How Islamists Use the Crusades





Jonathan Riley-Smith's latest book is The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam (Bampton Lectures in America).

Western men and women have wiped the reality of the crusades from their minds. They ignore the important part crusading played in Christian history and they have forgotten how recently it was respectable. Unable to face up to the past, they have reinvented it to suit their notions of what it ought to have been. The irony is that in Islamist jihadi propaganda they are all crusaders themselves. There is hardly a statement of Osama bin Laden which does not include a reference to present-day crusades, which, he is convinced, have been launched by the West in a global war. Jihadis like him identify as one of their most potent enemies a force they call Crusaderism, which they believe to be much more ancient than Marxism, Zionism and Colonialism. It lurks behind and manipulates these surrogates, with the sole purpose of destroying Islam.

We cannot reply to the Islamists, because we do not comprehend or even recognize the sources of the language they use, and we fail to see that, even though they do not recognize this themselves, their point of reference is not the middle ages but the nineteenth century.

Positive ideas and images of the crusades survived in Europe into the very recent past. The rise of imperialism after 1800 was enveloped in clouds of pseudo-crusading rhetoric, portraying adventures in Algeria, Morocco and even Indo-China in crusading terms, although these enterprises had nothing at all to do with the old reality. There were a few para-crusading projects, in which genuine but distorted elements from the old movement were selectively re-used, and there was at least one authentic expression of crusading, the foundation by Cardinal Lavigerie in 1890 of a true military order, L’Institut Religieux et Militaire des Frères Armés du Sahara. The Institut did not last long, but its existence demonstrated how powerful a hold the crusades still had on the European imagination.

Nineteenth-century language and imagery drew on two influential sources. Joseph-François Michaud’s epic Histoire des croisades, published between 1812 and 1822, had been imbued with a passionate  nationalism and with a vision of the crusades as instruments of western civilization. The enthusiasm it generated in France and elsewhere was expressed in the popular association of imperialist ventures with pseudo-crusading. On the other hand, Sir Walter Scott’s four crusade novels, published between 1819 and 1831, had painted a less flattering picture of crusaders who were brave and glamorous, but also vainglorious, avaricious, childish and boorish, facing Muslims who were their cultural superiors.

The romantic imperialistic tradition stemming from Michaud was obviously at odds with the critically romantic one adopted by Scott and his followers. To the romantic imperialists the crusaders had brought enlightenment to a heathen world, whereas in Scott’s critically romantic version, they were barbarous and destructive and compared poorly with civilized and modern-thinking Muslims. But with the decay of imperialism in the twentieth century these contradictory visions fused in the West into a historiographical tradition which still colors popular conceptions and a similar convergence occurred in the Muslim world, although it was expressed in different terms.

In the 1890s the Ottoman Turkish sultan Abdulhamid II, whose empire was under severe pressure from the Russians, Greeks, French and British, asserted that the west had revived the crusades. His announcement aroused the interest of Muslims who had previously been indifferent to crusade history; they believed, after all, that they had comprehensively defeated the medieval European invaders of the Levant. And Abdulhamid’s equation of imperialism with crusading, for which he could hardly be blamed, given all the rhetoric that had washed round western Europe, struck a chord with Arab Nationalism, beginning to emerge in response to the British and French occupation of much of North Africa and the Levant and the settlement of Jews in Palestine. It was easy for the Nationalists to interpret the Michaudist vision of western forces returning to complete a work of enlightenment as evidence that Europe, having lost the first round in the crusades, had embarked on another. The idea of a continuing western assault on the Arab world by the heirs of morally and culturally inferior crusaders featured in Arab writings between the World Wars and was given additional edge in the 1940s by what was seen to be complicity in the creation of the state of Israel on the very ground occupied by the “crusader” kingdom of Jerusalem. Twenty years later the Islamists, who rejected much of the rest of Arab Nationalism, began to take over and globalize this package.

It is notable that the West has not tried to counter their historical vision, in spite of the fact that it is obviously a distortion of reality. As co-heirs of the traditions that originated in the writings of Michaud and Scott, most westerners seem to regard crusading in much the same light, with the difference that they are ashamed of it rather than defiant. And, suffering from collective amnesia with respect to crusading in general and its association with imperialism in particular, they do not know what the Islamist jihadis are talking about.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


art eckstein - 12/28/2008

RRH:

Regarding that last point, that the Crusades were at a macro-level a Christian counter-attack against Arab/Muslim occupation of Christian holy sites--that's another aspect that Pope Urban II emphasizes in his speech at Clermont.


art eckstein - 12/28/2008

RRH:

1. I think a monthly "Bellisles Award" on this site is an excellent idea!

2. I am a real university professor (in fact, just this month won "The Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award" at my university: it only goes to five faculty a year out of a faculty of 1900; no doubt this will drive Omar crazy--or rather, even crazier).

3. The idea that Prof. Kuzmarov was leading a teach-in on Iraq and Afghanistan is scary. But I've seen scarier things, such as Prof. Michael Klare (of "Peace Studies" at Hampshire College) leading a teach-in on 9/11 the month after the attack. Care to guess who he blamed as ultimately responsible for the attack? I'll give you a hint: the first letter of the first word is U...

4. I wasn't advocating intervention in Swat. Nothing can be done except by the Pakistani military, and they won't do it. The tragedy to those girls whose only crime against Islam is that they want to learn does, however, throw new light on the concept "declining culture", I would say.

5. I agree that at one macro-level the Crusades were indeed a counter-attack against the Turkish Conquest. This had to do with restoring the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean upset by the Seljuk victory at Manzikert; Pope Urban II preached this at Claremont in 1095. The Byzantine Empire was the major ally of the Kingdom of Jerusalem until 1186, when sharp internal divisions among the Byzantines spelled growing military weakness on their part , and hence weakened the King of Jerusalem vs. Saladin.

But at another, even more macro-level, the Crusades were also a Christian counter-attack against the Arab Conquests of the 640s.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/28/2008

I think with a little effort, I could make the "Michael Bellesiles Award for Historical Research" a monthly event here at hnn. I am reminded by something that I once heard, I think, Ronald Reagan say: "It's not that our opponents are ignorant, it's that so much of what they know just isn't true." One of the scary things, in "Prof." Kuzmarov's case, is that I see in his online CV that he recently led a "teach-in" about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. If you, Prof. Eckstein, are really a college professor, I'd like to ask your opinion on what can we mere laity do to help rid our universities of the neocom nincompoops(1) that infest it?

As far as the girls' schools in Talibanistan, that's a tragedy, but any idea that the U.S. should use its military forces to oppose it is also exactly the kind of "do-gooder imperialism" that I don't want to see the U.S. involved in. Also, it has come to my recent attention that most "education" in the Islamic Third World consists of memorizing the Koran in Arabic -- actually, I should say memorizing the sounds of the Koran, since no translation is done. The poor kids learn the Koran the way we in America learned foreign language songs like "Frere Jacques" -- all sound and no meaning until we learned the English version of the song as "Are You Sleeping". No wonder, then, that where Islam rules no competing faiths are permitted to vie for the loyalties of the people. Were it otherwise, I doubt Islam would last two generations.

One last thing, returning to some of our previous discussions: I still would not characterize the Crusades as "a counterattack against the Arab Conquest". The latter occurred 450 years before the Crusades, so a nexus is hard to justify. Therefore, I continue to hold that the Crusades are better explained as "a counterattack against the Turkish Conquest".

(1) There are a few neocoms who are actually fairly intelligent. Perhaps five percent. Those we should keep on staff as cantankerous, but entertaining, relics of a bygone age.


art eckstein - 12/27/2008

As yes, my source (since the story is unbelievable, really): Pakistan Times (leading paper in Pakistan), Dec. 26, 2008:

Here's the headline and part of the story:

Taliban ban to keep 40,000 girls from schools in Swat

* Locals say they are helpless, have no option but to accede to Taliban pressure

By Daud Khattak

PESHAWAR: The future of around 40,000 girls in Swat is at stake following a Taliban ban on education for female students.

Shah Duran, the deputy of Swat-based Taliban cleric Fazlullah, has warned the administrations of government and private educational institutions to not enrol girls in schools.

The Taliban on Wednesday issued a deadline for January 15 for the ban to be implemented, following which they said they would bomb the buildings of schools allowing girls to study.

The Taliban have blown up more than 100 girls’ schools in Swat in the past 14 months.

Helpless: Locals say they are helpless and have no other option but to accede to the Taliban’s pressure as the government has failed to provide them with securuty.

“This is terrible,” the principal of a private school in Mingora told Daily Times, requesting that the name of his school should not be mentioned as that would risk his life and property...


art eckstein - 12/27/2008

RRH, I loved your comment there--backed up by convincing evidence! This is what HNN is all about.

In terms of school-children, I see that the Taliban in Swat (once one of the most beautiful places on earth) have decreed the end of female schooling there: they have announced that all schools for young girls will be blown up, that any girls trying to go to school will be subject to extreme violence. THAT is the reality of radical Islam.

They also announced that any women leaving their home in anything but the full burka kit will be subject to extreme violence.

They also forbade innoculation of children for polio, on grounds that this was a Western plot to induce impotence in men.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/27/2008

I believe you, Prof. Eckstein. Btw, speaking of Iraq, did you see there's a new article by "Prof." Jeremy Kuzmarov just below this one on hnn.us?

http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/56488.html


art eckstein - 12/27/2008

RRH:

I think you'll find that the Rashid Ali coup was in early April 1941. Almost the first act of the Rashid Ali govt was to ask for German air support. Yes, the airplanes didn't arrive until the middle of May. And while the main base of the Luftwaffe in Iraq was indeed Mosul, as you say, there were German fighter-planes stationed in Bagdad as well; in fact they arrived at Bagdad first, on May 11 (the British later shot down two of these Bagdad ME 110s at one point).


R.R. Hamilton - 12/27/2008

A nitpicking:

According to my research, a German Luftwaffe force arrived in Mosul on May 12, 1941, and another in Damascus on May 15, 1941. I'm not aware of one being stationed in Baghdad. The Axis-friendly government of Rashid was overthrown on May 31, 1941.

It is one of the ironies of history that in May, 1941, with the Iraqi rebellion, the success of Rommel in Libya, and the conquest of Greece and Crete, Hitler had the windpipe of the British Empire in his thumbs. He threw away the opportunity in order to invade the USSR the following month.


N. Friedman - 12/25/2008

Elliott,

You may be correct. I think you should put this point to Omar and see if he responds to your point.

