What Are We to Make of the West's First Genocide?





Mr. Pegg is the author of A Most Holy War: The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom (Oxford University Press).

In January 1208 a papal legate was murdered beside the Rhône River. Pope Innocent III accused Raimon VI, count of Toulouse, and heretics of the murder. He called upon all Christians to attack the count and to exterminate heretics between the Garonne and Rhône Rivers — a vast region that is now southern France — in a great crusade. This holy war, the first in which Christians were promised salvation for killing other Christians, lasted twenty bloody years and, imbued with a moral imperative to mass murder, ushered genocide into the West.

Although heretics were a feverish obsession amongst Latin Christian intellectuals during the last decades of the twelfth century, the idea of a grand exterminating holy war was the singular innovation of Innocent III. The threat from heresy and the necessity of eliminating that threat were fundamental in creating the Christ-like world that Innocent III struggled all his life to achieve. As the Son of God used His humanity to save the world, so ordinary men and women could use their humanity to imitate His divinity and so save themselves. This ability to resemble Christ through earthly activity, so much so that you really were Him, was the sublime religious phenomenon of the later Middle Ages. No other monotheistic religion has ever celebrated or promoted such a godly imitative ideal amongst ordinary believers. Previous popes had blessed wars between Christians but none had ever linked annihilating bloodshed with the redemptive gift of being like Him. “Love God, choose the Lord, seek Him, possess Him, enjoy Him,” motivated pope in sacred council and crusader in butchering frenzy.

This is not at all the same as saying that such redemptive slaughter was (or is) inherent or inevitable in Christianity (or in any religion). Neither is it arguing that the Albigensian Crusade was some sort of violent aberration in the history of Christianity. It is an argument for specificity in the study of religion, especially sacred violence. A seemingly straightforward and unexceptional claim — except when it comes to the history of religion. All too frequently, historians define religion by abiding doctrines, perennial philosophies, and timeless ideals. Scriptural consistency and theological cogency are what supposedly make religions, not poorly articulated thoughts or anomalous opinions, which get tossed aside as notional (and historical) irrelevancies. The scholarly fallacy behind it all is that pure principles form the core of every religion and that no matter how many civilizations rise and fall through the millennia, how many prophets come and go, the principles enduringly persist. Weightless, immaterial, untouched by historical contingency, they waft over centuries and societies like loose hot-air balloons. By combining these untethered beliefs almost any history (secret or otherwise) can be strung together. Meanings are elusive, resemblances ubiquitous. The past is not simply another country, it is an entirely different universe. At a time when the world is haunted by religiously inspired warfare, it is crucial that we rethink the ways religiion is studied. Religion must be seen as more than floating ideas, more than just ideology with gossamer wings.

A contemporary twist on these idealist assumptions is a high-minded empathy about past beliefs. Analysis is not based upon the interpretation of historical evidence but upon the emotional authenticity of a judgement. This posturing easily slips into claiming that only the religious can truly understand religion — and more stridently into insisting that only Christians can fathom Christianity, Jews unravel Judaism, Muslims decode… This blurring of thinking and feeling (and morality) surrounds us nowadays. Historians must forgo this consoling confusion, for it means taking sides, it means getting even with the past.

Insight into the Albigensian Crusade is advanced in no way, shape, or form, if I tell you how religious I am or if I express outrage that the pope exhorted all Christians to exterminate heretics. What happened during the crusade was horrific, but sanctimoniously grieving for the fallen neither comforts the dead nor helps the historian avoid the pitfalls of relativism. A history wrapped in mourning crêpe — whether on the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Gulag, the British Empire, the Inquisition, the Great Leap Forward, the Indian Wars, or Antebellum Slavery — might have its heart in the right place (when not on its sleeve) but its sincerity may be distortingly sentimental.

