I know, I know. Where to begin?
How about with all the Arab high dudgeon over the Crusades? Osama Bin Laden has cited the Crusades as one of the reasons for his own jihad (really just an Arabic word for - wait for it - a crusade!)
Let's leave aside for a moment perhaps the most salient fact - namely that the Crusades happened ALMOST A THOUSAND YEARS AGO and were not launched by any entity even remotely resembling any of today's nation-states.
Instead, let's concentrate on the hypocrisy inherent in Arab protestations over the injustices suffered at the hands of the Crusaders. I say inherent because I want you to think about the answer to a simple question:
How do you think Islam spread from its beginnings on the Arabian peninsula?
That's right - it was a crusade. Mohammed didn't charge his followers with going out and spreading his word and convincing other peoples to follow those teachings. Nope, ole Mo' told his followers to put other peoples to the sword to convince them. Those who "chose" not to convert in this method faced two choices: death or permanent second-class status (dhimmitude).
Islam has never been spread by proselytization. It has always relied on force and coercion for its spread. This seems a strange way to spread the "word of God". I will grant you that Christianity has had its share of forced converts, but that was a perversion of Christ's true intent. Christ charged his disciples with spreading his teachings and setting an example. In fact, most religions rely on some form of proselytization. Mormonism is perhaps the most recent example of this phenomenon.
The Arab crusade was only halted by Charlemagne's grandfather, Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer - I love that name), at the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers, but not to be confused with the 1356 battle of the same name, fought between the English and the French during the Hundred Years War) in 732 A.D. It was there near the French town of Tours that Martel defeated an army of Muslims and forever halted their northward advance up from the Iberian Peninsula. After that, the Moors were contained in Spain until they were driven out by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.
In a sense, the European Crusades could be seen as a reaction to the Arabs' earlier one as well as a, well, crusade to retake the Holy Lands (i.e., Jerusalem) from the Saracens (Arabs).
Think about that the next time you hear someone getting their panties in a bunch about the Crusades.
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