As you can see, Omar made a fool of himself on this page. Maybe he even realizes how foolish his comments were.


art eckstein - 12/24/2008

Dear Elliot,

A "Myths of Muslim Innocence, II" column, focused primarily on the racism in "1001 Nights" (e.g., quoting Crouch) but perhaps putting as the broader context the enslaving of black Africans for centuries by Arabs (and of course it's still going on in the Sudan)--that would not take VERY long to do and would be fun and important to put on HNN.

I urge you to do it at some point soon! But of course most folks are indeed busy earning a living... :)

Art


Elliott Aron Green - 12/24/2008

A great idea, Art. If I had world enough and time, as the poet said. I really would like to do a study like that, but other matters are keeping me busy.

The good news --albeit eleven centuries old-- is that there was a major slave revolt by Black slaves in the Arab-Muslim domain, the Revolt of the Zanj, 869-883 CE. This slave revolt is one of the major or the major slave revolt in history, probably overshadowing that of Spartacus in scope [not sure]. Certainly, it is impressive for lasting 14 years, holding off the Caliph's armies. In
... the salt flats east of Basra... unprecedented numbers [of slaves] were employed by the wealthy men of [Basra]... in draining the salt marshes in order to prepare the ground for agriculture and to extract the salt for sale. They worked in gangs of from 500 to 5,000; one gang of 15,000 is mentioned. Their conditions were extremely bad. Their labor was hard and exacting and they only received a bare and inadequate keep consisting, according to Arabic sources, of flour, semolina, and dates. Many of them were Africans of recent arrival..."
"The military record of the Zanj was brilliant. One imperial army after another suffered defeat, enriching them with slaves, booty, and especially arms..."

[Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History (London 5th ed., 1970), pp 104, 105]

This episode could be a source of pride for Black people in America and Africa if they knew of it. The fact that it is so little discussed might relate to the same reasons that brought about the Myth of Arab Innocence.

You probably know that Eldridge Cleaver came back from a stay in Algiers with some negative observations about racial attitudes among the people in that city.


art eckstein - 12/23/2008

You are right, Elliott: the line that the Arabs and Muslims knew no color prejudice is part of the myth of Arab innocence.

Maybe you should have a posting devoted just to this aspect of the myth--Racism in "The 1001 Nights". That would be very interesting.

Besides a detailed exposition of "The 1001 Nights", you could discuss the vast Arab and Muslim slave-raiding and slave-trading in eastern and central Africa. The Arabs and Muslims took almost as many slaves out of eastern and central Africa into the Middle East as the Europeans took from western Africa into the New World.

The only reason Muslim slave-raiding and slave-trading declined in Africa was because of the rise of liberalism in Europe, which led to the abolitionist movement which was based on the moral repugnance to slavery, and this led eventually to the suppression of Muslim slavetrading by European powers, especially the British Navy.

This vast Muslim atrocity, too, has all been conveniently forgotten, especially by Western intellectuals, and the failure to retain this memory has thus become part of the "myth of Muslim innocence" too.


art eckstein - 12/23/2008

Aron, I don't think the British were in control of Bagdad when that occurred.

The pro-Nazi coup of Rashid Ali (in which Amin al-Husseini was involved) had even led to the stationing of a Luftwaffe squadron in Bagdad by April 1941. The Farhud massacre, the last act of the Rashid Ali government, was the result of approaching British forces but my understanding is that they weren't there yet. Thus the British can't be blamed for the Farhud. Iraqi pro-Nazis can.

Like the vile and genocidal Husseini, Rashid Ali was a friend of Hitler, and spent the rest of the war in Berlin.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/23/2008

Omar's sneering use of the word "herd" in his post #130261 reminds me of the Arabic word ra`ayah [related to the Hebrew ro`eh = shepherd] which means something like herd or flock. Ra`ayah was often used to refer to the non-Muslim subject peoples, dhimmis, in the Ottoman Empire. They were considered to be just a herd or a dumb flock. Could Omar be referring to fellow discussants on this comments thread in such a demeaning way?


Elliott Aron Green - 12/23/2008

Right. Now, I'm wondering, can we say that this abstention from action was of a piece with the British abstention from action in 1941 during the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad?

By the way, Art, in his research, Zamir used French documents and British and relevant Arab documents intercepted by the French.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/23/2008

Art, Kudos to Stanley Crouch. Thanks for this info.

I was taking a grad anthropology course many years ago and the prof came out with the line that Arabs-have-no-color-prejudice. So I brought in my copy of Newby's translation of selections from the 1001 Nights. I showed him the framework tale. I think he was convinced. Now the 1001 Nights is a very widely known book. Probably better known in the West than the Quran. Yet we still hear the line about no color prejudice among the Arabs, also despite Bernard Lewis' books on the subject. I think that's part of the myth of Arab innocence that I was considering in my article here at HNN of that name.


art eckstein - 12/22/2008

One of the leading and most innovative African-American intellectuals is Stanley Crouch, "a fearless writer" as Charles Johnson (winner of the National Book Award for "The Middle Passage") calls him.

Here's what CROUCH has to say about "A Thousand and One Nights":

"Many misinformed Negroes were shaken to learn that Arabs STILL sell black slaves, whom they consider inferior. Interviews with black Africans on iaboltion.cm show how UNREFORMED are Arab attitudes towards them, and I mean RIGHT NOW. These cultural attitudes can be seen, as Playthell Benjamin pointed out to me, in the first story of "A Thousand and One Nights". the bestial descriptions of black men and the sexual paranoia are right there. Here we find what might be the first classic racist descriptions of black people. In "A Thousand and One Nights" those descriptions appear in conjunction with the sexual fear of black men and the idea that Arab women could become slaves to their tools and lose their minds to debauchery."

from Stanley Crouch, "The Artificial White Man: Essays in Authenticity" (2004), p. 214.


art eckstein - 12/22/2008

A classic example of British "complicity" in the rise of Israel is how the British armed forces stood by and allowed 79 Jewish doctors, patients and medical students to be BURNED TO DEATH in busses over several hours by Arab milita in the Mt. Scopus Masscre of April 1948. Also called the "Haddassah Hospital Medical Convoy Massacre."

The British military was begged to help but refused.
This occurred in Jerusalem.


art eckstein - 12/22/2008

Aron, we can't, because:

a. The State Dept and the academics are delusional, and the academics at least are "multiculturally" delusional and see Hezbollah as somehow more "authentic" than a Westernized Lebanon, while
b. there is no force on the ground that can militarily resist Hezbollah, which
c. is itself motivated strongly by a millenarian Islamic imperialism.

A hopeless situation as far as I can see. Even though Hezbollah does not represent a majority of the population, and indeed the majority of the population is culturally more Westernized than the followers of Hezbollah are, more tolerant in every way than the followers of Hezbollah are, and thus a majority of the population would prefer an open and Westernized Lebanon, the religious fanatics have the majority of the force, and the motivation to attack.

Not unlike the 7th century.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/22/2008

Riley-Smith writes that Arabs --many or most or few, R-S doesn't say-- saw "complicity" by the West in the rise of Israel.

The idea of a continuing western assault on the Arab world by the heirs of morally and culturally inferior crusaders featured in Arab writings between the World Wars and was given additional edge in the 1940s by what was seen to be complicity in the creation of the state of Israel on the very ground occupied by the “crusader” kingdom of Jerusalem.

No doubt many Arabs believed this and were taught this. But others knew that this claim was false. Especially in regard to Britain that energetically helped the Arab cause against Zionism and Israel. British policy helped Hitler's Holocaust [see A. Morse, Laqueur, William Perl, Gilbert, Wassertein, etc]. After WW2, UK policy opposed prosecution of Haj Amin el-Husseini as a war criminal at Nuremberg. Moreover, Britain helped to arm the Arab armies fighting Israel. Two recent articles by Israeli historian Meir Zamir in HaArets reveal British policy at that time and some of its motives. British imperialism was definitely against Israel in the 1945-1949 period. British policy today is still anti-Israel. So the notion of "Western complicity" in Israel's creation surely does not apply to Britain. On the other hand, the delusion of uniform Western support for Israel is commonly believed by "Leftists" and many in the academic world, where certain cliches commonplace in the press are not critically examined.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/22/2008

Art E has clearly made the point that for Omar it's not imperialism that's bad but the wrong people doing it is bad. Obviously this is hypocrisy on his part and Sultan Abdul-Hamid quoted by Riley-Smith was a hypocrite too.

Now, how about Omar's claim of Muslim color-blindness? Bernard Lewis has written Race and Slavery in the Middle East, and an earlier book called, I think, Race and Color in Islam. Lewis argued that Muslims/Arabs had color prejudices, just as many Europeans had and have. On the other hand, let's give the devil his due. The Muslims were quite often equal opportunity enslavers. They had white slaves from northern climes and black slaves from bilad as-Sudan and swarthy or olive-skinned slaves from the Mediterranean region, and Punjabis and Tamils and Gujaratis and so on. So if we only look at the skin color of their slaves, we might say that Omar is right. They enslaved all sorts of folks. That sort of color-blindness might even be considered commendable. This requires further study.

Yet, if we read the 1000 and 1 Nights tales, then we find special hostility to Jews, Blacks, Tunisians [called "Africans" in some translations], etc. How about the Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince and the framework tale of the Shah's wives and the Black slaves, for 2 examples? How about, on the other hand, the parents of abducted boys in the Caucasus whose sons were taken to be Mamluks? How did they feel about this anti-racism and color-blindness? The problems are truly ponderous.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/22/2008

Yes, Art, a striking example of decline and an interesting, saddening story. But how do we convince the State Dept and the incoming prez and much of the more "progressive" part of academia and the press that the Hizbullah takeover of Lebanon should be resisted?


art eckstein - 12/22/2008

P.S.:

I'd say that's a pretty good definition of "decline."


art eckstein - 12/22/2008

Mr. Green is exactly right that Beirut at the time of the Arab conquest was the seat of a famous school of Roman law.

By contrast, last month I met a woman who was a lawyer from Beirut. She was working as a secretary here in the U.S. The reason: Hezbollah had threatened to throw acid in her face if she, a woman, attempted to practice law.

She was a Sunni Muslim.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/22/2008

Wbat I think remarkable about the Byzantine Empire, what kept its culture at a high level, was --in my opinion-- more its preservation of classic Greek & Latin culture, rather than Christianity. This can be debated of course. However, in the spirit of Omar's "ascending" culture notion, let's note that --at the time of the Arab conquests-- Beirut was the seat of a school of Roman law and Gaza --Yes, Gaza-- was the seat of a school of rhetoric, Greek rhetoric, I believe. Now, would it be indelicate to compare Gaza before the Arab conquest with Gaza today?? Would Gaza today be called civilized? Really!! Is that a question that takes much time to answer??