Any meditation upon the past that starts with the presumption that some things are universal in humans or in human society — never changing, inert, immobile — is to retreat from attempting an historical explanation. Studies are lauded which argue that there is, say, a pervasive male manner (with other men, with women, with meat) imprinted into masculine genes over a month of prehistoric Sundays. Or that minds always respond in similar ways to tragedy. Or that hereditary behaviourial traits impose habits (and occasionally beliefs) from one generation to the next. Or that religion is a primal response to primal fears. Millennia are flattened out, if not totally erased, in essentialism. Historical specificity is either dismissed as irrelevant or seen as epiphenomenal graffiti scratched upon (and so disfiguring) unchanging customs and concepts. Arguing for immutable values from biology is no different to arguing for immutable values from theology — selfish genes, selfish doctrines, they both deny history. Assuming that why we do what we do, why we think what we think, is somehow or other beyond our control, and that we would be this way in mind and body whether we lived in Cleveland in 1952 or Toulouse in 1218, forfeits the vitality and distinctiveness of the past to the dead hand of biological determinism, cognitive hotwiring, psychological innateness, liberal pleas for bygone victims, conservative pleas for God-given principles, and amaranthine mush about authenticity.

The Albigensian Crusade introduced genocide into the West by linking divine salvation to mass murder, by making slaughter as loving an act as Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This ethos of redemptive homicide is what separates the crusade massacres from other great killings before the thirteenth century. The Albigensian Crusade was a holy war unlike any other before it and, in its own bloody sibylline way, a terrible prediction of so much sacred violence in the world for the next millennium.


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N. Friedman - 3/17/2008

Art,

What else is new? Ms. Gee is not worht the time. She knows nothing about the topics under discussion. She makes no contribution. Forget her.


N. Friedman - 3/17/2008

Yes, Ms. Gee, there is substantial evidence regarding Bahmani Sultans. And the issue was not just whim - although that would be pretty bad, were it the case. Rather, the issue was religion. And, I am not alone in noting that the goal was genocide.

The rest of your comment is beneath contempt and unworthy of response other than to say that you make a lot out of a mistranslation.


art eckstein - 3/15/2008

Gee has no answer to either of my points.


Sally Gee - 3/15/2008

"The example of American infantry forces in Iraq going after terrorists and causing large numbers of civilian casualties in the process refutes Gee's example;"

I think this is perhaps the best evidence of a not very well kept secret amongst Europeans: that the United States Armed Forces are, sadly, amongst the most incompetently officered in the world.

"More of Gee's vicious prejudices matched only by her ignorance."

Hmmm... I think it is more a case of, "know the man, know his friends", Mr Multi-Awarded.


Sally Gee - 3/15/2008

"Thus, the provincial dynasty of the Bahmani Sultans made it a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus every year."

"Now, I cite this fact which is not really subject to much doubt. How can you doubt that such behavior is anything other than genocidal?"

Well, firstly, outside of a footnote by Gilbert Pollet, is there any evidence that this rule existed? If so. is there any evidence it was ever put into effect? If so, was it a matter of dynastic whim or religious necessity? If either, could a flat annual death count of 100,000 be considered genocidal in the context of a population measured in (at least) the tens of millions? In a Malthusian world, I would have thought the most basic numerical skills give the lie to that one.

And,

"And, your explanation of your view about retaliating for attacks is idiotic, since retaliation, by definition, does not meet the "intent" requirement (i.e. the intent is retaliation, not the destruction of a people) and, moreover, has nothing to do with the dictionary meaning of genocide."

I am reliably informed that, in the light of Vilnai's statement, the declared intention to use the illegal excuse of "retaliation" to murder a civilian population in the Occupied Territories, in the nature of things, is genocidal and, because the intention is clear and has been declared publicly, any member of the IDF involved in such "retaliatory" action will with full knowledge and in due deliberation act to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. And I suspect that, when the day comes, they will need better lawyers than you.


art eckstein - 3/15/2008

1. The example of American infantry forces in Iraq going after terrorists and causing large numbers of civilian casualties in the process refutes Gee's example; moreover, the numbers in the provisional IRA was small, not like Hamas. This issue is precisely why there was huge relief in the U.S. forces in April 2003 when Saddam decided not to engage in urban warfare in Bagdad. Before Gee pontificates on this issue, I suggest that she read up on urban warfare. Not that she will, of course. Her vicious prejudices are matched by her ignorance.


2. She doesn't know my friends at the University of Calcutta, yet she does not hesitate to call them hateheads and stupid because they know more about the record of Muslim rulers in India than she does, and they say things about the historical record that she doesn't like. More of Gee's vicious prejudices matched only by her ignorance.


