The First Victims of the First Crusade, Susan Jacoby, New York Times, February 13, 2015
The message from the medieval past is that religious violence seldom limits itself to one target and expands to reach the maximum number of available victims.
Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.
Thomas Asbridge, director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the West at the University of London, commented in this newspaper that “we have to be very careful about judging behavior in medieval times by current standards.”
This issue is better judged from the other side of the looking glass. What we actually see today is a standard of medieval behavior upheld by modern fanatics who, like the crusaders, seek both religious and political power through violent means. They offer a ghastly and ghostly reminder of what the Western world might look like had there never been religious reformations, the Enlightenment and, above all, the separation of church and state.
Unreconciled History: Why even victims don’t have the right to rewrite the past, Michael Kinsley, Slate, February 13, 2015 Continue reading