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Unpopular look at history


Chris James

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Well he's done it again! That man in the White House, our duly elected President, has once again pointed out the truth many in the Christian world would just as soon forget. Of course we all know he's a secret Muslim and that he prays to Allah when he goes to church on Sunday...believe that and you must be a republican.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/critics-pounce-after-obama-talks-crusades-slavery-at-prayer-breakfast/ar-AA92xT8?ocid=LENDHP

Oh yes, there was that small matter of the Crusades part 1, 2 and 3, and the Spanish Inquisition which ushered in the Dark Ages. But those were the days when Popes had armies and government leaders bowed down to the supreme Catholic in the Vatican on the threat of excommunication. With a track record like that I would say that Protestantism was inevitable.

So why do these critics pounce when the President speaks of historical fact? Perhaps these are the same people that would agree if told that Jesus was crucified on the White House lawn...in other words, the ignorant. We have a lot of those in the U.S. these days, people who swing Jesus like a club and take Bible verse out of context. Some of them even have a spotlight on Fox News.

But the news is a tricky minefield these days, especially when CNN starts using right wing Christian sources that seek to tell us the truth about gay issues. I will admit that the gay marriage argument has come a long way towards making gay issues more mainstream. Unfortunately the viewers with a negative attitude towards gay people will only believe what they want no matter the source.

I visit about a dozen news sources on a daily basis to read the information and make comparisons. I grew up reading the Washington Post and so that is one source on my list, but so is JoeMyGod.blogspot.com. Joe Jarvis runs the hottest gay news blog on the planet. If it's LBGT relevant it will be found there.

It's not always fun but it will be truthful since he has a staff of fact checkers and good quality sources. You will see a slew of stories about the Christian right, especially those in government and religious leaders who preach the hate towards the LBGT community. I want to know which of these idiots would have gay people put to death, don't you?

I'm glad our President speaks out about the flaws of all religions and yet maintains his devotion. Mr. Obama doesn't stand in the dark and throw stones. I see him as a man who stands in the spotlight and embraces the differences of the human spirit with love and understanding.

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I think where he's failed has been because of his inexperience, and because of the vitriol and viciousness of his enemies. I think his heart has been in the right place, but he's disappointed where he has been unable to accomplish what he's set out to do. Now with Congress all in the hands of the Republicans, suddenly the mood in that party is changing as they realize that the problems they've complained were those fomented by the current administration are theirs to manage, and they're bereft of answers.

C

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Although I am not a fan of either Obama or the republican party, I can say without any hesitation that I agree with his analogy. I've been comparing Islamic radicalism to the crusades for nearly a decade now, and I've always gotten dirty looks for it. Just one more case of people not wanting to see the truth even if it's staring them in the face.

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Obama's view is flawed in one respect: he omitted something.

Almost all the great Christian abuses occurred before the Enlightnment, or as backlash against it and once that period was over, Christianity was kinder and gentler.

Islam has never had that transformative moment. I have been loud on this forum defending *muslims* when I think they are being stereotyped in negative ways, but Islam itself has too many medieval elements to equate it to modern Christianity.

There are three big foundational reasons Islam has not progressed and a fourth, more immediate.

1) Islam started 600 years behind. It's not a mature religion. It simply hasn't had enough time to mellow out from the zeal that drives the growth of a young religion.

2) Economically, the muslim regions of the world never got that boost to support free thinkers. Think about why the Enlightenment came about and you see that wealth in Europe was accumulating through the previous few centuries to a tipping point. The cruelty and greed of the colonial rush brought wealth to Europe that lifted masses out of poverty and broke the priest class' hold over people.

Arab/muslim nations never got to such a tipping point. Even in the heyday of Islamic culture when they were the premiere traders and scientists of their day, they never hit a high enough mark to break the grip of the priest class.

3) Islam spread much faster and much wider than Christianity did. So there is no way to reform the whole thing at once. With the Enlightenment, Christianity was still bound mostly within the confines of Europe (hemmed in by Islam, ironically enough). It meant that the whole population could get a 'vaccination' against extremism all together.

