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"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

Friday, May 07, 2004

You don't always need a big city newspaper to get top notch editorials. Read Phil Lucas's latest in the Florida News Herald. Money quote:

"LetÂ’s recap the Crusades. Muslims invaded Europe and when they reached sufficient numbers they imposed their intolerant religion upon Westerners by force. Christian monarchs drove them back and took the battle to their homeland. The fight lasted a couple of centuries, and we bottled them up for 1,000 years.

Now, a millennium later, Muslims have expanded forth again."

Indeed.

How often have you heard this line about Muslims being offended by any use of the word "crusade"? About how they're still suffering humiliation for having been invaded by Christian armies? About how we must understand their sensitivity?

In fact, in the early 1960's the Navy's premier fighter airplane was the F-8 Crusader. Can anyone imagine giving anything the name "Crusader" today?

If anything Mr Lucas doesn't go far enough in his historical review.

In 632 A.D. when Mohammed died, most of theMediterraneann world and Europe was Christian, the rest of Arabia and Persia being pagan or practicing various now-dead religions. When Muslims proceeded to spread their religion, they did so not peacefully, by persuasion or "missionary" work, but by the sword. Muslim/Arab armies quickly conquered much of the region. Within one hundred years they had seized northern Africa and Spain. They even pushed into France, and were only stopped by Charles Martel at the battle of Tours in 732.

There was a running war between Islam and the Christian nations that lasted for the next eight hundred years. The fighting waxed and waned, with each side gaining victories and suffering defeats. Sometimes factions would even make temorary alliances with the other side to gain some advantage in domestic politics. The fighting lasted until the late 17th century, when in 1683 a Turkish/Islamic army marched into Austria and laid siege to Vienna. The European armies defending the city prevailed and the last threat from Islam was averted.

So where do the Crusades fit into all of this? In 1095 Pope Urban made a speach urging Christians to take back the holy lands from "the wicked race." Over the next two hundred years, Christian armies invaded what is today Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine (or the West Bank, if you prefer). There were three major Crusades, or invasions, but in the end the Crusaders were driven from the land and the status quo returned.

The point is that each side invaded the other at various times. Each side tried to destroy the other. The Crusades can be looked at as a defensive war to retake areas once governed by Christian rulers. They can also be looked at as just one more battle in a long war. It is historically ignorant to say that "poor innocent Muslims were invaded by evil Christians."

if modern-day Muslims are going to be "offended" by an event that happened almost a thousand years ago, can't Christians be equally "offended" by the various Muslim invasions of Europe?
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