Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

Even though I voted for 'Crash', the rest of the attending members of the Friday Morning Movie Club voted in favor of 'Kingdom of Heaven' so that's what we went and saw yesterday. As I expected it was pretty light on historical accuracy and did a fine job as portraying Christians as bloodthirsty savages and the Muslims as a noble peace loving people. For more details on the PC'ing of KoH check out Zombietime or Beautiful Atrocities posts on the matter.

The fact is, both groups from around that era were not necessarily the nicest groups of people to deal with on a campaign. Both the Muslims and the Christians often performed wholesale slaughter when conquering new lands and in fact that was Saladin's original plan for Jerusalem when he forced their surrender. While the Christian slaughter is referred to a few times (and I have no problem with that as it did occur and should not be whitewashed), I don't remember one occasion where a similar Muslim act is mentioned. Even at the final surrender, Saladin is all smiles and is very gracious in victory (he even goes so far as to upright an overturned cross when he enters one of the palaces in the city). Here is a more accurate account of what transpired after the fall.

I'm just getting a little tired of all the anti-crusade historical re-writing out there. How many times do Christians have to say we're sorry for something that happened a thousand years ago. Sure bad things happened, which is often the case when people get involved, but the fact is the Crusades, while not the prettiest time in Church history, were a direct response to centuries of unchecked Muslim aggression against sovereign Christian states. The entire map of the region from Northern Africa, through much of the Middle East to Eastern Europe, now mostly Muslim countries, at one time were almost entirely Christian (including Palestine, Syria and Egypt). The Crusades were not a land grab or search for wealth (as KoH portrays them, although, once again once people were involved that was bound to happen), they were an attempt by the Church to both stop the Muslim push toward western Europe as well as an attempt to regain the 'Holy Lands' that were taken from them. Thomas F. Madden has a pretty good write up on the real reasons behind the crusades over at Crisis magazine.

The main problem is more of a PR issue. The Muslim acts of violently conquering countries and forcing their religion on other's were never grouped together under a single name (although they were technically part of the ongoing jihad against other religions) so they appear, in a layman's historical perspective as a series of isolated events. The Christian response, on the other hand have been given the collective title of 'The Crusades'. This makes it much easier to group together a couple centuries worth of religious based violence into what seems like one event, thereby making it seems that much worse.

Just had to get that off my chest and I figured here was as good a place as any to do it.


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