Sally Gee - 3/15/2008

"Gee doesn't know my friends at the University of Calcutta, she doesn't even know their names. Yet she doesn't hesitate to concoct for HNN a "Zionist/Hindu Nationalist" conspiracy to defame Islam--rather than admit that Friedman was making an important point."

Not so much a conspiracy, more a common stupidity amongst religio-ethnic hateheads, Mr Multi-Awarded, and that is the only important point.

Oh, and:

"The use of infantry to go after terrorists who are intentionally hiding among civilians--Gee's preferred method--has been proven time and again to cause MORE civilian casualties than bombing."

So you're saying that the British government have concealed numerous civilian deaths in the killing fields of Northern Ireland and it's just that nobody has noticed the mass graves yet? Wow! Shouldn't you report it, or something?

But the British experience in Northern Ireland points to the fact that the only lesson of Israel's short history is, simply, if Israel wants to murder, it murders; if israel wants a peaceful solution, it creates the conditions for a peaceful solution; if Israel just wants more land, it commits genocide. And "lebensraum" is the fundamental logic of Zionism just as much as it was the fundamental logic of Nazism.


art eckstein - 3/15/2008

1.. My point is that the Israeli government is systematically pursuing genocide in the Occupied Territories.

This is a lie.

2. Gee doesn't know my friends at the University of Calcutta, she doesn't even know their names. Yet she doesn't hesitate to concoct for HNN a "Zionist/Hindu Nationalist" conspiracy to defame Islam--rather than admit that Friedman was making an important point.

3. Of course the Abligensian Crusade wasn't a pipsqueak for those who were killed. The point--and it is a simple point-- is that the conemporary Muslim devastations in India were on a hugely larger scale than anything that occurred in the West.




Sally Gee - 3/15/2008

"...your point is that there is a question about the number of Hindus killed..."

Oh no it is not, Mr Friedman. My point is that the Israeli government is systematically pursuing ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Occupied Territories, and I believe it should be stopped and that the criminals should be tried for the war crimes and the crimes against humanity they have committed. You seem to be saying that the commission of genocide by the Israeli Defence force is not so bad because, by some accounts which are themselves questionable, it is really only payback for the deaths of Hindus (and presumeably non-Hindus) at the hands of Muslims in the distant past.

As the ever more unhinged Mr Multi-Awarded comments, ""Perhaps so, but that is the topic under discussion at this point: the Muslim atrocities committed in India."

Not so, it is the massacre of the Cathars that was under discussion util Mr Friedman offered his standard backstory to justify genocide in the Occupied Territories.

"I also suggest that Gee talk to any Hindu about what the Muslim invasions and conquests did in terms of intentional destruction of Hindu culture. I know faculty at the University of Calcutta she might email."

It is useful to know that Zionist apologists for genocide in the Occupied Territories have maintained, and are no doubt developing their links with Hindi nationalist extremists committed to ethnically cleansing the Muslim polulation of India through open terrorism and he wishes me to share in their gossip. A generous offer, indeed, but no thanks, oh lover of other people's deaths.

"Frankly, the Albigensian Crusade is a pipsqueak compared to Mahmud, his predecessors, and his successors."

But no pipsqueak to the people who died nor in term of the subsequent fragmentation and development of Christianity and the people who were tortured and died in consequence in Europe and in the parts of the world which European Christians colonised and sought to colonise.


art eckstein - 3/15/2008

I suggest that Gee, instead of depending on wikipedia, broaden her education by reading any detailed scholarly biography of Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030) and examine the scale of casulties involved in his invasions of India, and the vast destruction of Hindu temples involved. And if Gee says, "that was all long ago", the point is--"Perhaps so, but that is the topic under discussion at this point: the Muslim atrocities committed in India."

I also suggest that Gee talk to any Hindu about what the Muslim invasions and conquests did in terms of intentional destruction of Hindu culture. I know faculty at the University of Calcutta she might email.

Frankly, the Albigensian Crusade is a pipsqueak compared to Mahmud, his predecessors, and his successors.


N. Friedman - 3/15/2008

Ms. Gee,

I might further add: you question the numbers killed by Muslims in India. Let us say that only 40 million people, not 80 million, were killed by the Muslim invaders of India. How does that make the invasion - in which Hindus were killed for the crime of refusing to convert to Islam - any less of a genocide.