Comparisons, they say, are invidious. But sometimes we just have to compare.
Gaza then had a Jewish population too, although I have no doubt that the local Christian orthodox harassed them from time to time and tried to restrict the Jews' religious rights.

Most of the population in Gaza and in Israel then spoke Aramaic. This seems to have been true for Jews, Samaritans, pagans [if still around then], and Christians. Some of the Christian scholars at the school of rhetoric had "bar" [son of in Aramaic] as part of their names in Greek. So the wealthy and more educated may have spoken more Greek and the less rich and less educated in general spoke less Greek, and many Jews who knew Greek probably spoke Aramaic on principle, but they usually did know Greek. That goes for the rabbis too. The rabbinic writings of the time show a lot of Greek words and some Latin, often pronounced somewhat differently.

Now, this civilization --with all its tensions, religious hostilities and other faults-- was ended with the Arab conquest. The early Arab conquests also involved considerable population transfer or "ethnic cleansing" and migration and massacres and transferring population from one place to another where the previous inhabitants had fled, been driven out, or massacred. This was especially so for the coastal towns and cities from Gaza north to Arwad [Ruad] in northern Syria [I know that Arwad is an island]. The early Arab historian al-Baladhdhuri reports this. Indeed, he reports that Jews were transferred from somewhere [he does not specify from where] to resettle Tripoli [now in Lebanon] whence the earlier population had fled, been expelled or massacred [I forget which]. The Arabs may have preferred Jews on the coast since the Jews resented the Byzantine Empire for its persecution of them, and were less likely to support Byzantine attempts at reconquest. In the long run, the Arabs were probably worse for the Jews.

So I certainly would not agree with Omar that Arab culture at that time was superior. Further, the rosey-colored view of the Arab conquests disseminated by various modern British & American writers [and State Dept operatives] is highly unjustified.


art eckstein - 12/21/2008

Yes, indeed.

Of course, you're speaking as a representative of a culture that believes both in evidence and in logical argument.


N. Friedman - 12/21/2008

Professor,

I am still waiting to learn why Omar thinks that the Muslim conquerors were culturally ascendant.


art eckstein - 12/21/2008

Perhaps, Mr. Friedman, Omar is upset at a culture that because it believes in facts and truth, interprets the following statement from him as what it is: a classic justification for imperialism, right out of the 19th century European imperialist vocabulary.

Here is Omar's unforgettable statement from Dec. 17 at 10:58 a.m.--justifying the violent expansion and conquests of 7th century Islam against indigenous non-Muslim cultures on the grounds that it was simply the natural historic process whereby "declining" cultures are taken over by "ascending" ones. So he writes:

"Assimilation of a DECLINING cultural/national identity by an ASCENDING cultural/national identity, for whatever reasons for both, is hardly a form of imperialism."

In "naturalizing" the original huge Muslim conquests on this basis, Omar reveals that despite his occasional left-wing rhetoric, he has nothing against imperialism--as long as it is Muslims who are conquering.

We're never going to let him forget it. He's been caught.


N. Friedman - 12/21/2008

Omar,

And, what culture do you have in mind?


omar ibrahim baker - 12/21/2008

That sick minds should stick to their own sick, and totally unrelated, extrapolations of other's words is usually aggravated by consoling themselves with imaginary achievements.
In the case of the Professor it is, though, more of a cultural than a personal sickness .


N. Friedman - 12/20/2008

Omar,

Read the title of the article in issue, which is How Islamists Use the Crusades. That has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with imperial behavior, a form of behavior you rationalize as being appropriate, so long as the perpetrator is Muslim.


art eckstein - 12/20/2008

You can't masquerade as an "anti-imperialist" anymore, Omar, employing your "anti-imperialist rhetoric" like the stuff above--because this week and last week you've been CAUGHT OUT for what you are:

1. You are an Arab/Muslim imperialist (established this week)
2. Who intentionally uses tainted anti-semitic sources (established last week)

Case closed.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/20/2008

Mr Friedman
It seems you are NOT aware of the title of the sub thread namely "A happy Coincidence", nor of Mr Hamilton's post.
Will we hear, read that is, from you re Mr Burg?
However the most important point is that neither you nor is the side kick for the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Paletinian people in their own homeland!


N. Friedman - 12/20/2008

Professor,

You are quite right. Omar's comment was completely off the topic of this page.


art eckstein - 12/20/2008

Having lost the argument that Omar is a Muslim imperialist, he seeks to change the subject. None of what he has to say has anything to do with the topic of this thread, which is Muslim imperialism and the counterattack that constituted the Crusades. Having been shown to be a Muslim imperialist, Omar switches to just more anti-Israel (and anti-Jewish) venom.

His solution by the way consists of more Muslim imperialism in which the Jews are reduced to their "natural" condition of dhimmis in their own homeland.

No one should have responded to his latest addition of poison.


N. Friedman - 12/20/2008

Omar,

How can you be so sure? I think that Benny Morris, the historian, sees two alternatives that differ from yours. One. A mostly Jewish country. Two. An entirely Arab country.

A Jewish country has no need to get along with the Arab nations which, for the immediate future and possibly beyond, are headed towards a dark age due to the barbarism that is a growing phenomena. Moreover, when the oil runs out, the ability of Arab nations to influence the world will come to an end unless Arab nations adopt modernity, in which case the obsession with Israel will come to an end. Either way, Arab nations will not be able to do a thing about Israel.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/20/2008

Mr Hamilton
Israel ultimately has two and only two options:
1-Perennial estrangement ,regional alienation, to lead to fortress Israel in a constant state of conflict with its environment leading , sporadically, to out right wars
OR
2-A historical reconcilliation with the Palestinians, and its environment, that recognizes their inalienable rights in their homland.
Burg is heading that way as is implicit in the NY Times article.


N. Friedman - 12/20/2008

Omar,

I join every word said above by Professor Eckstein.


N. Friedman - 12/20/2008

Mr. Hamilton,

I am committed to only one country, the US. I was born here, as were my parents and, on one side, their parents and their grandparents and have every intention of staying in the US - the world's greatest country.

It is for the Israelis to make their country what they want it to be. However, I do enough care about Israel not to want to see it defamed by propagandists and barbarism defenders like Omar.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/20/2008

It might be well and truly said that the three greatest dangers to Israelis are an Arab with a bomb, an American with a plan, and a Jew with dual citizenship.

From the NY Times article: "He is co-owner of a company that takes over failing businesses and rebuilds them for sale, has published two best-selling books and is a long-distance runner. He travels frequently and added a French passport to his Israeli one, a benefit of his wife’s origin." Does he think he can "rebuild Israel for sale" now? Why not -- he has a passport, an escape.

The funny thing is that Burg has made himself the absolute stereotype that the Arabs use to justified their violence: "son of a monkey", with no permanent home, one who swings from tree (nation) to tree.

One of the best things that America could do for Israel is to do what the Arabs did to the Palestinians: Accept no Jewish refugees from Israel in the case of its destruction. Such a message might focus the Jewish mind on matters the view of which the extra passport fogs.

But as I've said before, I don't think the Zionist project can ever succeed with only one-third participation by Jews. It must be closer to 90 percent. When I hear Jews in America say "We are committed to Israel's survival", I think of that old rural American analogy of the distinction: "In a breakfast of ham and eggs, the chicken is 'involved', but the pig is 'committed'". So, no, one cannot be a Jew in America, or an Israeli with a foreign passport, and say that one is "committed to Israel's survival". Involved, at best, but not committed.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/20/2008

The whole conflict boils down to the demands and dictates of a racist , aggressive doctrine: Zionism.
It is indeed a happy, portentous ?,ominous ?, coincidence that the NY Times has today an extremely telling article about a conscientious Jew who saw , before many others, the impasse Jews are driving themselves, and are being driven, into by Zionism .
The article is at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/20/world/middleeast/20burg.html?ref=middleeast.

It is about Avraham Burg whose name I earlier misspelled in one of my posts above!
(Will Avraham Burg be accused of anti Semitism by the herd? Let us wait and see for nothing is really beyond them!)


art eckstein - 12/20/2008

1. As with many imperialists, Omar pretends he is merely describing a "natural" and centuries old process.

2. But what is "natural" here is, according to him, is the conquest and absorption of "declining" cultures by "ascending" cultures.

3. And the EXAMPLE Omar has placed front and center of this "natural" process by which "declining" cultures are conquered by "ascending" cultures is the vast and violent Arab Muslim conquest of the Middle East ca. 640 A.D., and the absorption (read: destruction) of the non-Muslim indigenous cultures in those regions.

4. This is the event that Omar makes merely into a natural and centuries-old process--the "ascending" naturally take over those who are "declining." Thus, Omar provides not a description of what occurred (because it is inaccurate) but a JUSTIFICATION for what occurred, a justification for violent, military Arab Muslim imperialism, followed by imperial rule.

5. It is a justification of Arab Muslim imperialism by means of the "naturalizing" instead of "problematizing" of these vast and violent conquests--after all, these cultures were "in decline", the Arab culture was "in the ascendant", so it was all "natural." This is the CLASSIC justification of imperialism from the imperialist side: "Our conquests are only natural, and it's for their own good, they were in decline anyway."

6. This is an argument right out of the vocabulary of propaganda-weapons of the 19th century imperialists to justify their own violent actions. This is Kipling's position in "The White Man's Burden"!

7. And what evidence does Omar offer that these indigenous non-Muslim cultures were in some sort of natural "decline""? Absolutely none!

8. Except of course that the Muslims defeated them militarily and took them over and eventually pressured their populations to convert to Islam (thereby no doubt proving in another way the "superiority" of Islam). But that argument--"we won, therefore they were in decine"--is AGAIN the argument used by 19th century European imperialists, e.g., to explain the French conquest of Muslim Algeria, Tunisia and Morroco, and the British conquest of Muslim Egypt and the Sudan.

9. Omar, no doubt, will somehow fail to see the parallel, though it is an exact parallel indeed. He will deny the undeniable. (It's one of his methods of "argument".)

10. In any case, the idea that the indigenous non-Muslim cultures were "declining" is itself historically FALSE. Omar speaks here out of his profound ignorance on this topic, and his prejudice. Before he talks about the condition of the non-Muslim indigenous cultures, he needs to read, e.g., Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity. (Not that he will.)