With Islam we see very moderate and enlightened strains popping up throughout history in various places like the mystical Sufis in Egypt and the hindufied Islam of India and the casual islam of South East Europe or Indonesia etc.

But every now and again, a virulent strain takes hold in some corner and the disunited nature of Islam meant it festered and then spread to infect vast stretches of the worldwide religion.

4) As a consequence of 3) Arabia gave us wahabbism, an anti-Enlightenment extremist movement, which pushed back against European/Christian secularism when the Enlightenment ideas started to take hold in Arabia a few hundred years late. It's the root of all the modern Sunni Jihadi brands of Islam that have colonized previously laid back places like Malaysia, Nigeria and Chechnya.

(For those of you who know your Isaac Asimov, Wahabbism is like the Mule in the foundation series. It really has wared the natural flow of the religion which was previously towards a more benign nature. The only problem is that unlike the Mule's influence, Wahibbism has only grown since the death of it's founder. )

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

Can Islam be rescued? Sure: Look to the foundational issues. It's mostly an issue of reducing poverty in Islamic states. True, many extremists grow up in wealthy households, but that's not my point. Wealthy households are also where the secularists and freethinkers come from. And Islamic countries have very few of those cradles now. Islam's hope lies in economic development.

Is there anything the west can do to promote such development? I don't know. Outside of not interfering militarily and thus furthering a war footing, probably not. But the oil politics makes that unlikely.

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The connection between the Crusades and the current Jihadist movements is actually stronger than many people realize. Many of the theological arguments cited by the fundamentalists for their Jihadist activities today arose in direct response to the Crusades. One only needs to remember when the Muslims took Jerusalem they allowed the defenders to surrender without penalty, and Christian, Jews and Muslims lived in the city in harmony. When the Crusades retook it, they massacred everybody, no matter what their religion. That's where the example was set.

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Steven's thoughts on Christianity are incomplete...there was a massive abuse of foreign cultures before, during and after The Enlightenment. The colonization and rape of the New World was led by Christians who saw native people as only savages wearing gold jewelry. Not only has The Church led massive slaughter, it blessed it when the native tribes in the Americas were murdered for their wealth. Let's hear a cheer for the Jesuits...the true bastards of Rome.

The fight for global domination through colonization was followed by many nations, all of them claiming to be Christian. The British Empire, Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, and the rest of Europe used their military might to conquer what they saw as lesser cultures although most of them were far older. China and India come to mind with advanced civilizations that existed when the leaders of Britain were worshiping rocks and living in straw huts.

And what gave these Europeans the right to assault, murder and plunder these foreign people? One word: Jesus. The emissaries of Christ would bring down ancient cultures and enslave entire populations just bring the Word Of God to the heathens. Some excuse...and in what parable does Jesus say rape the savage and steal his livelihood? This is why I am an atheist.

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Well, I did acknowledge the events of colonialism, but I think most of that took place BEFORE the Enlightenment. Indeed, the wealth plundered by colonialism is what fed the Enlightenment.

Once Enlightenment values moderated Christianity, things changed even in the colonial world. You ended up seeing Christians work to end slavery in the British Empire and the first secular constitution, in the USA.

There were still places where horrible events took place post-enlightenment, like the Belgian Congo but those are places where the Enlightenment took a while to reach, so in a way that was still un-Enlightened Christianity at work. They could only get away with it out of sight.

I too am an atheist and find religion illogical, but I think it's unfair to lump the more rational modern strains of Christianity in with the older autocratic forms.

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There is one very telling point that is missing from O'bozo's ever insightful analysis.

The abuses of the Crusades took places centuries ago.

The Muslim butchers of ISIS burned that pilot on fire last weekend.

Any equivalence is political horse shit.

Before you dismiss me as the redneck jingoist, have we forgotten this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeyxYm-BI4c

I'm NOT a big fan of Christians. Some of them are pretty rotten but they aren't currently murdering children and throwing our gay bros off of frikking roofs.

