Monday, November 03, 2003

Knight of the Golden Arches 

Continued from Corrente.....

And what the hell does "Judeo-Christian" mean? And is it really anything at all aside from a marketing token? Maybe I missed an issue of the Weekly Standard or a special greeting from David Brickner, I can't be sure, but in any case, wouldn't a more correct term, at the least, be Judaic? As in Judaic-Christian. Or is "Judeo-Christian" some kind of variant of that whole Ladino language thing? Is it anything like Karate? Nevermind.

Whats important to remember about the Crusades, Clifford, aside from the fact that they were a miserable military failure in almost every respect, tumbling into sheer barbaric lunacy and hallucinagenic bad craziness costumed in high metier, is that the Chistian Crusaders didn't deliver the high art of civilization to the Islamic world. They delivered a good deal of misery, cruelty, genocide, fanatical religious intolerance and altogether un-civilized bad behavior in general. But high end civilization, not exactly. In all too many respects the opposite seems to be the case. The Islamic world made civilization available to the Christian Crusaders - who reciprocated, in too many instances, by piling a big bunch of sticks at the base of whatever they were offered and and lighting it on fire.

For five centuries, from 700 to 1200, Islam led the world in power, order, and extent of government, in refinement of manners, in standards of living, in humane legislation and religious toleration, in literature, scholarship, science, medicine, and philosophy. [...] In Islam art and culture were more widely shared than in medieval Christendom; kings were calligraphers, and merchants, like physicians, might be philosophers. [...] The Moslems seem to have been better gentlemen than their Christian peers; they kept their word more frequently, showed more mercy to the defeated, and were seldom guilty of such brutality as marked the Christian capture of Jerusalem in 1099. Christian law continued to use ordeal by battle, water, or fire, while modern Moslem law was developing an advanced jurisprudence and an enlightened judiciary. [...] The influence of Christendom on Islam was almost limited to religion and war. Probably from Christian exemplars came Mohammedan mysticism, monasticism, and the worship of saints. The figure and story of Jesus touched the Moslem soul, and appeared sympathetically in Moslem poetry and art. ~2~

And about those Mongols Clifford? Consider this. If Baibars and Qutuz had not led their Egyptian army to a victory over the Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260 (ten years before the onset of the Eighth Crusade) there may have been little left of European Christianity and no golden arches to genuflect before or cowboys or any other trifles baubles and beads of western culture as we know it today. Think about that the next time you and your McNugget munching Rightwingerville conquistador cowpokes are dividing up the historic spoils with respect to who's in debt to who for saving whoever from whatever and so forth. Remember, you and your "Judeo-Christian West" may owe your own ass at some point down the line to an army of Egyptians and the ghosts of those who perished near Damascus in 1303 when the final lance was driven through the sordid forehead of the Mongol advance. Think about it Cliff. The Egyptians may have saved European Christian culture from the monstrous bloodbath of the prowling Mongol hordes! Humbling thought hain't it Cliff. Assuming you have any idea what a humbling thought constitutes.

On the subject of "Judeo-Christian West" and the tip toe through the bluebonnets that Cliff apparently imagines it too have been, let me also add this point. Before the Crusades were fully extinquished at Acre the ever excitable pious medieval Christains had long been prosecuting so-called anti-Christian heresies. "Judeo"-ism being a prime whipping boy. Anti-Semitic pogroms in England and Europe gave birth to all manner of quackeries designed to rid the "Judeo-Christian West" of the of the "Judeo" member of that cheery duet. In 1290 England's Edward I ordered his country's Jewish population to depart straightaway. And don't bother packing neither. Into the boat with you Jew, and if you're lucky enough to make it across the English Channel you'll find more of the same warm welcome wagon "Judeo-Christian" Crusader brotherly love on the far shore. So the miserable yarn unfolds. In 1236 Chrsitian crusaders instructed the Jews of Anjou and Poitou France to be baptized. Those who refused, numbering approximately 3000, were trampled to death under the hoofs of the crusaders horses.

In 1243 the entire Jewish population of Belitz, near Berlin, was burned alive on the charge that some of them had defiled a consecrated Host. [...] In 1298 every Jew in Rottingen was burned to death on the charge of desecrating a sacramental wafer. Rindfleisch, a pious baron, organized and armed a band of Christians sworn to kill all Jews; they completely exterminated the Jewish community at Wurtzburg, and slew 698 Jews in Nuremberg. ~3~

A wafer? Hows that for a Happy Meal Cliff? And on and on it goes.
The notorious "yellow badge" which appeared in Nazi Germany makes an early appearence as well. For instance, in early 14th century Spain:

"the ecclesiastical Council of Zamora (1313) decreed the imposition of the badge, the segregation of the Jewish from the Christian population, and a ban against the employment of jewish physicians by Christians, or of Chrsitian servants by Jews. ~4~

I don't think even Clifford May needs to be reminded of the Spanish Inquisition that followed nearly two hundred years later. Do I really need to go into Ferdinand and Isabella's God fearin' policy stance on "Judeo-Christian" cohabitation. Cliff?

Whenever I read about some bloviating Evangelical windbag explaining how some costumed fraud like George W. Bush came to be appointed by God or read some bit of holy-hoodwink horseshit from clowns like C. Dullard May or have to listen to some frog-eyed hick from the Southern Baptist Convention or some foul snarling mountebanke like William Donohue explain to me what God wants or what Biblical Law decrees or any other number of offensive imbecilities I can't help wondering how we came to be transported back to some kind of age of crusading stupidity. And who are these nuts signing up for this Ninth Crusade anyway?

One more thing Cliff, before I leap from my high white horse to rescue a trembling vesper sparrow from the jaws of a slobbering tutelary demon or stop a runaway orphan train from colliding with a schoolbus full of blind nuns returning from a Sisters of Santa Clara picnic - or what-ever. Do you really think that the Children's Crusades, for instance, were some high moment in the annals of Western civilization? And who in their right mind would believe that the internationally recognized symbol of the Red Cross is some kind of tribute to such mind bending insanity? And while I'm at it. Does GW Bush really think he's St. George slaying dragons and saving princesses in a fairy tale?


Fear nothing" he told her, "for I will help you in the name of Jesus Christ." At that moment the monster emerged from the water. George made the sign of the cross, recommended himself to Christ, charged, and plunged his lance into the beast. Then he bade the maiden throw her girdle around the neck of the wounded dragon; she did, and the beast, yeilding like any gallant to so potent a charm, followed her docilely forever afterward. ~5~

Uncle Karl closed the evenings foreign policy briefing book and looked down at the President fast asleep, dreaming of sloe-eyed princesses and fabulous dragons and crusades yet to be born. He snugged the blankets of the bed, kissed the boy good night and left the room in search of spooky Uncle Cheney.

The End. Ay-yi-yi.

*The International Red Cross is currently in the process of developing a new international emblem which will supplement both the traditional red cross on a white field as well as the red crescent. Thereby eliminating any false religious connotations attached to the current emblems. "Over 180 countries use one or the other of these emblems but some find it difficult to use either because they are seen as having religious connotations." See ICRC link above.

Notes 1-5. All blockquotes above excerpted from The Story of Civilization: Part IV
"The Age of Faith" by Will Durant. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1950.

Back to Corrente/Part 1 of post


Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they'd heard of pilgrims borne aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more into the elements from which it sprang. Out of that whirlwind no voice spoke and the pilgrim lying in his broken bones may cry out and in his anguish he may rage, but rage at what? And if the dried and blackened shell of him is found among the sands by travelers to come yet who can discover the engine of his ruin? ~ Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian

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