11. The conclusion is obvious: Omar has nothing against imperialism per se, as a process--he sees this as merely a natural process of the "ascendant" over the "declining"--as long as it is the MUSLIMS who are doing the conquering. Then everything makes sense to him. And he has justified that process repeatedly on this blog by calling the process of 7th century Muslim expansion and conquest only "natural"--the "ascendant" over those "in decline". But if it is the Europeans, or even worse the Israelis who are doing the conquering, then we can be sure that this is an abomination to Omar. But it's not "imperialism" that's the abomination. It's that the wrong people, the unworthy, are doing it.

12. The term for Omar's position is as Friedman has already said: hypcrisy.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/20/2008

Nor need I change any word of my position as is in my own words NOT as maliciously and groundlessly extrapolated by the herd in a manner to disfigure it as an attempt to "defend" and/or "justify" anything !

My position through out being:
" Neither an attempt at justification of anything nor defending anything.
Simply an attempt to describe, analyze, not justify since none is called for, the mechanics of a centuries old historical process whose results/outputs are still with us, and will be for many generations to come.
History does not lend itself to justification; interpretation(s) may be, since several can present themselves BUT justification NO WAY"
(Uncontrollabe Frenzy! (#130208)
by omar ibrahim baker on December 18, 2008 at 2:09 PM )

However that my words were consciously and deliberately maliciously extrapolated, and not for the first time, by the herd is only to be expected since with the distortionists all is PR and every /any ruse to silence opposition
is acceptable.


art eckstein - 12/20/2008

Nice phrase there at the end, RRH!

AE


R.R. Hamilton - 12/19/2008

I agree with Prof. Eckstein, above. Your last paragraph does tie, in at least the "religiously-inspired" sense, the do-gooderism that engendered "White Man's Burden" imperialism of 100 years ago with the Islamic imperialism today. I think you should differentiate, however, between the bleeding-hearts that led the former with the bleeding-daggers that lead the latter.


N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Art,

No truer words have been said than your comment to Omar that "Omar--you are never going to be able to live down the position you have taken on this thread!"

Indeed.


A. M. Eckstein - 12/19/2008

Yes, Omar's position is BS, but what is more important is that it reveals Omar as a supporter and justifier of imperialism, as long as it is Muslims who are doing the conquering.

Omar is thus a classic and instinctive representative of what Bernard Lewis says below:

"For Muslims, the offense of imperialism is not--as for Western critics-- the domination by one people over another, but rather the allocation of roles in this relationship. What is truly evil and unacceptable is the domination of infidels over true believers. For true believers to rule misbelievers is proper and natural, since this provides for the maintenance of the holy law, and gives the misbelievers both the opportunity and the incentive to embrace the true faith.

But for misbelievers to rule over true believers is blasphemous and unnatural, since it leads to the corruption of religion and morality in society, and to the flouting or even the abandoning of God's law."

Omar--you are never going to be able to live down the position you have taken on this thread!


N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Omar,

I understood you rather clearly. It leaves Jews no different from where it leaves the French, the Indian, the Chinese, all of whom have people living abroad. I see no serious issue.

In any event, the main point here is that your position amounts to support for imperialism, since you believe in the wars that forced Islamic rule on people you see as culturally and nationally descendant due your belief that Islamic conquerors were culturally and nationally ascendant, while fooling yourself into thinking that such is just the natural orders of things. To me, that is BS.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/19/2008

Mr Friedman
You pretend that your statement” Jews are an ascending culture and nationality ” is SOLELY about culture.

It was actually also about Jews as "an ascending NATIONALITY" which led to the question "Where does that leave non Israeli Jews ?".
That statement was part of your post under discussion hence any reference to it is NOT "irrelevant"!
The question still stands: the loyalties and priorities of non Israeli Jews whose "nationality" is Jewish!


N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Omar,

You write: Where does your contention, Mr. Friedman, of ” Jews are an ascending culture and nationality ” leave non Israeli Jews ?
Dual nationality: dual allegiances, dual loyalties, dual priorities?
But that is bound to eventually end by one suppressing the other, prioritizing one over the other!”


Your point is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with my argument. Jews can be ascendant everywhere but they have established a nation only in Israel. In that regard, Jews outside of Israel are no different from other ascendant peoples such as the French, of whom there are quite a few living in the US.

In any event, your point has nothing to do with the argument at hand.

Likewise, your argument about Shahak's views... If the argument you have has nothing to do with Judaism and Jews qua Jews, what possible difference does it make whether he is correct or not, since in fact, Jews do treat non-Jews including terrorist barbarians who try to kill Jews? In fact, Omar, I do not believe you. I think your MO involves making Jews into villains.

And, surely, the Muslim Brotherhood made Jews into villains long before they cared about Zionism. How do you explain that?

Again, Omar, stop the BS.


art eckstein - 12/19/2008

1. Shahak has been repeatedly shown to be a totally untrustworthy source,a tainted source, a source of anti-semitic propaganda. This has been shown by N.F. and myself, chapter and verse; the latest time was last week, with Shahak's slander of Jewish doctors. That Omar insists on employing this tainted, untrustworthy, lying and anti-semitic source is an indication of the level of his intellectual degradation.

2. Omar has been arguing here on this thread that it is only natural that "ascending" nations and cultures absorb and assimilate "declining" ones. This is a classic imperialist justification, used repeatedly by 19th century Europeans, people Omar despises. He uses this classic imperialist justification here in order to deny that Muslim imperialism was imperialism, since the Christian cultures it conquered militarily were (allegedly) "in decline", and so their absorption was natural, not imperialistic.

THAT is a classic imperialist rant. The reality is that Omar is happy enough with imperialism as long as it is Muslims who are doing it, and he happily provides the sleaziest of justifications for the procedure.


3. Omar, in short, is a perfect exemplar of the following phenomenon:

"For Muslims, the offense of imperialism is not--as for Western critics-- the domination by one people over another, but rather the allocation of roles in this relationship. What is truly evil and unacceptable is the domination of
infidels over true believers. For ture believers to rule misbelievers is proper and natural, since this provides for the maintenance of the holy law, and gives the misbelievers both the opportunity and the incentive to embrace the true faith.

But for misbelievers to rule over true believers is blasphemous and unnatural, since it leads to the corruption of religion and morality in society, and to the flouting or even the abandoning of God's law.

This may help us understand the
current troubles in Indian Kashmir, Chinese Sinkiang--places where Muslim
populations are ruled by non-Muslim governments.

It may also explain why spokesmen for the new Muslim minorities in Europe
demand for Islam a degree of legal protection which those countries no longer give to Christianity and have never given to Judaism. Nor, of course, did the governments of the countries of origin of these Muslim immigrant spokesmen ever accord such protection to religions OTHER than Islam.

But in their perception, there is no contradiction in these attitudes. The true faith, based on God's final revelation, must be protected from insult and abuse; other faiths,
being false or incomplete, have no right to any such protection."

Bernard Lewis, "The Roots of Muslim Rage", 1990. (Note the date!)


omar ibrahim baker - 12/19/2008

Mr Friedman
1-I am happy to see you back pedal and retract , though neither graciously nor convincingly, from your words and hypothesis of equating “culture” with achievements in “the sciences(including, for example, medicine, physics and chemistry) ” , for which I, not you, used the term “technology” for brevity …….although your statement that reads is unequivocal :
“1. Such position leaves you having to defend Israel, a nation you despise. This is because, quite clearly, Jews are an ascending culture and nationality. As evidence, I mentioned the fact that, since the time that Nobel Prizes have been awarded, approximately 20% of all prizes in the sciences (including, for example, medicine, physics and chemistry) have been awarded to Jews.”

2-Re your repeated false charge of alleged Arab and Moslem “anti Semitism”: we have been over this before and I appreciate the fact that you cannot let go of that “begging bowl” despite the fact that it has been universally disclosed and unveiled as a cheap ruse to solicit support for and silence critics of the vile racist doctrine Zionism.
Your repeated reference to and “condemnation” of my keen interest in the erudite and honourable Jewish scholar , the late Israel Shahak, is quite interesting and revealing. The man and his oeuvre seems to frighten you which is the more reason to read him.
However once again I contend that reading Israel Shahak is necessary reading for a better understanding of the conflict and its underlying, both conscious and sub conscious, roots!
I guess the only way for others to make up their minds for themselves about Shahak is for them to read him.
His book is available at: http://www.geocities.com/israel_shahak/book1.htm.

3-I note with great interest that you assiduously avoid any mention of or reference to your own statement about ” Jews are an ascending culture and nationality ” and my comment/query thereon. I will repost it hereunder hoping to hear from you about it:
“An aside:
Where does your contention, Mr. Friedman, of ” Jews are an ascending culture and nationality ” leave non Israeli Jews ?
Dual nationality: dual allegiances, dual loyalties, dual priorities?
But that is bound to eventually end by one suppressing the other, prioritizing one over the other!”


N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Omar,

You have changed my arguments into arguments I did not present. That makes for interesting reading but it does not undermine my arguments.

You object to my first argument by stating:

a-For one thing you equate "culture" with material "sciences", technology, which is patently false and only self serving.

I made no argument that equates material science, science and/or technology with culture. I used the word evidence, as in high scientific achievement is evidence of an ascending culture. I wrote, to be precise: "As evidence, I mentioned the fact that, since the time that Nobel Prizes have been awarded, approximately 20% of all prizes in the sciences (including, for example, medicine, physics and chemistry) have been awarded to Jews."

You also assert: For another "technological" superiority was never a guarantor of ulterior "success", triumph, in inter cultural conflicts.

Again, I made no such claim. I did not claim that technological superiority guarantees anything. To take it a step further, I think the theory that cultural superiority guarantees success is a stupid theory. Moreover, I think that the theory that cultural superiority negates imperialism is a stupid theory.

You, in any event, present a number of examples in which technically superior nations were defeated. I never claimed that technological superiority always or even usually triumphs.

My argument concerned your assertion regarding the connection between culture and imperialism in which you claimed that Muslim imperialism is not imperialism because it involves a culturally and nationally superior force. I noted, in reply, that the Israelis are arguably culturally and nationally superior and I mentioned Jewish scientific achievements as a marker.

You make a second argument, writing: b-you presume that the "clash", the confrontation ,in the Middle East is with the JEWS.