Here is what appears in the book Indian Epic Values, by Gilbert Pollet (at page 33n.27):

Thus, the provincial dynasty of the Bahmani Sultans made it a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus every year.

Now, I cite this fact which is not really subject to much doubt. How can you doubt that such behavior is anything other than genocidal?

One last point about Hindus and Islam. It was not possible for a Hindus to be left to live in peace with Islam. Hinduism is, in Islamic theory of the time of the invasions, a pagan religion. Hence, it was not a permitted religion. And, those who follow religions that are not permitted have, by classical Islamic doctrine, only two choices: conversion or death. On this point, there is no doubt whatsoever. Later - e.g. during the Moghul period, greater accommodations for pagan Hindus were accepted. But, in the periods prior to that, Hindus were at grave risk. That is why, for example, the Bahmani Sultans were so very brutal to Hindus.

As for legal definition vis a vis Israel, only a bigot would interpret Israel's activities as genocidal. They neither come close to meeting the legal or the dictionary definition. And, your explanation of your view about retaliating for attacks is idiotic, since retaliation, by definition, does not meet the "intent" requirement (i.e. the intent is retaliation, not the destruction of a people) and, moreover, has nothing to do with the dictionary meaning of genocide.

Ms Gee: you are either a plant by the Israeli government asked to say such stupid things that no one other than a bigot would agree with you or there is an identity between the stupid things you say and your level of intelligence or, perhaps, you experience some form of frisson when you say nasty, stupid things about Jews - which is most likely, in my view.

Consider: we have the murder of, say 100,000 people per year for the crime of being Hindu. That, to you, is not genocidal. You have the killing of a few thousand people, without the intent to destroy a people, which you call genocide. Clearly, you are abusing the word "genocide" and removing it from its real meaning - which involves the wholesale killing of people.


N. Friedman - 3/15/2008

Ms. Gee,

Once we strip away the BS you assert, your point is that there is a question about the number of Hindus killed. But, of course, that does not change the intent - to destroy pagans - and the action - killing pagans. That is called genocide, by your definition.

Now, some historians disagree with Lal. Most, however, do not. And, as I noted, he is not alone in viewing the events as uniquely bad. So did Will Durant, who is widely recognized to be a great historian.


Sally Gee - 3/14/2008

The Brits have this brilliant expression when something is so absolutely irrelevant to the matter under discussion, Mr Friedman. "What's this got to do with the proce of eggs, anyway?"

The only sensible question about the spread of Islam across the Indian sub-continent, and which, as always, you so studiously (or stupidly. who knows?) ignore, is how many Muslim converts did they kill compared to those who bore arms and refused to convert to, or live in peace with Islam, and how many not bearing arms and not converting were allowed to go on their way and live in peace, an over what sort of time scale?

You basic figure of 80,000,000 Indians killed arises as, "An estimate of the number of people killed, based on the Muslim chronicles and demographic calculations, was done by K.S. Lal in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, who claimed that between 1000 CE and 1500 CE, the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million. His work has come under criticism by historians such as Simon Digby (School of Oriental and African Studies) and Irfan Habib for its agenda and lack of accurate data in pre-census times."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_India

It has, sadly, the usual ring of implausibility your "facts" carry with them like a little black cloud crying, "untrue. untrue" every time you put this kind of nonsense into play.

I also note that you agree with me on the precise meaning of Article 2 of the Genocide convention 1948 and that you merely disagree with me on whether Israeli defendants - and there will be many in many different venues in many different countries soon for, we must remember, Israel set the precedent with the Eichmann trial - and they will have the opportunity to argue lack of intent, although, the physical evidence, murders, starvation, bombardment of civilians, imprisionment, torture, withholding of medicines, the expansion of the settlements, the building of the Enclosing Wall, and the declared ain of Vilnai to bring down a Holocaust on the Gazans, &c, will not be in their favor, nor the favor of other nationals tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by or at the behest of the Israeli state, the settlers, foreign governments and contracting corporations, their executives, employees and subcontractors.