Some Christians may be passive-aggressive assholes but at least they aren't aggressive-aggressive assholes like ISIS.

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Oh we could go on forever about the things President Obama left out of his speech. His point, and a valid one, is that we should not paint all Muslims with the same brush, they are not all ISIS.

The Christian world is still in crisis for many reasons and I think that is a factor in this discussion. I am tired of listening to the radical Christian movement claiming to own marriage when they already have a heavy investment in divorce. This kill the queers attitude is self defeating when the only stones cast should be at those who practice adultery as an Olympic sport.

But this let's save the children nonsense is the most blatant lie since the children being adopted by gay couples are the products of a hetero marriage in ruins. We have lots of unwanted children because The Church denies the value of contraception, as if the men in black know anything about sexual relations other than denying the reality of human beings who desire sex.

The latest whacko bishop in San Francisco is out there condemning masturbation instead of drunk driving, the latter being a part of his expertise. Priests masturbate, who is he kidding? Celibacy has always been a bad idea, but then unreality has always been a specialty of religious folks. So to what events in history do we owe this surge in bloody Islam we call ISIS?

When religion blesses mass murder there will always be a backlash. The term Crusader still has a negative connotation in the Middle East and always will. But these ISIS terrorists are just Crusaders in a different form and the larger body of Islam is beginning to see that and condemn it. The incident with the Jordanian pilot has stirred the pot and turned the hatred towards ISIS. Now all we in the West have to do is keep our damn noses out of this mess.

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I agree with Chris. Most of the problems of the last twenty years should have been Arab and Muslim problems. It's taken twenty years and a dead pilot for Jordan to notice that they have a stake in restraining the fundamentalists. Turkey has been so taken up with keeping a lid on their Kurdish minority that they have only just noticed the inconvenience of extremists on their doorstep. As for Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan!

Nato, the USA and the EU have been too quick to step up to the plate to sort things out when it was actually the Arab League's job.

If the Monroe Doctrine worked in reverse outside the West's sphere of influence and we could say "Saddam's a nasty man... what are the Arabs going to do about it?", then we wouldn't have muddled mess after muddled mess. We would have had some nasty wars but they wouldnt have been ours.

Isnt there a saying about the unwisdom of getting between two dogs that are fighting?

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Far too many of you are thinking of Christianity only as you know it in your areas.

Right now children are being killed by Christians for witchcraft in West Africa.

Gays are being baited and bashed at the behest of the state church in Russia who have upped their anti gay agenda.

Everyone knows that Jamaicans are the most homophobic people in the west, but few realize it comes from their deep Christian colonial influence. (True story: A few gays tried to organize a gay pride march in Jamaica about ten years back. People turned out along the parade route armed with machetes to catch the gays.)

These people are as much Christians as any Christian in the developed west and their current-day abuses come from christian inspiration.

Now I know I'm sounding a bit like I'm arguing with myself since I said earlier that Christianity today is reformed by the Enlightenment, but I was merely making a technical point to show that Islam is not inherently evil, just wandering a different historical path.

I totally agree that even modern Christianity is susceptible to the abuses of extremists, though not on such a large scale since it has by and large been tempered by rationality.

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The fact that something is centuries old does not mean that it is not relevant today - look at Magna Carta. It is eight hundred years old this year, yet it is a key constitutional component in the Anglo Saxon legal system. In fact it is more important in the United States than it is in England where it originated.

One thing that most people do not realize about Magna Carta is that most of the Barons who forced John to sign it were crusaders, as was William the Marshall who was the driving force behind the re-issue of the charter after John got it annulled by the Pope. Many of the ideas that are expressed in Magna Carta, such as the King being subject to the Law, arise directly from ideas that were present in Islamic society at the time.

