Since President Obama decided to compare Jihadists to Christian crusaders and lecture us about getting off our “high horses”, misinformation has flourished. The President managed to skillfully insinuate that the activities of present day terrorists are morally equivalent to actions of Christian crusaders (700 to 900 years ago). Predictably, there has been substantial reaction to those comments as well as a massive amount of analysis about the reactions to his comments. Analysis has been divided along ideological lines and understandably so. But there are some things that are simply bare historical facts.
The rise of both Christianity and Islam changed the ancient world and has shaped the world as we know it now. It is impossible to understand where we are now if we do not understand those two pivotal influences in world history. An understanding of that thousand years seems woefully lacking in political and journalistic circles.
It has always been a favorite trick of the left to mine the past for transgressions of its adversaries in order to publicly shame them into surrendering. The problem is that every religious group and every political movement has past sins. If history is going to be used as a tool, then the real questions should be about whether or not a group’s past purposes and behaviors match its present purposes and behaviors.
Christianity began from a group of frightened Jewish Jesus-followers in Jerusalem and rose to dominate the Roman Empire in its first 300 years. By 600 AD it was the ingrained value system and driving cultural force behind western civilization. Its accomplishment rested on the power of transformed lives via the soul of one person at a time. Its message was consistently one of grace, redemption and love – even toward one’s enemies. Neither Jesus nor any of the New Testament writers ever sanctioned, let alone demanded, political power as an instrument for establishing God’s kingdom or any other kingdom. Whatever one may think about the crusades, they were demonstrably not about world conquest or gaining conversions through the power of the sword. The fact is that the church roundly condemned crusader atrocities at that time and so does the Bible.
Islam used a completely different approach. It also began as a small peaceful band. After Muhammad’s epiphany in 610 AD, he gathered followers and attempted to promote submission to Allah through a spiritual message but with limited success. For most of the last ten years of Muhammad’s life he transitioned into military solutions. He died in 633 AD. From that point on and until the twelfth century (approx. 634 AD – 1100 AD), Islam grew principally through military and political victories. Its mission was to establish a universal religious-political kingdom on Earth. It used all the means that were common in that day – total destruction of towns and their populations, plunder, slavery and coercion. The choices were simple for the vanquished; convert, submit, or die.
Nine hundred years later, in the parlance of our day, “radical Islamists” are on the move again and getting stronger through the terror tactics of ISIS, Al qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban and so-called “lone wolves”. Radicals may represent only 10% to 20% of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide but they are loyal to the doctrine of abrogation, that later violent texts of the Koran such as chapter nine nullify earlier peaceful ones. They believe in a Jihad that is violent and historically justified.
Their mission is clear and their tactics are predictable because both have lived and thrived on the world stage for all but the blind or the complicit to acknowledge. ISIS does not broadcast beheadings and burnings because they feel misunderstood and are yearning to air their grievances. Boko Haram does not rape and enslave young girls because they are frustrated job seekers. The Taliban does not slaughter and mutilate children because they feel disenfranchised.
The principles that drive Islamic militants have not changed for over 13 centuries and it is not about to change now. Islam owned unlimited warfare in 634. It worked then and radicals’ thirst for submission and conquest is still perfectly suited to violent Islam now.
If the White House and the House of Islam are genuinely grieved by the actions of militants, they need to get their houses in order. If the White House, Washington politicians and the media want to preserve this nation, its freedoms and its blessings, they need to start speaking truth, grow backbones and meet Islamic radicalism head-on.