All it will take is a little wander into the wrong jurisdiction. Or maybe we should found a few competitive charitable organisations whose sole purpose is to render Israelis and their accomplices in war crimes and crimes against humanity from whatever country for trial in appropriate jurisdictions.


A. M. Eckstein - 3/14/2008

Gee as usual does not know what she is talking about.

1. The Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits the use of civilians as human shields by placing them in a way that renders certain points or areas immune from attack (Article 28). Therefore, the Palestinians in Gaza BEGIN the situation by violating the Geneva Convention--and yet it is something they proudly admit doing. Gee claims to love the Fourth Geneva Convention, though I doubt she has read the text very carefully. In any case, will she now admit that the Palestinians are guilty of a war crime?

2. The use of infantry to go after terrorists who are intentionally hiding among civilians--Gee's preferred method--has been proven time and again to cause MORE civilian casualties than bombing.

3. It is not a state's ARMED forces that are coming under attack from the rockets, Gee--it is a CIVILIAN population (Sderot, and now Ashkelon).


A. M. Eckstein - 3/14/2008

1. Then there is this:

"Saudi Scholar Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi: 50-60 People Perished in Jewish Holocaust. The Killing of All the Jews Will Not Be Satisfactory Compensation for the "Real Holocaust" in Gaza

Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi, head of the Department of Islamic Studies at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008.

Walid Al-Rashudi: One of the important things that we must tell people is that what is going on in Palestine today is a real holocaust. This is the real holocaust. A holocaust is not the burning of 50-60 Jews in Germany or Switzerland, but the Jews continue to call it the Holocaust. In case you don't know, let me tell you that more than 90% of the Muslims in the world do not know that the Jews receive reparations from Germany and Switzerland for the so-called Holocaust affair. We believe that there was indeed a holocaust, but how many died? 50-60 people? Afterwards, they used it to blackmail these two countries.

So what are we supposed to say in the face of the Gaza holocaust? What compensation will satisfy us? By Allah, we will not be satisfied even if all the Jews are killed."

"By Allah, we will not be satisfied even if all the Jews are killed." Unlike Gee's distortions about the term "shoah," there is not the slightest ambiguity here. Still, I doubt that Gee will be disturbed. Professor Waludi is the kind of academic she likes.

2. I challenge Gee to prove--with evidence--that any article of the Geneva Convention of 1948 on Genocide is being violated by the Israelis in Gaza. Start from the FACT that the population of Gaza is now 140,00 people higher than it was in 2003. Does THAT sound like the "systematic elimination of a population" to you? Only Gee could see it that way, of course!

And Gee, when I ask for evidence, you need to understand repeated feverish assertions of falsehood do NOT constitute evidence. Although you object to my asking for specific factual evidence as "a boot upon my neck," evidence is what HNN is about.

3. Gee has no response to the proud admission of the Hamas official that they intentionally use civilian shields.


N. Friedman - 3/14/2008

Ms. Gee,

I have to wonder why you, a non-attorney, would want to use a legal definition to argue against an attorney. That seems pretty dumb to me.

In any event, I note what the law says about genocide. In that this is not contraversial matter and shows you to be BS'ing once again, I quote from an online source:

The international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:

1) the mental element, meaning the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such", and

2) the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called "genocide."


Note that the Muslims had that exact required intent when it came to the Indians. That is, they intended to wipe out pagans - a religious group.

Note that section (a) of the types of acts which, with the correct intent, can be considered genocidal, includes: "(a) Killing members of the group."

So, we have an intention to wipe out a religious group and acts in furtherance thereof, namely, killing members of that religious group - in fact, killing 80 million members of that group. In other words, by the definition you prefer, we have genocide. In fact, we have among the worst genocides of all history, consistent with famed historian Will Durant's view of the circumstances.

Please note: I do not think that the noted legal definition is a particularly helpful one. I think it captures obviously non-genocidal acts and allows people not trained in the law to claim as genocide things which, from a case law and common sense point of view, do not involve genocide.

Notwithstanding my reservations, the legal and the ordinary definition of the word "genocide" captures exactly what the Muslims did to the Indians.

So, your problem here is that both the legal and the dictionary definition contradict your position.

In the case of Israel, there is no "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." Hence, there is nothing akin to genocide involved. And, I should add: by the dictionary definition and by common sense, it is not even a close call.