The Crusades resulted in Islamic ideas and values coming into Western Europe and can be seen as leading directly to the Renascence and the Reformation. The idea of the Bible being the actual word of God itself becomes a prominent theological concept after the third Crusade, directly influenced by the Muslim view of the Quran. Also the concept of the abstraction of the Law, that the law exists as a entity that should be applied in its totality, not something that is the will of a particular person. Those ideas and influences are still with us today and are the foundation of what we regard as Western Liberal thought.

At the same time the Crusades introduced into Islam a concept that was not there before, that Islam was under attack and that it had to be defended. Many of the hadiths that are used by the Jihadists to justify their actions and theology first come to light during the period of the Crusades, especially during the third Crusade. Over the centuries whenever Islam has felt itself to be under attack we have seen the rise of the theological concepts that first arose in response to the Crusades. From the perspective of the Jihadists, the West in general and the United States in particular is conducting another Crusade to destroy Islam. They see themselves as defending true Islam, no matter how misguided that understanding may be it will not go away until it can be shown that the West is not trying to destroy Islam.

The idea that the West is trying to destroy Islam may seem totally absurd from the position of the average European or American, however, if you look at the history of the world since 1945 from a Muslim perspective, it makes sense.

So if you wish to solve the problem of the Jihadist movement in Islam you must address the question of the Crusades and their legacy, no matter how long ago they were.

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Some definite words of wisdom, Nigel. If anything this radical movement in Islam is only the latest outpouring of hatred in a culture that seems to welcome violence. As many of you already know...long before Islam began to spread the Middle East was filled with tribal societies. The history in the Arab world was fraught with conflict between tribes, and still is.

They fought over resources, trade routes, and plundered each other's wealth. A more war like people could not have existed, and then came Islam which tried to unite all these diverse people under Allah. It seemed to work for a while except that the European nations decided to carve a piece of that wealth for themselves. Colonization destroyed tribal barriers and the World Wars created new false boundaries carving out nations where none had existed before.

The Arab world did not do itself any favors by backing Nazi Germany and much of that enforced nation building seemed a lot like retribution, and that brings me to Israel and the fate of the Jews. Holocaust deniers aside, and many Arabs deny it because then they would have to accept the idea that the Jews suffered more than they did, Israel is the most contentious nation founded in the outcome of WW2.

Yada, yada, yada, I am sick of hearing the Arab world claim that the Jews stole their Holy Land. It all sounds like the old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. The League of Nations and then the United Nations created a mess, didn't they? Today there are many in the Middle East who deny the Holocaust and deny Israel's right to exist. This gives the Islamic nations something in common, they can all hate the same entity and wrap that absurdity in religion.

So with everyone losing focus on Iraq after Saddam's forces fell to the Allied Powers of the West, the old religious and tribal divides of Sunni and Shia fell back into prominence, or perhaps they never went away. The new powers that be fed that fire and from the ashes we now have ISIS, built from the disenfranchised whipped into a frenzy seeking power.

To me this looks like a case of the modern Crusaders creating a greater mess than the Crusaders of old. It will be very difficult to unite the nations in that region to confront ISIS. It is no longer a matter of religion because we have returned those people to their pre-Islamic roots and boosted a rebirth of tribal warfare. ISIS may yell "Allah Akbar," but that is happening on both sides of the conflict. The only one in the middle of all this nonsense seems to be Allah...and unfortunately Israel.

Just a final comment: I don't think any of the Islamic nations would be foolish enough to force a direct encounter with Israel. A very small nation in landmass they are still the strongest in military power. The foolish actions of the Palestinians in recent years only keeps the Israeli military on their toes and ready for most anything. Right now it is all a stalemate over there but ISIS is the spoiler and they need to be stopped by the Islamic nations.

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I learn so much here, simply reading comments in the forum! Nigel, thanks for the history lesson, and even a new word to play with in my rapidly shrinking vocabulary.

Chris, also thanks. Could you clear up one thing? You call Israel's establishment contentious. To me, contentious and controversial have slightly different definitions. Which did you mean?

