the semi-barbaric Lombards, who had established themselves in northern Italy, used gold coinage. The Carolingians, arguably the most powerful successor to the West Roman Empire, could only manage silver coinage, and even then not a whole lot of it. The inner sea became rife with Muslim pirates. Muslim invasions destroyed ancient monuments and wrecked ancient cities. Even after the devastating destruction Rome visited upon Carthage, that city had been rebuilt and repopulated within a few decades. It was even the capital of the Roman province and the Vandal Kingdom.
Carthage was completely destroyed by the Arabs, never to return. Islam flooded the Empire, licking its wounds from a freshly terrible war with Persia. In a century, two-thirds of the Roman Empire was in the hands of Islam. The connection between the Eastern and Western Roman worlds was severed. But, somehow, both survived. Charles Martel defeated the Muslims in France, and the Romans defeated them in two of history’s most brutal sieges at Constantinople.
But the economy was devastated. Literacy rates dropped through the floor, because subsistence farming became the norm. Trade was reduced by an order of magnitude, and it would be almost 600 years before the Italians brought it back. There was no time available for scholarly studies. Only the church could afford such extravagance, and even then only in moderation. Vox.com and the Social Justice crowd would have you believe Christianity is some backward, anti-science cult. The fact remains that the church was the only scholarly light in that age. Modern science would not exist without Christianity. This is how much damage Islam did.
In modern politics, it is fashionable to think of an Islamic “Golden Age” of learning and prosperity. In reality, this was the final flowering of the conquered cultures. Most great Islamic philosophers and architects were converts to Islam. And Islam was serious about those conversions. Oh, “People of the Book” were periodically tolerated to some degree, but immense economic and social pressure was placed on them to convert. And convert they did. The Persians were also conquered by Islam. They practiced Zoroastrianism. Today, the only Zoroastrians you’ll find are in India, where some of them fled to escape Islam. The religion was equally effective in scouring the Middle East and North Africa of Christians and Jews. By 900 AD, the Islamic “Golden Age” had become a nightmare. The Arabs couldn’t run a whorehouse in port full of drunken sailors, much less a functioning multi-ethnic Empire.
Christianity seems to have done the same, some would say, except that when Christianity took over the Roman World, it did so largely peaceably. Christian nations functioned, and did so even after the population converted. Not so with Islam.
For nearly one thousand years, the rump state of the Roman Empire, which modern history contemptuously dismisses as the Byzantine Empire fought a life-or-death battle with Islam. And, in 1453 it lost. Istanbul, not Constantinople, as the song famously tells us. Anatolia, once one of the greatest bastions of Christianity would henceforth be Islamic. Can you imagine that titanic struggle? It is almost inconceivable to the modern historian, who has no contemporary basis for comparison.
Emperor Alexius asked Pope Urban II for help against the invaders. Even he could not have foreseen the response he got (he just wanted to borrow some knights). For a moment all of Europe and even the Byzantines themselves (Eastern Christians and Western Christians were not always very friendly) united against Islam. And Islam lost. Badly. Everywhere, Islam was on the defensive. They lost ground in Spain, the middle East, Anatolia and even Tunisia (where the Normans established an African kingdom in the 1100s). For a short time, it looked like Islam would be kicked out of the old territories of the Roman world, that 500 years of Islamic conquest would be reversed.
Alas, it was not to be. The Christians squabbled among themselves. The Fourth Crusade betrayed the Byzantines and gutted their strength. King Guy proved himself the worst ruler the Kingdom of Jerusalem would ever see, marching out to fight Saladin without even having a secured water supply, in the desert. Only in Spain would the reconquest become permanent, even then that war lasted 800 years. Elsewhere, it was all undone. Not only were the Crusades a defensive measure, a reaction to 500 years of Muslim conquest, they were an ultimately ineffective measure. Christians were their own worst enemies. Shortly after the Crusades were done, the Byzantine Empire would fall, and the with it the last great defensive bulwark in the East. The Balkans would henceforth be the plaything of the Ottoman Sultans. The resulting cultural and religious mess (wherever Islam goes, chaos follows) would be directly responsible for World War I, and as a result, indirectly for the World War II. Bosnia still seethes with the aftermath of centuries of Islamic rule.
For some reason, most of this history is censored from public schools and universities. Disdain for the Byzantine Empire is evident going back even to Gibbon’s time. But it metastasized with the advent of Leftism. Analyzed by itself, the Crusades look pretty bad for Christians, but that’s only because modern Social Justice Warriors have expanded on this and censored the entire Muslim Jihad. A millennium of violence was excised from the high school textbooks. Go pick one of those Social Studies books up. See if you can find even a hint of any of this. This is deliberate on the part of Leftist intellectuals. They know this and desire for the West to be destroyed. With the end of the Soviet Union, their best hope for the destruction of the West is Islam. They will suppress the truth at every opportunity in pursuit of their totalitarian, apocalyptic goals.
Islam is a plague, worse than the locusts of Egypt. It destroys entire civilizations, erases history and replaces it all with a religion that hasn’t advanced in 1400 years, a religion whose people have double-digit support for outright terrorism and suicide bombing. Even in Nazi Germany, it’s hard to imagine support levels like that.
To be crystal clear: this is not a fight over the fine-grain imperfections of Obama’s historical analogy or over the implications for US foreign policy. It is a fight over whether it’s okay to hate Muslims, to apply sweeping and negative stereotypes to the one-fifth of humanity that follows a particular religion. A number of Americans, it seems, are clinging desperately to their anti-Muslim bigotry and are furious at Obama for trying to take that away from them.
Vox.com conflates hatred of a belief system (Islam) for hatred of a people. Does that mean all Muslims are evil? No. Not even a majority are evil. No totalitarian regime in the history of Earth, not even the Nazis, not even the worst Muslim regimes, have ever managed to excise all the good from people. It is not possible to do. But Islam tries anyway. And that’s the whole point. Christians have done great wrongs, same as any other people. But Islam encourages the wrongs. Islam desires the wrongs. It will not stop until the world is Muslim, until every other culture and belief system has been systematically eradicated, as it has already achieved in its own territories (see: ISIS). And then it will work on those people it deems as insufficiently Muslim. Many of the worst victims of Islamic violence are other Muslims. Go ahead and preach female equality in the Sudan. I dare you.
It must be stopped. The Crusaders tried and failed. Too much petty bickering. Too many bad men seeking only power got involved. But the idea remains.
So let me say what ought to be obvious to anyone with a functioning brain cell: WE NEED ANOTHER CRUSADE. Not some namby-pamby nation building exercise. I mean rapid, violent, and complete destruction whenever *any* Muslim nation dares attack the West. Take ten of them for every one of us. Blow up one of our schools? We blow up ten mosques. They blow up our office buildings? We blow up whole cities. Escalate until even the most pig-headed (pun) Islamic says enough and cries uncle. Imams should fear us. Muslim fathers should hush their children at the first mention of Allahu Ackbar in a public space. Then, perhaps, the moderate Muslims everyone talks about will overthrow their extremist brethren, for fear that we will kill them if they don’t.
Let’s work on reducing that double-digit approval rating for terrorism, shall we?