On this point, I presume that the war against Israel includes - although it is not limited to - a war by Muslims against Jews qua Jews and not qua Zionists. I take that to be the case because it is the unequivocally the case for Islamists, unless their writings are simply lies. Moreover, the Hamas Covenant - and remember that the dominant political group among Palestinian Arabs, at least to go by the most recent election, is the Hamas - indicates that the war is a war against Jews and not just against Zionists. To quote from that appalling Covenant:

This Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), clarifies its picture, reveals its identity, outlines its stand, explains its aims, speaks about its hopes, and calls for its support, adoption and joining its ranks. Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised.

Moreover, according to the Covenant:

We should not forget to remind every Moslem that when the Jews conquered the Holy City in 1967, they stood on the threshold of the Aqsa Mosque and proclaimed that "Mohammed is dead, and his descendants are all women."

Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people. "May the cowards never sleep."


Sure sounds like the Hamas thinks there is a fight with Jews and Judaism and not merely with Zionists.

Then, there is you, Omar. If, in fact, your fight is not with Jews and Judaism but only with Zionists and Zionism, why would you resort to quoting the Antisemite Shahak in his rants against Jews and Judaism? Why is that argument important to you, Omar, if you have no fight with Jews qua Jews?

In any event, the writings of Islamists drip venomously with Antisemitism. Jews are said to have irredeemable and eternal attributes. And, the use by Islamists of these assertions long pre-dates Israel and any reasonable belief that Zionists would succeed in forging a nation. The Brotherhood began in Egypt, as you may possibly know. From the beginning, the Brotherhood complained that Jews were responsible, for example, for destroying the Caliphate. Such writings were used to foster violence against Jews - not Zionists - in Egypt!!! Source: Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, passim, by Matthias Küntzel. Moreover, the leader of Palestinian Arabs before Israel's creation, namely, the Grand Mufti Amin al-Hussein, wrote that Germany is "the only country in the world that has not merely fought the Jews at home but have declared war on the entirety of world Jewry; in this war against world Jewry, the Arabs feel profoundly connected to Germany." This quote was found by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers from their book Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das "Dritte Reich", die Araber und Palästina ("Crescent Moon and Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine") but my source for it is Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (page 176), by Bernard-Henri Lévy. So, even the Grand Mufti's fight was against Jews throughout the world, not merely Zionists. And, to recall, prior to the end of WWII, support of Zionism was not the dominant position among the world's Jews.

[As an aside: I should note that Hezbollah, a group which you highly esteem - to go by your prior posts -, is led by Hassan Nasrallah who has said: "If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide. Source: The Daily Star (Lebanon), Oct. 23, 2002.]

You assert that there are Jews who side against Israel, as if that were evidence for your proposition about whom Muslims oppose. I recall that Daniel Pearl, the reporter who was killed, believed in helping Muslims. Which is to say Islamists have a fight with Jews, as the Muslim Brotherhood has said for generations and as Islamist groups all say.

You argue next that I fail to appreciate "the eternal human urge in normal human beings to resist aggression to repulse aggressors to defend one's homeland." No. I appreciate that fully. It, however, has nothing to do with the arguments I presented.

You then attack my second argument. My position is about imperialism and what that terminology means. My contention is that your argument, namely, that a war by culturally and nationally ascendant groups against declining groups is not imperialism, merely states a traditional argument presented by imperialist to justify to their own their imperial behavior.

Note: You have not addressed either of my arguments.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/19/2008

Mr Friedman
1-Re your (1)in (Re: Uncontrollabe Frenzy! (#130219)

Despite the fact that no "defense", nor "justification" was made or meant despite that your claim of "JEWS" as an ascending "culture and nationality" and ,by implication ,that Arabs /Moslems are "in decline", both your claim and conclusion there from that we should accept ,"having to defend", Israel are intrinsically objectively false and more the stuff of wishful thinking and day dreaming than cold reasoning!
a-For one thing you equate "culture" with material "sciences", technology, which is patently false and only self serving.
“Technological superiority”, a transient phenomenon subject to change and adjustment, is NOT "culture"; a "culture" encompasses much more than that and goes far beyond that!(No further amplification called for here! OK?)
For another "technological" superiority was never a guarantor of ulterior "success", triumph, in inter cultural conflicts. Witness:
-The British in India
-The French in Algeria
-The Americans in Indo China
AND
-The whites in South Africa (a case much more parallel and pertinent to the conflict in the Middle East where the naked racism of ALIENS confronted an indigenous population.)
For another
b-you presume that the "clash", the confrontation ,in the Middle East is with the JEWS.
That is an equally false contention and a conscious , deliberate, misrepresentation of the situation.
The clash is with ALIEN ZIONISTS COLONS intent on establishing a racially based outpost for themselves !
It is NOT with the JEWS though ,unfortunately for Jews, most of them seem to subscribe to your contention.
There is absolutely no grounds for a quarrel with Jews per se when we recall, inter alia, that Israel Shahak, Elmer Burger, Alfred Lilienthall, Noam Chomsky, Professor Finklestein etc etc and the other hundreds of thousands, that we can not name, are all Jews.
Even many of those same Jews who started with your own biases and racist/colonialist outlook ended by drastically reconsidering their rationale and outlook.
Do you remember the case of Abraham (?) Bourg , the ex speaker of the Knesset , the physical and spiritual son of an ultra Orthodox JEW, where he started and where he ended ?
In many ways I guess his, Bourg’s, progress is indicative of many things.
One can also name Olmert, but he is a much smaller fish though a telling fish having started as a Likudnick.
c-You still fail to understand the primacy of the eternal human urge in normal human beings to resist aggression to repulse aggressors to defend one's homeland, one's community, society, family, self and one's culture and heritage!(That failure is a serious personal defect.)

2-Re your (2):
Your conclusion is borne out from your conscious, or is it rather your subconscious ?, insistence on reading my words as a "defense" or a "justification" where none is meant NOR called for.
History can NOT be the subject of a Defense and/ or Justification.
It could be, though, and should be I contend, the subject of "interpretation(s)" i.e. the identification of the factors and their interactions that led a certain process to a certain conclusion!
That IS History: diverse factors at work leading to a certain output!
Your depiction of my outlook to the issue as a defense of "Islamic imperialism" and as such is
"Hypocrisy" is the sick extrapolation of a sick mind.
It is basically an inevitable outpouring of the deep, subconsciously embedded, conscious realization of the huge moral and spiritual gulf that separates the colour free , race free , ethnicity and blood free , culture based, foundation of both Arabism and Islam from the vile ethnicity based, race based and blood based doctrine it confronts in the Middle East.
--------------------
An aside:
Where does your contention, Mr. Friedman, of ” Jews are an ascending culture and nationality ” leave non Israeli Jews ?
Dual nationality: dual allegiances, dual loyalties, dual priorities?
But that is bound to eventually end by one suppressing the other, prioritizing one over the other!
-----------------------------------


N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Art,

As always, thank you.


art eckstein - 12/19/2008

Dear N.F.,

Your last paragraph above hits the nail right on the head.



N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Art and RRH,

I conducted the search "white man's burden" imperialism on Google. It came back with about 44,500 webpages. That alone justifies my use of the phrase, at least on the theory behind the 9th edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

Incidentally, among the webpages are an article in The New York Times by columnist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman. His article discusses a "whiff of imperial ambition in the air" including the "regime change" doctrine. Whether Krugman's assessment is correct, my association between the white man's burden and empire is not out of line.

I should add that a search on "white man's burden" empire uncovered about 57,200 webpages.

So, my use of the phrase, whether or not an accurate representation of Kipling's use, is not uncommon and was perfectly intelligible. Which is to say, it was understood by both of you even if one of you, Mr. Hamilton, thought I might have used a different phrase.

In any event, I could have made the same point by saying that Omar's cultural and national ascendants were bringing real civilization to the world. That is premised on the view that he seemingly believes - as expressed on other hnn pages -, namely, that Islam is the universal religion and civilization. In my view, imperialism imbued with religious symbolism and religious fanaticism so as to appear to the believer as merely involving the spread of civilization - the bringing of an ascendant culture to those less fortunate - is a very dangerous form of imperialism.


art eckstein - 12/19/2008

1. Okay, yes, RRH--we are off the topic, so let's drop it.

2. I don't have a problem with NF using Kipling's poem satirically against Omar, because on the one hand Omar hates 19th c imperiallism, while on the other his position re the Christian victims of Muslim imperialism in the 7th century is similar to that of the (surface) meaning of Kipling's poem.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/19/2008

You've made an argument for the view that Kipling was a classic imperialist, but hardly a dispositive one, in my view. Certainly not one that, on the basis of a few passages in letters, one could say without doubt, as you do, that Kipling's poem could not have been other that a reflection of his sincerely held views.

I could take the same passages and follow them to a different conclusion. (I won't, only because this is so far off-topic.)

Moreover, I think a study of the Muslim imperialism of the 7th (or 17th or 21st) century does not flow from the same humanitarian wellspring -- "Let's use our power to end (then) slavery and bride-burning and (now) AIDS and ethnic-cleansing in the 3rd World!" -- as Victorian-era Western imperialism. Therefore, I think Mr. Friedman should use a different comparison.


N. Friedman - 12/19/2008

Mr. Hamilton,

Indeed, in the very early years of Islamic rule, the rulers likely did not want converts and this was most likely due to the fact that such would mean a fall in revenue. There was also the point that they likely understood Islam more as an Arab religion and less as a universal religion. The universalizing aspect of course arose eventually.


N. Friedman - 12/18/2008

Omar,

I have made two assertions against your position below quoted:

"Assimilation of a declining cultural/national identity by an ascending cultural/national identity, for whatever reasons for both, is hardly a form of imperialism since the assimilated cultural/national identity remerges into, as a constituent part of, the resultant comprehensive cultural/national identity."

1. Such position leaves you having to defend Israel, a nation you despise. This is because, quite clearly, Jews are an ascending culture and nationality. As evidence, I mentioned the fact that, since the time that Nobel Prizes have been awarded, approximately 20% of all prizes in the sciences (including, for example, medicine, physics and chemistry) have been awarded to Jews.

2. I have noted that the ascendant culture and nationality position is identical to the "White Man's Burden" ideology typically called imperialism. In other words, you are playing games with words.

Omar has yet to respond to either argument. Frankly, there is no satisfactory response available because, in fact, Omar's position favors imperialism by Muslims but does not want imperialism to be called "imperialism." Hence, the conquests he likes are those where the conquered merge into the the conqueror's culture, removing all that remains of that culture.

In other words, Omar's position can be labeled with the word "hypocrisy."


omar ibrahim baker - 12/18/2008

"That, the contrast between culture based and race/blood based , seems to hurt really Bad to the point of uncontrollable frenzy....
understandable! "
Eckstein, the "me too side kick" might and Might NOT comprehend many things ....still it hurts because in this case he knows that he relates to it!