C

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Cole, I don't know what Chris's position is but I would definitely call the establishment of Israel contentious - Jewish settlement in the Holy Land was contentious even before the creation of Israel, it was the prime reason behind the Arab revolt of 1933 to 1939,  

 

With respect to the Arab backing of Nazi Germany this is very much a case of my enemies enemy is my friend. The Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini was a leader of the resistance against British and French Imperialism instigated under the Sykes-Picot treaty. To criticize him for allying himself with Hitler, is rather like attacking Churchill for allying with Stalin.  From statements that the Grand Mufti made in private it is fairly clear he had no particular liking for Hitler, and actually rather distrusted him fearing that once he had conquered Britain and France he might decide to take over their Middle East possessions as his own.  In all likelyhood that would have happened.  In understanding the Arab actions one has to realize that there had been an effective war against Britain and France with their Middle Easter possession since 1933.

 

Israel is a major element in the current state of things in the Middle East but it is not the only factor and may not be the most important factor.  A constant thread running through a lot of Muslim thought at the moment is that they always come off second best and always are discriminated against. If we are going to deal with the situation we have only one of two options. Either we totally destroy the Islamic world and essentially wipe Islam off the map, and this is a view that I have heard some people express, or we find a way to bringing about a fair and equitable solution to the problems of the Middle East, including the status of Israel and of the Kurds, which will not only require some fairly hefty reparations to be made but will also need some re-arrangement of national boundaries which will result in some states ceasing to exist and a number of new states coming into being.

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Nigel, I asked the question because the way it was worded, I wondered if the Israelis were being called an argumentative, bickering people, which is what contentious could have meant, or whether the meaning was that the establishment of that state was the beginning of a major controversy.

One of the definitions of contentious, though down the list some, is controversial. To me, they have quite disparate meanings.

But thanks for more information about this. All this stuff is fascinating.

One thing Obama has done throughout his presidency is show respect for the Muslims. He's made a point of letting them know that he's not interested in any sort of war against Islam. He's taken some heat for this at home. I find it refreshing.

C

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The Irish were happy to let Hitler hurt the British.

"4,983 members of the Defence Forces deserted to fight with the British and Allied armed forces. After the war they faced discrimination, lost their rights to pensions and were barred from holding government jobs. They were finally pardoned in 2012"

Let's also not forget the warmonger Mahatma Ghandi who refused to join the fight against the Nazis that they acknowledged to be evil, using their refusal as a bargaining chip for independence.

- - -

I'm also going to take a sentence written earlier and makes some substitutions:

The history in the European world was fraught with conflict between tribes, and still is.
They fought over resources, trade routes, and plundered each other's wealth. A more warlike people could not have existed
I think that if you observe Europe since that period (immediate pre-Islamic times) that sentence is pretty accurate too.
Barons used to pay bandits to waylay travelers through their fiefs. Castles were set up in part to claim trade routes over land and water. European nations/cities CONSTANTLY warred with each other to steal wealth and resources (This is after all the culture that gave us Machiavelli, Napoleon, Slobodan Milosovic, Putin vs Ukraine, The IRA, the Huns, the Vandals, the Sack of Rome, Vikings, the Lannisters, the battle of Hastings, the Battle of Agincourt, The battle of Flanders...)
I think it's clear that Arab culture was typically violent for human beings at that economic level, and that's plenty violent. And they've not reformed their thinking the way Europe largely has.
But to say Arabs were the most warlike culture seems like hyperbole.
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Nigel, I asked the question because the way it was worded, I wondered if the Israelis were being called an argumentative, bickering people, which is what contentious could have meant, or whether the meaning was that the establishment of that state was the beginning of a major controversy.

Cole, I was taking the meaning of contentious to be 'that which caused argument or discord', I think it is fairly clear to anyone who has seriously studied Middle Eastern history that one of the primary causes of discord in the middle east has been the establishment of Israel.

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Some of you who have been following this thread might find the following of interest:

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/religion-and-conflict?utm_source=FL_DB&utm_medium=crm&utm_campaign=10_02_2015_FL_newsletter

It is a free course run by the University of Groningen on Religion In Conflicts. Should be interesting, the course takes six weeks and requires about 4 hours a week, it starts in April.