Sally Gee - 3/14/2008

I've already replied to this question but, out of deference to your legendary stupidity, I'll do so again and try to make it as simple as possible for you.

If a state's armed forces come under fire from rockets fired from among civilians, any attempt to retaliate by deliberately using armaments, such as shells, rockets and mortars, which have the known effect of wounding, maiming, and killing indiscriminantly, and of destroying real property and the physical infrastructure of that civilian population, is evidence of the clear intention to commit a war crime. In the context of the Occupied Territories, it is evidence of the clear intention to commit genocide. Therefore, if a war crime should take place - as seems to be the habitual behavior of the IDF - then it clearly constitutes a genocidal act under the terms of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948.

The obvious alternative in the Occupied Territories would be to send in troops to confront the "terrorists". This, however, demands a little courage and is much less conducive to the efficient conduct of genocide.


Sally Gee - 3/14/2008

But true, all the same, Herr Multi-Awarded, as a reading of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948 makes absolutely plain.

I don't think Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948 covers writing fan letters to Gunter Grass, though - although I dare say Mr Friedman will be perfectly happy to argue the case for you.


A. M. Eckstein - 3/14/2008

Israel is doing NONE of the actions listed in Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide convention, and this was proven to everyone but the mind-made-of-concrete Ms. Gee last week.

The only people engaging in ethnic cleansing, including the intentionally targetting of any Jew they can find, old, young, etc.,--or, in the famous case of the Palestinian George Khoury--anyone who even LOOKS Jewish the adopting of "Hitler" as a Palestinian first name, the use of the Nazi salute, and the vast popularity of Mein Kampf among the Palestinians, are the Palestinians themselves.

Nice symbol, among many, of this: When the famous German writer Gunter Grass revealed, stunningly and very late in the day, that he had been in the Waffen SS, he received a letter of SUPPORT from 46 prominent Arab writers.

Gee's attempt to link Israel with genocide is an intellectually and morally perverse slander.


A. M. Eckstein - 3/14/2008




Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields

Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Hamas MP Fathi Hammad,
which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008.

To view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1710.htm

Fathi Hammad: [The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people
has developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian
people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the
people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen
and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women,
the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist
bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: "We desire
death like you desire life."


To everyone but Gee, it will be clear from this quote which is the Nazi culture is in this situation. But of course Gee just continues her anti-semitic rants, so that on ANY topic she can come back to her slander that Israel is committing "genocide"--even though she has continually been made to look an absolute fool over making this charage.

And this evidence from the Hamas MP above puts "Case closed" to the issue of whether Hamas intentionally uses old people and children as shields from among who to fire rockets at civilians.

Gee has never ever been able to come up with a response to Michael Walzer:

When terrorists intentionally shoo hundreds of rockets at enemy civilians, while hiding among their own civilians and using them as human shields, the responsibility for what occurs from the counterfire lies with the terrorists–AND ONLY WITH THEM. They–and ONLY THEY–are responsible for the casualties among the civilians whom they intentionally hide among while shooting rockets at civilians.

I challenge her to answer that quotation now--especially in view of the vile comments about the use of old people and children by the Hamas official.


Sally Gee - 3/14/2008

Mr Friedman, your comments are merely evidence of your failure to effectively distinguish between the motivation driving what may reasonably be classed as militantly evangelistic religions, however deplorable the behavioral outcomes, and the deliberate and systematic use of genocide to further the ethnic cleansing of a land by a distinct and exclusive religious and racial group, which is the Zionist goal of the Jewish State in Palestine.

I think at all times it is sensible if you were to retrict yourself to the quite precise definitions of genocide in Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948 rather making it up as it suits your convenience and hatred of Muslims.


N. Friedman - 3/14/2008

Ms. Gee,

So, the massacre of 80 million people in order to destroy unbelief in the form of paganism is, to you, not genocidal. Ok. Then stop saying that Israel's response to Palestinian Arabs involves genocide. It certainly does not, most especially compared to what happened either in Albigensian Crusade or in India during the Muslim invasions.


