Breaking News Stories
These are news stories breaking after the publishing of this Word
– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
by Tristan Abbey
In 1996, Osama bin Laden declared war on “the USA Crusader military
forces on land, sea and air of the states of the Islamic Gulf.” Two
years later, he co-signed a statement with other Islamic terrorist
leaders that read in part: “The Arabian Peninsula has never…been stormed
by any forces like the crusader armies spreading in it like locusts.” In
November 2001, as the noose tightened around his former sanctuary of
Afghanistan, a video was released through al-Jazeera in which he stated:
“This war is fundamentally religious. The people of the East are
Muslims. They sympathized with Muslims against the people of the West,
who are the crusaders.” Shortly after the 3/11 bombings in Madrid, a
group linked to al Qaeda issued a statement that said the attacks were
“part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader and America’s
ally in its war against Islam.” This was a reference to the fall of
Muslim Spain to Catholic Spain in 1492.
|Defenders of the West have
responded by pointing out that the Crusades were, essentially, a
response to aggression perpetrated by Muslims against
Fighting yesterday’s war is not an uncommon practice, but the Crusades
are as distant a memory for Westerners as the rival papacy at Avignon is
for Catholics. What are the terrorists talking about?
The scourge of political correctness has reduced the rich history of the
Crusades, which lasted from as early as 1095 to as late as 1798, to just
another egregious sin committed by barbaric Christians against other
more enlightened cultures. Confronted with this characterization,
defenders of the West (e.g., editor Thomas Madden, who has also written
for National Review) have responded by pointing out that the Crusades
were, essentially, a response to aggression perpetrated by Muslims
against Christians. This absolutely beautiful book, authored by an
impressive array of historians hailing from institutions in the United
States, Wales, Scotland, and England, confirms that the politically
correct description is unbelievably wrong. Fully aware of the various
myths surrounding the Crusades, the contributors preempt canards, refute
tired assertions, and illuminate a truly fascinating period of
history—one that has never been more relevant to Americans. Describing
the Crusades as one of “the most misunderstood phenomena in history,”
Madden and his co-authors proceed to explode myth after misconception
after lie. Fact one: Muslims invaded the Holy Land and took it from the
Christian Byzantines. They occupied most of Spain and even attacked what
is now France. The Crusades were a response to this.
Fact two: The Crusades were not limited to the Middle East. Crusades
were launched against pagans in the Baltic region, heretics in southern
France, and Christian reformers in the Holy Roman Empire.
Fact three: The Crusades were a two-way affair, both sides committing
atrocities, both sides waging war. This simple concept is key to
understanding why, having failed in their mission of reclaiming the Holy
Land and, even further, losing the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans,
Christian Europe lost the Crusades. Anti-Western Muslims have little
claim on any sort of victimhood.
An apologia the anthology is not, however. The massacre of Jews and
Muslims in Jerusalem in 1099 is not glossed over. Richard the
Lionheart’s mass execution of thousands of hostages after the fall of
Acre is not left out, nor is the Shepherd’s Crusade, in which “riots and
massacres of Jews became commonplace.”
Terrorists like Osama bin Laden label us as crusaders in order to
recruit more terrorists from all over the world, including here in the
West. Harebrained intellectuals who insidiously spread propaganda about
the Crusades in order to supplant their fervent Blame America First
ideology with a self-hatred for the West only help his cause.
The authors and the University of Michigan Press deserve congratulations
of the highest order for their superbly rich scholarship and deftly
crafted gem of a publication.