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I have to take my thoughts one step further after viewing images in an article yesterday about Hamas training young teenagers in military tactics. There are many contentious arguments about the plight of the Palestinian people and all of them are controversial (thank you, Cole). Hamas is an insidious nemesis for any kind of peace in the region.

Between the West Bank and Gaza, the political forces of radical Palestinians have kept Israel on edge for decades. From the conservative Israeli viewpoint all the Arabs should have been pushed out of the country and yet the attempted appeasement by giving these people their own land within the state of Israel was the decision. That meant coming to terms with Yasser Arafat. a man well known for his terrorist background.

I remember those early days as the Palestinians settled into the West Bank, again there were images. The Israeli settlers who fought government troops to keep their homes and yet they were evicted to make room for the Palestinians. Whole settlements of well constructed modern homes were evacuated, and then the Palestinians arrived. The first thing they did was tear down those homes and but up shacks.

In many places there were, and still are, Israeli towns that shared common necessities with Arab villages. Water treatment, sewage plants, and manufacturing industry provided prosperity and health to both sides. But the Palestinians have a poor economy while Israel flourishes and the offer to share is not often accepted. The ideology is different, driven by what can only be called religious insanity on both sides.

The Gaza Strip is an entirely different story. Imagine if you will a group like Hamas settling into Mexico and randomly firing rockets into San Diego. From a military standpoint this is the ultimate stupidity...a mouse throwing stones at a tiger. How many cycles of this Hamas based taunting will Israel stand? The results are Palestinian deaths in the thousands and the destruction of their infrastructure. The bigger absurdity is that the human rights groups blame the Israeli tiger for defending itself.

So now many of the children I see in these images, young boys holding rifles and yelling Hamas slogans, will not live to be adults. This is all for publicity, an attempt to garner sympathy in the rest of the world. Hamas doesn't care about the Palestinian people, they are cannon fodder. How do you reason with political fanatics, especially Islamic religious fanatics, who view attacking Israel as the will of Allah?

Israel has not found an answer to that question...there may be no answer. Hamas will attack again, perhaps in coordination with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Israel will fight back. The odd man in this equation is ISIS who are very close to Hezbollah who in turn are almost a proxy for Iran. All of them need to remember that tigers can bring down an elephant and a few mice are no real challenge. I don't want to see Israel challenged by a consortium of Arab terrorists and neither do you.

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ISIS and Hezbollah are natural enemies, being Sunni and Shia.

I'm not sure in what sense you mean they are close, but I definitely don't see them working together.

The stupidest thing GW Bush did in his haphard middle east policy was forget that the Shiites and Sunnis can be split and distracted into competing with each other. It's why Rumsfeld and co miscalculated the aftermath of the war.

He should have talked to his daddy. Bush Senior refused to topple Saddam in 1991 because he knew that Saddam was a counterweight to shiite radicalism. And radicalism in general too since Saddam was a Baathist (Pan-arab socialist)

Anyway, I suspect Hezbollah is going to be very quiet on the Israel front because 1) Israel is happy to leave them alone and 2) They don't want to turn their backs on ISIS who have targeted shiites in Iraq.

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This 'Letter from Europe' is worth listening to, don't be put off by the French at the beginning, there is an English translation which takes up most of the programme

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05289wc

It is a response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo from a Muslim living in France.

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  • 9 months later...

Sometimes even presidential speech writers make rather odd errors. I was amused by President Obama's Thanksgiving commentary in which he compared contemporary refugees to the Pilgrims:

“In 1620, a small band of pilgrims came to this continent, refugees who had fled persecution and violence in their native land,” Obama says. “Nearly 400 years later, we remember their part in the American story – and we honor the men and women who helped them in their time of need.”

So tell us, Mr. President, how did that work out for the men and women who helped those pilgrims in their hour of need?

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