Sally Gee - 3/13/2008

Before the present fashion for claims of genocide, largely to make two points if we are to consider Mr Friedman's viewpoint - the Germans, et al, did it to the Jews, and the Muslims to just about any group Mr Friedman can name off the top of his head, prompted or not by anything of relevance, however remote.

Zoé Oldenbourg's excellent but deservedly popular study, Le Bucher de Montségur of 1959, and published as Massacre at Montségur in English in 1961, did not make use of the concept or term, genocide, but rather speaks of the background to, and conduct of. the Albigensian Crusade, the Massacre, the Inquisition, the consequences for the people and the Church. No mention of genocide though. Maybe the agreeably contemporary concept of genocide is too simple a straightjacket, or even an optional add-on, in which to place a series of very complicated events, even including mass murder and torture, with complex political, ideological and theological causes, and complex outcomes for the French Church the French State and for the people of the Languedoc whose effects have been felt into the present.

I also think that there are some things which should be considered sacrosanct from Mr Friedmand's contemporary instrumental concerns about the current balance of hate, fear and loathing between Jews and Muslims.

Although I disagree with Mr Mark Gregory Pegg's application of the term genocide to the Albigensian Crusade, I do look forward to reading his book very much and seeking to understand his arguments in detail.


N. Friedman - 3/13/2008

Sally,

My point was to note that the Albigensian Crusade was not the first genocidal act known to history. It was one of a great many including, perhaps among the worst of al, the treatment of Indians by Muslims. I note famed historian Will Durant's view that the conquest by Muslims of India "is probably the bloodiest story in history.</i>


Sally Gee - 3/13/2008

Oh, right. And I suppose you really think it conveniently and glibly balances out the hatehead rhetoric of:

"One last point. I doubt that genocide began with Albigensian Crusade. It was a horrible episode but, to note, there were also efforts at eradicating entire peoples during the Muslim conquest of India. According to historian K.S. Lal, some 80 million or so Indians were killed by the Muslim invaders who, finding pagan Hindus, etc., in India, slaughtered people wholesale. And, doctrine was involved in the event as Islam's willingness to accept people of the book (e.g. Christians and Jews) did not apply."

Central purpose or what?


N. Friedman - 3/13/2008

Ms. Gee,

I made no anti-Muslim spin. I merely noted that there have been genocides long before the which is the subject of the article. I noted circumstances about which I have read.

I also noted - which contradicts the gist of your statement:

It is to be noted that such wholesale slaughter likely did not begin with Islam. It likely goes back to the dawn of time.


Sally Gee - 3/13/2008

I just love the way everything seems to offer Mr Friedman the opportunity for a bit of anti-Muslim spin. What a guy!


N. Friedman - 3/11/2008

I must say that this article is intriguing.

I have points of criticism.

The article cautions against falling into an essentialist trap of seeing enduring ideas in a religion. Yet, there is the question of whether there are ideas innate to Christianity, or to Judaism, or to Islam, among other religions. I do think it can be said that, while caution is due when suggesting such to be the case, there are, in fact, ideas inherent to given faiths and that endure in them.

Following through with that idea, think of a religion as one might think of a word. A word can be thought of as a tool in a toolbox, to borrow Wittgenstein's phrase. The appropriate tool - read: idea or doctrine, in the case of religion - can be brought out to address the appropriate occasion although some are in use everyday.

So, a doctrine can fall into disuse or, perhaps, be pulled out to deal with a particular situation. Other ideas are are constants as they concern everyday life; such ideas tend to change little or, at least, very slowly. Other ideas, being like tools in the toolbox, are put to the same and to new uses, depending on circumstance. The article addresses one such circumstantial idea, the crusade, an idea which has fallen into disuse in recent centuries.

One last point. I doubt that genocide began with Albigensian Crusade. It was a horrible episode but, to note, there were also efforts at eradicating entire peoples during the Muslim conquest of India. According to historian K.S. Lal, some 80 million or so Indians were killed by the Muslim invaders who, finding pagan Hindus, etc., in India, slaughtered people wholesale. And, doctrine was involved in the event as Islam's willingness to accept people of the book (e.g. Christians and Jews) did not apply. While accommodations were later made, there was much loss of life before they were eventually made.

It is to be noted that such wholesale slaughter likely did not begin with Islam. It likely goes back to the dawn of time.

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