Friday, March 20, 2015

Crusades: A Quick non-Latin-Orthodox-Catholic-Christian View (8 March 2014)

Trudy Rubin of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote an excellent column on Sec. of State John Kerry’s February 2014 efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the column included an unfortunate phrase picked up in its headline by my local newspaper and elsewhere: "Kerry’s crusade just what the Mideast needs."

            "Crusade"? Really? Like George W. Bush didn't screw that one up enough for editors to remember?

            Working on my own writing, I had out Matthew White’s The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities (2012) and could do some quick checking undone at several respectable news sources.

            The literal Crusades of 1095-1291 make #30 on White’s list of mass killing, with a body count of approximately three million. A significant and — trust me on this — highly restrained paragraph in White's entry describes the climax of the First Crusade: "Finally, Jerusalem was besieged and captured in July 1099. The crusaders looted the city and killed 70,000 people in the streets — Muslims mostly, but also anyone who looked Muslim. Jews who had taken refuge in a synagogue were burned inside. The chroniclers wrote of crusaders wading through blood as deep as their horses’ bridles — an exaggeration obviously, but we can certainly imagine them splashing through sticky puddles of blood leaking from bodies in the streets" (p. 101).

            Please do picture crusaders splashing through "puddles of blood" and those bodies in the streets in Jerusalem — and at other times in Constantinople (killing Greek Orthodox Christians) and Acre and a number of cities on the crusaders’ routes; and then never again wish on the Mideast or any place else another crusade. Especially not on the Middle East.

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