R.R. Hamilton - 12/18/2008

This is a time when the words of my undergraduate history professor -- now professor emeritus -- Lewis Gould ring harshly in my ears: "A law school education sharpens the mind like a pencil: To a very fine but very narrow point." One example is that lawyers may not say what they mean, but they say what they mean to say -- and, when such is read or heard by another lawyer, nothing more will be inferred. (That line may require a few readings.)

As an example, when I say, "I do not agree" or "I cannot agree", that does not mean the same thing as, "I disagree" or "I refuse to agree". It simply means, "At this time, for any number of reasons (including my failure to have given the issue serious consideration), I do not agree." Therefore, my earlier failure to agree with Mr. Baker on the "decline" of Eastern Christendom should not be inferred to mean that I disagree. I simply haven't researched the subject sufficiently to have formed a definite opinion.

If I haven't aggravated the reader enough, here's more:

I think I understand very well what Mr. Baker is saying here: That Islam transcends all other loyalities -- national, religious, racial, etc. I have heard similar things said by others in the past. I cannot say he is right or wrong (therefore I do not agree with him).

Regarding Omar and Israel, I think there exists something that I will call "Israel Derangement Syndrome" that seems to affect every Muslim I know. No matter how rationally they may seem to be on other matters, when it comes to Israel, they just become ... unhinged.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

One needs to read the poem “The White Man’s Burden" alongside Kipling's letter of 18 August 1898, to the American George Cram Cook. At the time of Kipling’s letter, Cook, a professor of English, was stationed at Camp Cuba Libra in Florida, as a member of the 50th Iowa Volunteers. Welcoming America to the world of adult responsibility among the developed nations, Kipling writes of :

‘...the White Man’s work, the business of introducing a sane and orderly administration to the dark places of the earth that lie to your hand.’

This is the imperialism to which Kipling also wanted to convert Andrew Carnegie, as he told the steel magnate in a letter of 25 June 1899,which can be found in Thomas Pinney ed., Letters, vol 2. It is fair to say that it was the vision of enabling orderly development based on economic progress which inspired Kipling, See, e.g., Michael Brock, ‘“Outside his Art”, Rudyard Kipling in Politics’, Michael Brock, Kipling Journal March 1988.)

As Kipling represents it, however, the call of Empire is a humanitarian one. Moreover, the fact that in at the time, both in Britain and the U.S., the phrase 'white man' was current as a term of commendation, meaning straight or decent. Kipling himself made use of it in this sense in the letter of 20 June 1900 to John St Loe Strachey. [Thomas Pinney, ed., Letters Vol 3].

Note that Kipling's letters to Cook, Carnegie and Strachey all come from precisely the time that he was composing "The White Man's Burden."

RRH, one might well wish the poem were ironic--but it isn't.

And this is why the phrase fits Omar's imperialist rant about "ascending cultures" naturally taking over "declining cultures" as a defense of Muslim imperialism in the 7th Century A.D. This is classic "White Man's Burden (in this case, Muslim Man's Burden) thinking.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

RRH, that's very debatable. Some scholars see it your way (though "Recessional" fits that motif much better), but the poem is most often analyzed by scholars as a call by elder brother Britain for the U.S. to "civilize" the Philippines.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/18/2008

I'm not sure what you're comparing here. I assume you know that Kipling's famous poem about "the white man's burden" was written as a satire on the imperialist do-gooderism of the 19th and early 20th century.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

I'm amazed that Omar would dare to come back to the scene of embarrassment, but he has: "Uncontrollable Frenzy!" is a good description of Omar.

Now HERE, reader, is what he wrote (Dec. 17, at 10:58 a.m.):

"Assimilation of a declining cultural/national identity by an ascending cultural/national identity, for whatever reasons for both, is hardly a form of imperialism since the assimilated cultural/national identity remerges into, as a constituent part of, the resultant comprehensive cultural/national identity."

That is, Omar is claiming that the Islamic conquests of the 7th century were not imperialism but merely the assimilation of a "declining" culture (eastern Mediterranean Christendom) by an "ascending" culture (Islam).

This is, as N.F. says, Omar's Islamic version of the "White Man's Burden". He is claiming that Muslim military conquest isn't imperialism because it is, instead, the natural takeover of a "declining" culture by an "ascending" culture.

In this case, by "declining" culture Omar means the flourishing Christendom of the eastern Mediterranean in ca. 630 A.D. So Omar is not only enunciating a dangerous principle, a very typical imperialist rant-- he's also wrong (surprise!) on the actual historical situation.

BTW, readers, the reference in Omar's entry above to outrage at the mentioning a "name', has to do with Omar'sintellectually-corrupt dependency on the anti-semitic slanders of Israel Shahak, a source who has been proven dead wrong again and again on this very blog, but whom Omar persists on employing in debate because Shahak says what Omar wants about evil Jews, including (recently) totally false accusations about Jewish doctors and non-Jewish patients. Omar considers the justifiable heavy criticism leveled against him by N.F. and myself for his employment of a completely tainted source to be "censorship" (!!).


omar ibrahim baker - 12/18/2008

A frenzied sad reaction, mainly by the herd, triggered by a name !
Neither an attempt at justification of anything nor defending anything.
Simply an attempt to describe, analyze, not justify since none is called for, the mechanics of a centuries old historical process whose results/outputs are still with us, and will be for many generations to come.
History does not lend itself to justification; interpretation(s) may be, since several can present themselves BUT justification NO WAY!
Ideology may need justification , some very badly need it, but one is definitely hopelessly hopeless to justify since based on blood, race ,ethniciyty( ALL DNA verifiable !) particularly when confronted by an ideology, which both Arab nationalism and Islam happen to be, which discards , discounts and is totally free from colour, race, ethnicity and blood as the foundation of a national identity!
That, the contrast between culture based and race/blood based , seems to hurt really Bad to the point of uncontrollable frenzy....
understandable!


N. Friedman - 12/18/2008

Dear Art,

Omar does not do history. He does propaganda. And, his assertions about ascendant cultures is, surely, propaganda no different from "White man's burden."


N. Friedman - 12/18/2008

Professor,

Yours is a very interesting post from which I have learned a great deal. Thanks.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

I see your point now, RRH.



R.R. Hamilton - 12/18/2008

This would have been a good time to read more into what I said, but it's my fault. What I meant was:

This was in part caused by the fact that the Islamic system of taxation -- higher on non-Muslims -- provided for their Muslim rulers a financial deterrent to encouraging conversion.

Certainly you're correct that the higher taxes on non-Muslims would have had the opposite effect on the subjects of the system. I was referring to the system's masters.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

Okay, RRH--we're clear. I'm sorry if I read too much into what you wrote.

In any case, it's not so important if we misunderstood each other, because that is easily cleared up. What's important for the thread here is the historic truth that 7th century eastern Mediterranean Christendom was NOT in a condition of economic or cultural "decline" when the Muslims appeared as violent conquerors out of the deserts. That is Omar's assertion, and it is wrong.

best,

AE

P.S. I'm a bit unclear about what you mean by the taxation business, RRH. The usual scholarly position is that the higher rate of taxation imposed by Muslim governments on non-Muslims encouraged conversion to Islam (not acted as a deterrent to it). Isn't that what you meant to say?


R.R. Hamilton - 12/18/2008

You read too much into what I wrote. What I wrote was:

You should note that many (most?) Jews in the conquered regions of the former Eastern Roman Empire converted to Islam along with the Christians.

And I must agree with Mr. Baker on the subject of "ascending" and "declining" cultures.


What you seem to have read was:

You should note that many (most?) Jews in the conquered regions of the former Eastern Roman Empire converted to Islam along with the Christians very soon after the Arab Conquest.

And I must agree with Mr. Baker on the subject of "ascending" and "declining" cultures and that an application of his methodology would accurately describe the cultures of the 7th century Near East.


To the first point, on the contrary, I think you and I have agreed (perhaps you've forgotten) that the conversion rate to Islam of the conquered peoples was quite slow. This was in part caused by the fact that the Islamic system of taxation -- higher on non-Muslims -- provided a financial deterrent to encouraging conversion. My real point was to say that Jews converted at about the same (slow) rate that Christians did. I'm sure some converted out of conviction while others converted for the advantages, financial and otherwise, of an Islamic identity.

As to the second point, I agree with Mr. Baker that at any given time some cultures are in "ascendancy" while others are in "decline" (and still others are in "equipoise"). I never said, or meant to imply, that the societies subjected to the Arab Conquest were in "decline".

I hope this straightens out any confusion.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

RRH, here is what you wrote in #130163:

Re: Notes about a flawed book (#130163)
by R.R. Hamilton on December 17, 2008 at 11:47 AM


Mr. Eckstein,

"You should note that many (most?) Jews in the conquered regions of the former Eastern Roman Empire converted to Islam along with the Christians.

And I must agree with Mr. Baker on the subject of "ascending" and "declining" cultures."

That last sentence is what I was reacting to. You see it?

Now RRH, of course you then went on in that posting to make your own good (and/or amusing) points against Omar. But essentially you were agreeing with Omar's premise on the "decline" situation in general in eastern Christendom in the early 7th century, and I was saying that this appears in itself from recent scholarship to be an inaccurate analysis.

It's no big thing.

Except that Omar's imperialist rant about "ascending/declining" cultures would be a dangerous argument in any case (not least for himself--as you point out acutely in the very entry I cite)--that is, even if his basic analysis of the "declining" condition of early 7th century Christendom were correct. But in addition, the fact is that Omar's historical premise about early 7th century eastern Christendom is incorrect to begin with (surprise!), and so I didn't want to see you buying into it at any level.


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

I think you were agreeing with Omar that the 7th Century Christian eastern Mediterranean culture was somehow in "decline".

RRH, you are certainly correct about the military exhaustion, caused by the wars between Sassanid Persia and (east) Rome--a unique situation which the Muslims took advantage of in order to institute their conquests.

But to extend that problem to the entire culture seems now to be incorrect, and I thought you did that, thought you accepted Omar's "decline" model in general. But recent scholarship has emphasized that the cities of eastern Christendom were flourishing, not in decline (Miletus on the Aegean is a good example, Caesarea another good one), intellectual life was flourishing too (though much of it was involved with Christological controversies which SEEM arid to our taste), the commercial and agricultural economy was basically sound, artwork was good: all in all, this was NOT a general culture in "decline."

