By Lex, on Sun – May 8, 2005
Haven’t seen the Kingdom of Heaven yet, but plan to.
With some trepidation.
Anything from Hollywood that goes looking at warfare between Christian crusaders and the forces of Sala a’din’s Islam has to deal with some fairly freighted context, given the current world situation. It doesn’t help when that context is also saddled with willful historical ignorance * – according to Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter,
” ‘Kingdom’ fulfills the requirements of grand-scale moviemaking while serving as a timely reminder that in the conflict between Christianity and Islam it was the Christians who picked the first fight.”
I bet it felt smugly superior to have typed that. I bet ol’ Kirk pushed himself away from the keyboard with a satisfied smirk. That’ll get ’em going in Jesusland, won’t it?
Well, yes. Yes, of course it will. And some of us here in California as well.
Lay aside the fact that the third Crusade occurred almost a thousand years ago, and has exactly as much to do with the War on Terror as the Diet of Worms has with the EU Constitution. Which is to say, nothing. What’s worse is that this editorial comment blandly passing itself off as a self-evident statement of historical fact is shockingly ignorant of actual history – Islam swept from east to west (and from Arabia east and north for that matter) on the point of the sword. The first Islamic assault on Constantinople (the seat of the Holy Roman Empire) was in 650 AD (or CE for those who prefer to label a puppy an “immature canine”). The tides of Islamic conquest swept through the Christian kingdoms of the Levant (Jerusalem had been a Christian kingdom for over three hundred years *) prior to conquering Christian Egypt (whose Copts are the last legacy of that time), chewing up the Balkans, jumping across the med to southern Spain and the battlefields of Tours, France and only ran out of steam at the gates of Vienna in Austria in 1683 – in relatively modern times.
The Crusades were an attempt to re-conquer stolen lands, relieve the threat against the Roman Empire in Constantinople (conquered by the way in 1453) and permit the free travel of pilgrims to and from the holy land without harassment. Now, far be it from me to make light of the murder and mayhem that Christian soldiers wreaked in their onward march, but those were hard and ugly times all the way around, with blame enough for all sides without obscuring the facts.
And. One of the elements underlying the despair and frustration which these days feeds young men into the Jihadi murder machine is a sense of historical injustice perpetrated upon the umma by enemies on all sides and throughout time, a self-serving history in which the Islamic conquests and crimes are in no way complicit. In this fantasy world, radical imams are encouraged by tyrannic regimes desperate to focus the swelling rage of the disenfranchised street onto someone, anyone but their own despotic selves.
We shouldn’t help them, through intellectual laziness and dedication to kumbaya political correctness.
* 07-08-18 Links gone; no replacements found – Ed.