Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Villainy: The Fourth Crusade Revisited

by Joe Hargrave

My post on the crusades has promoted a lot of discussion, here and around the web. I want to thank those who have linked to it on their blogs, including – and I know this won’t improve my reputation with some folks – Ann Coulter. Whether one agrees or disagrees with my perspective, it is a discussion long overdue, and one that ought to continue.

This post may not garner as much attention, since I am going to address relations among Christians, as opposed to those between Christians and Muslims, but I feel it is equally important. For another old canard is often floated around in discussions about the Crusades – that the noble, peace-loving Eastern or Byzantine Christians were the perpetual victims of the rapacity and greed of the Latin Crusaders.

Indeed, a certain commenter who accused me of “painting in black and white”, and engaging in a “dark dualism”, did more to paint such a picture with regards to inter-Christian relations. Well, I’ve always known that knee-jerk criticism (as opposed to the kind that, well, actually addresses the arguments made) is usually little more than projection. But there were others who made this point, and I have encountered it many times in the past.

Again, I cannot give an exhaustive historical review in a blog post. My goal here will be to highlight some basic historical facts and provide perspectives, and those who wish to add facts in the comments are welcome to do so.

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Enough is Enough: The Crusades & The Jihad Are Not Equivalents

by Joe Hargrave

One of the memes – the unconscious, uncritical, lazy thoughts that spreads from person to person like a virus – that has been particularly virulent during this ground-zero mosque controversy is that Christians have no standing to criticize the violence of Islam, given a supposedly violent Christian history. And no one event is more often invoked as an example of Christian hypocrisy than the so-called “Crusades” (so-called, because no one who fought in them called them that).

The latest and most appalling example appears in the NY Times, courtesy of a Nicholas D. Kristof. Among the many absurdities one can find in this column, including definitive claims as to the intentions and desires of Osama bin Laden, Kristof writes,

Remember also that historically, some of the most shocking brutality in the region was justified by the Bible, not the Koran. Crusaders massacred so many men, women and children in parts of Jerusalem that a Christian chronicler, Fulcher of Chartres, described an area ankle-deep in blood. While burning Jews alive, the crusaders sang, “Christ, We Adore Thee.”

What could be more logical, more pertinent, more relevant, than to invoke thousand-year old wartime excesses as proof that Christians have no grounds to criticize Islam?

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