Omar uses that old "decline" model to justify Muslim conquest of eastern Christendom by an "ascendant" (Muslim-Arab) culture. As I have sought to emphasize, it is a dangerously shallow imperialist justification to urge that indigenous cultural "decline" justifies conquest from the outside--but in this specific case the idea of "decline" is itself also historically wrong.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/18/2008

Thanks, professor, but I'm still scratching my head over what were my "out of date views" of 7th century non-Muslim cultures of the eastern Mediterranean.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/18/2008

Prof. Eckstein says,

Dear RR,

While you are more rational than Omar, your view of the condition of early 7th century non-Muslim cultures in the eastern Mediterranean is as out of date as his is.

You are correct on the miitary exhaustion of both Byzantium and Persia, worn out by mutual wars by 630 A.D.--yes.


Aside from what I said about the "military exhaustion of both Byzantium and Persia, worn out by mutual wars by 630 A.D." -- which you acknowledge is correct, what the hell else have I said about "the condition of early 7th century non-Muslim cultures in the eastern Mediterranean (or anywhere else)"? I don't recall ever addressing the topic on which you say my views are out of date.

Can you find something I said -- aside from the "correct" stuff -- so I can know what you're talking about? If you can't find anything, go ahead and quote me again on the "correct stuff".


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

Yes, NF--Omar better realize the wider implications of his defense of Islamic imperialism based on the principle of an "ascending culture" (Muslim) rightly dominating a "culture in decine" (Christian, allegedly).

In that model Omar offers us HNN readers a classic imperialist rant--and the problem, as NF points out, is that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. That is: Omar's model can be easiy applied to OTHER situations, and they are situations which should make Omar very uncomfortable. That is, if he is intellectually honest [Okay, whom am I kidding?]. Nevertheless:

Let's apply his "ascending" vs. "decline" model to, say, the area that became the Palestine Mandate, ca. 1900.

Or let's apply the model to Jewish accomplishment intellectually vs. Arab accomplishment intellectually in the 20th century (as NF says).

Or let's apply it to the enormous economic and high-tech accomplishments of Israel, working with no natural resources and an immigrant population, almost half of which were traumatized Holocaust survivors, and almost half of which were penniless refugees expelled from Muslim lands after 1948. Yes, let's compare that accomplishment to the econ accomplishments of Egypt or Jordan or for that matter Iran even WITH the oil. Conclusion: WHO is it who should be administering the Middle East again?

[Again, I am making these comments not in seriousness but only to point out the intellectual emptiness and classic imperialist thinking of Omar's defense of Muslim imperial expansion.

Indeed, this makes twice in two threads, last week and this week, that Omar has made a fool of himself.]


art eckstein - 12/18/2008

Dear NF,

It is true enough that the local elites of most peoples under the Romans came to identify themselves as Romans: the Gauls are the best example.

Yet while they came to accept themselves as Romans, and were accepted that way by the Roman metropole, the Gallic nobility never condemned their own ancestors for resisting. They were able to engage in "double-think" in that respect.

This is also the case with the non-Roman Italic peoples and the Greeks of the Italian Peninsula as well. They became "Romans", but the past was not condemned. For instance, we have several important inscriptions in praise of the success of Etruscan warlords from the pre-Roman period: put up by their descendants, the inscriptions are not in Etruscan but (of course) in Latin (!). Even the Carthaginians produced an emperor in Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.). But Severus was proud of his Punic past, and probably he had a Carthaginian name as well as a Roman one (I guess his "real" name to some).

Similarly, with modern Indians: they use English as the lingua franca and have "naturalized" the use of British political structures without any problems, and the government and many many individuals have warm relations with the British, but they simultaneously remember and are proud of the resistance put up to British imperial expansion by their ancestors. "Doublethink" again.

So I think ONLY Muslim imperialism has had the ultimate success ideologically of creating "singlethink"-- making its subordinated peoples either forget the past (so that Sind has for most Sindians naturally and always been Muslim), or else to condemn to Hell those who resisted Islamic attack. Imperal "Magic" indeed, NF, as you say.

And you are right again, NF, on the following: the British certainly WOULD have loved to be able to do the same as the Muslims' total and appalling imperial ideological success. In fact Thomas Maccaulay, in his famous "Minute on Indian Education" (1836), laid out just such a program, to create "men who are Hindu in origin but completely British in culture, taste, language and ideas."

This project ironically failed precisely because it was paritally successful, and it failed for the reason that Maccaulay himself remarks upon in the "Minute": English was the gateway to the language of political freedom and human rights. Thus the more the Indians learned British ideas of freedom and human rights, the more they rebelled against British control.

But by contrast, Arabic is not the language of political freedom, is it-- nor of individual human rights, either. It is the language of totalitarian Religious Truth and submission. Hence those who were Islamicized did not go in the direction of individual freedom, but of individual total cultural submission. As I said, to the point where they condemned to Hell those who had, in the 9th-11th centuries A.D., defended India from Muslim attack.


N. Friedman - 12/18/2008

Thanks, Art, for your kind words.


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Here is a little story showing the rather astonishing assimilation of Hindi words into English. (Hindi words are in CAPITAL LETTERS)

I suppose Omar will now have to argue that this story shows that the oppressive Raj never existed!

"Returning to the BUNGALOW after her YOGA CLASS, Janet threw her CALICO handbag onto the TEAK table, and slipped on a pair of SANDALS. There was the tea-CADDY to fill, the CHUTNEY to prepare for the CURREY, and she had that special PEPPER too. The children were on the lake in a DINGHY, and their KHAKI DUNGAREES were sure to be wet. She needed a SHAMPOO, and she still had to mend Tom's PYJAMAS, and she still had to finish those CHINTZ hangings for the VERANDA. To heck with it! She put a SHAWL around her shoulders, and poured herself a PUNCH."

Conversely, of course, the lingua franca of India is ENGLISH, and its political forms are derived from BRITAIN, as is its tradition of freedom of speech--something totally foreign to Omar's world, for instance.

Do those cultural transformations indicate, too, that the oppressive Raj never existed?

In other words, Omar's furious backpedeling on his imperialist rant is just worthless froth.




art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Exactly right, RRH!

AE


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

No, Sir--Saladin KNEW it was a merchants caravan, going from south to north towards HIM (at Damascus and Aleppo), and so he informed Baldwin of Jerusalem in protest, and so the King tried to put pressure on Reynald to pay compensation for the trade goods, and Raynald refused and so the truce was broken.


If you have evidence that Saladin misinformed his armies and told them something else, namely that it was an attack on a pilgrim caravan going to Mecca (i.e., from north to south), please offer it to us.

Otherwise, you have to accept what the sources actually say.

Unlike Omar, you seem willing to do so! :)


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Dear RR,

While you are more rational than Omar, your view of the condition of early 7th century non-Muslim cultures in the eastern Mediterranean is as out of date as his is.

You are correct on the miitary exhaustion of both Byzantium and Persia, worn out by mutual wars by 630 A.D.--yes.

But Omar says "declining CULTURE" of the Christian eastern Mediterranean ca. 630 A.D. Now, UNLESS Omar is equating culture simply with military skill (in which case, as Friedman says, Omar would have to acknowledge that the Israelis are at a much higher and "ascending" cultural level than any other Arab group within 1,000 miles of them), then he is simply historically wrong.

As, I'm afraid, are you wrong about this aspect of the historic situation. To understand the vibrant world of 6th and 7th century eastern Mediterranean Christendom, read, to begin with, Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (1972/1989). It's a wonderful read--and it will enlighten you.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

I agree: Saladin was interested in the good of Saladin, not Arabs or Islam. He would've given Jerusalem back to Richard Lionheart if Richard hadn't left in a hurry to defend his possessions in France. As I've noted earlier, according to my research, the discovery that Jerusalem was somehow holy to Muslims seems to have occurred about 1947.


N. Friedman - 12/17/2008

Omar,

You write:Assimilation of a declining cultural/national identity by an ascending cultural/national identity, for whatever reasons for both, is hardly a form of imperialism since the assimilated cultural/national identity remerges into, as a constituent part of, the resultant comprehensive cultural/national identity.

In other words, you think there are good conquests and bad ones. It would seem to me that, by your interpretation, you should be very happy that Jews arrived in historic Palestine to bring forth an ascendant culture and nationality. After all, if we go by accomplishments during the 19th and 20th Century, Jews are truly ascendant. In this regard, note that Jews have won more or less about 20% of Nobel Prizes in the various sciences which truly suggests an ascendant culture.

Somehow, I bet that you will take the view that your rules of good conquests do not apply to Jews.


N. Friedman - 12/17/2008

Professor,

Well, I think your noted facts show just how successful Islam has been when used as an imperial ideology of conquest and colonization. Europeans would love to have had that magic influence during their period of imperial conquest.

While I have made no study of this, I have to assume that there are other examples of conquered peoples - or, to be more precise, their descendants - taking on the ideology and historical interpretation of the conqueror. It is my impression that, apart from Jews who resisted Roman ideology, most of the peoples who were conquered by Rome eventually saw the world through purely Roman eyes. Otherwise, how is it possible that the empire survived as long as it did after Constantinople replaced Rome as the main city of the empire?

I suspect, given your area of historical expertise, that you will show me that I am incorrect. In any event, I look forward to reading your considered opinion.


N. Friedman - 12/17/2008

Omar,

Indulge what?

I would note this. You have Saladin making war on behalf of Arabs, as if he could care less about them. You might read Professor Karsh's book in which he shows rather clearly that Saladin's actions were not to uphold the Arabs or Islam or anything of the sort.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

A reasonable guess, based on the evidence, is that the Muslim warriors were told, "Reynaud has attacked another caravan!" And it was left to their supposition to conclude that he had attacked yet another pilgrim caravan.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

The facts you presented differ almost not at all from the ones I presented, except in one detail: You say that, yes, Reynaud of Kerak had attacked pilgrims going to Mecca, but that the precipatory caravan attack was not made on Muslim pilgrims but on a "rich caravan".

First, do we know that Reynaud knew the caravan was not one of pilgrims? Second, do you really want us to believe that tens of thousands of Muslim warriors would risk their lives to avenge the theft of a rich man's treasure -- as opposed to ... oh, let's say, avenging the pillaging and murdering of many religious caravans and pilgrims?

Your "actual evidence" works better when allied with superior analysis.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

Eckstein
"(Understandably this bloodless, race less concept is very difficult to digest and far more difficult to accept by and for those brought up on a tradition of a blood,race/ethnicity
based concept of their own, presumed, common national identity. AND some of them contend that it is DNA verifiable!!!)"


