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Location: Ames, Iowa, United States

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Kingdom Of Heaven: History Or Propaganda?

The LA Times paints the situation depicted in the recent motion picture "Kingdom Of Heaven" as some sort of precursor to the current situation in the Middle East. In part, it is true. I have written about the real reasons of the Crusades before. The original idealism was quickly replaced by plundering and scavenging by the Christian forces. When Jerusalem was captured, the killing of innocents was common. But this was only in response to what had occured earlier, when the Turks had attacked the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. The Times decides to editorialize about the military strategy used then, and compare it to what is now happening:

"There are the refined Western doves and the boorish Christian hawks trying to maneuver in a not-very-peaceful truce with the Islamic kingdom they've successfully invaded. The movie doesn't touch on another similarity. The First Crusade began because Muslim Turks invaded Byzantine Christian territory centered in Constantinople. Rather than simply defend those lands, though, the Crusaders opted to add on something entirely unrelated: Jerusalem. The U.S. invasion of Iraq following the 9/11 attacks follows a similar illogic. Military victory then and now proved quick and simple compared with the aftermath."

The claim that the capturing of Jerusalem was based on some sort of "illogic" is ridiculous. The Muslims had eradicted the Jews and Christians in the area; at least those who refused to accept Islam. The Christian world was in disarray, with wars and infighting throughout Western Europe. With the attack on Constantinople, there was a reason to unite against an outside threat. The unity of the alliances formed were tenuous at best, as the film shows. There were those who took advantage to gain personal wealth, and those who were there to fight the "Good Fight". Since Jerusalem was considered to be the real home of Christianity, there was no illogic.

The Crusades were not quick and simple, even during times of success. The unfortunate acts of those who were out for personal gain set the groundwork for a seemingly perpetual war between the religions.

I'll be back

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