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

I will fully agree with all of that, Mr. Baker.


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

On the contrary, Indian ideas and words were assimilated in India--only a few of them, of course. Just like with Christian ideas in the Islamic middle east.


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Hard to have the better of the argument, RR, when I have the better of the evidence...

But thanks for saying I play unfairly by presenting actual evidence. That was a nice thing to say.

best,

AE


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

Mr. Eckstein,

You should note that many (most?) Jews in the conquered regions of the former Eastern Roman Empire converted to Islam along with the Christians.

And I must agree with Mr. Baker on the subject of "ascending" and "declining" cultures. I would add a second dimension: "civilized" and "barbaric". Thus we may have cultures that are:

1. Ascending and civilized
2. Declining and civilized
3. Ascending and barbaric, and
4. Declining and barbaric.

The Arab Conquest occurred because of a massive fluke of history: The Persian and Eastern Roman Empires had just exhausted themselves in a 20-year war of epic proportions. The "ascending barbaric" culture of the Arabian nomads exploded on these "declining civilized" cultures of Persia and Byzantium at the critical -- but wholly accidental -- moment of history.

Arab culture is now "declining barbaric". European culture is "declining civilized". Only in America do we PERHAPS have a culture that is still "ascending civilized."


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

Mr Hamilton;
1- you claim :
"Mr. Baker,
First, you've made no headway against my contention that Turks in the 11th century (and 12th, and 13th, ... and 20th) viewed Arabs contemptuously." nor it is my desire and intention to make such a "head way"!
2-Rarely , if ever, does historical human behavior replicate the experience of others!
There is no such thing as a
"standard" human historical reaction.
History is NOT a chemistry lab where the same experiment can be replicated anywhere, any time to give the same results!
I believe we should agree about that...at least!


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

Given the ongoing financial and demographic horrors of the Muslim world, I think it would be best for them to contemplate national conversions to Christianity. (South Korea went from nearly no Christians to majority Christian in about 50 years, with the attendent economic and political development that the world has come to associate with Christianization -- especially the American variant.)

With the "ascendent culture", as Mr. Baker would say, of America now present amongst the "declining culture" of Islam in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time for the women of those lands to start teaching their surprisingly fair-eyed offspring songs like "Onward Christian Soldiers".


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

That should be: note the employment of the term "declining" by Omar.

As for minority/majority, which the embarassed Omar also proposes to substitute for "ascending"/"descending" cultures: the Muslims were the minority conquerors of these regions, until they gradually pressured most of the population (though not the majority in what had been Judaea) to convert from Christianity to Islam.


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Omar, in desperation to defend his imperial rant above about ascending Muslim culture rightly taking over "declining" Christian culture in the 7th century Middle East, now backpedals as far as he can and writes the following:

"Assimilation of a declining cultural/national identity by an ascending cultural/national identity, for whatever reasons for both, is hardly a form of imperialism since the assimilated cultural/national identity remerges into, as a constituent part of, the resultant comprehensive cultural/national identity."

I think this is what the Nazis intended to do with the areas they militarily conquered in western Europe, certainly the Austrians, and esp. the Danes and the Dutch, if not the French.

Or: look at all those buckskin fringed jackets that Americans wear, or all those parkas! Such couture shows we whites didn't really conquer and destroy indigenous cultures so much as allow them to contribute their part to our current multicultural America!

Omar's statement is a typically bogus cover-story for what is imperial destruction of cultures viewed as inferior: not "declining" from Omar.

In any case, as I said, the scholarship of the past 40 years had demonstrated that the Christian cultures of the Levant and Egypt were NOT in decline in the 7th century A.D.--though for Omar, they remain candidates for the scrap-heap in the face of the "ascending" culture of Islam. His imperviousness to thefacts of history here shows just what a died-in-the-wool defender of Islamic imperialism he is.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

Mr Friedman
If that makes you happy why not indulge??


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

The utter idiocy of the presumed British/Indian analogy is revealed in the fact that neither was "assimilated" by or into the other and that INDIA was/is far from being assimilated by Britain.
Even in his "me too" deep reflections he chooses the most trite of the earlier "thoughts"!


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Dear NF,

V.S. Naipaul has argued in Beyond Belief that Islamic imperialism was and is the most thorough-going imperialism there is. In the case of Pakistan, he emphasizes, those who defended the Indus valley in the 10th-12th centuries A.D. from invading and ravaging Muslim armies are NOT viewed now as national heroes by the Islamized population of the region, but rather as vile defenders of paganism who should be condemned for resisting the Truth, and then forgotten.

In no other imperial situation do we find this, where the imperialized population condemns its own historic defenders as worthy to burn in Hell.

What can be more thorough-going an imperialism than this, where the resisters to the imperial power are not merely ignored by the conquered population but condemned by the (not only conquered but) culturally totally-colonized and religiously subordinated population?


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

Mr. Baker,

First, you've made no headway against my contention that Turks in the 11th century (and 12th, and 13th, ... and 20th) viewed Arabs contemptuously.

Second, your contention that Muslims needed 80 years (actually, nearly 90) to overcome "disunity" and rouse themselves for an attack on Jerusalem simply reinforces the known fact that Jerusalem was not a special place for Muslims ... until about 1947, according to my research. No peoples could have been more "disunited" than Europeans in the 17th century (see, e.g., The Thirty Years War and any map of the era), but that did not prevent Christian Europe from combining to save Vienna from the Turks in 1683.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

Assimilation of a declining cultural/national identity by an ascending cultural/national identity, for whatever reasons for both, is hardly a form of imperialism since the assimilated cultural/national identity remerges into, as a constituent part of, the resultant comprehensive cultural/national identity.
Such as the Breton being assimilated into the French cultural/national identity and forming a constituent part of the overall resultant French cultural/national identity.
This rationale can be rationally carried forward , in another numerical/quantitative context instead of a confrontational context, by substituting “declining” by “ minoritarian” and “ascending” by “majoritarian” in a certain society, community , nation were the minority is CULTURALLY assimilated into the majority such as ,say, the Italians in the predominant Anglo Saxon cultural /national identity of the USA.
NO IMPERIALISM HERE ALSO!
(Understandably this bloodless, race less concept is very difficult to digest and far more difficult to accept by and for those brought up on a tradition of a blood,race/ethnicity
based concept of their own, presumed, common national identity. AND some of them contend that it is DNA verifiable!!!)


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

Quoting the speech at Clermont so extensively is making me want to get a claymore and head for Jerusalem! :)

Btw, is it really fair, Mr. Eckstein, to do actual research while I, a mere amateur historian, am writing off the top of my head? And I still think I have the better of the argument.


N. Friedman - 12/17/2008

Art,

Professor Karsh has written a book which argues about the history of the expression of imperialism under Muslim rule, noting that the motive of many a conqueror of pious learning was imperial, with Islamic theology and law being used - whether or not such being the correct interpretation of the religion - as state ideology to support that imperial policy. The book is Islamic Imperialism - A History. It is worth reading if you have not previously read it.


N. Friedman - 12/17/2008

Omar,

So far as I know, Saladin's main object was to build an empire. He was not acting on behalf of the Arabs, at least so far as the histories I have read.

Further, the Crusades were, in his time, a lesser matter. The main event was occurring from the East.

I think, as usual, you have your facts wrong.l


N. Friedman - 12/17/2008

Omar,

While you are not wholly incorrect regarding the history of the word "Arab," that does not mean that Khaldun has been correctly understood by you. Which is to say, the comment by Mr. Bernstein is, so far as I know, quite correct. If you disagree, you are invited to provide us text in Khaldun which is mistranslated into English along with what you believe to be the correct interpretation.

For what it is worth, in the Ottoman times during which Khaldun wrote, regard for those in Arab dominated regions such as today's Iraq, Syria and Arabia were written about in dismissive terms. Such point has been remarked upon by such writers as, if I recall correct, Bernard Lewis.

As for the rest of your comment, I would love to see some evidence to support it.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

As earlier noted:
"The Crusades occurred in an era of intense Moslem/Arab disunity and pervasive local rivalries which included some regional military alliances with the crusaders (NOT unlike today.)
The relevant portion of the “80 “ years that elapsed were substantially employed at ending that disunity , reestablishing unity and formulating a common regional response as any perusal of the Sallah Idin (SALADIN) and predecessors era would indicate .\***

For the era the Crusades imperialist conquest was a momentous western/European multinational political/ military project with alliances, means and arms that stipulated suitable and time consuming political and military preparations to counter and repulse."

That should answer most of the questions re the time/duration element in the response to the Crusades.
---------------
*** One can also add the standard precondition for all major wars: the emergence of the state and leadership with the political will to wage the liberation war!

---------------

Re Saladin:
of course he was a Kurd and a Moslem however the battle he fought the primary objective of which was to reinstate the Arab (NOT Kurdish) character and identity of Jerusalem and Palestine in general made it an Arab war .
(La Fayette was NOT American but he fought an American war.)

That liberation war was fought by Moslems and Chritian Arabs but mainly by Moslem Arabs and non Arab Moslems at an era in which Arab and Moslem were hardly distinguishable from each other all being subjects of the same, then, Islamic state(s).

It should also be noted here that Christians, primarily and certainly Christian Arabs and non Arabs alike , were NOT excluded from the LIBERATED Jerusalem nor were Christian Arabs excluded from all of Palestine after the repulse and ejection of the Crusades from it.



A. M. Eckstein - 12/17/2008

Yes, Mr. Green is absolutely correct about Omar's imperialism!

Omar writes:

"The process known as “ARABIZATION”!
That is what took place in the case of the Arab, Islam propelled, advance into greater Syria, Iraq, the Sudan , Egypt and North Africa where the ASCENDING Arab culture/national identity submerged and assimilated local cultures/national identities that were in DECLINE thus successfully substituting Arabic for their local languages and ARABIZING them in the process."

1. This is absolutely classic imperialist rhetoric: e.g., the British after 1760: conquer India because their culture is decadent and in "decline" and we are ascendent and "modern"! It's GOOD for them!

Congratulations on joining the ranting imperialists, Omar!

2. In ANY case, Omar is WRONG that those Christian cultures of the Middle East were IN decline ca. 630 A.D. when the violent Arab conquerors arrrived! He is repeating the orthodox opinion of 100 years ago. Much work has been done since then, including by my own Ancient History colleague here at my university, which establishes that the Christian cities and cultures of the Levant and Egypt (and the Aegean for that matter) were vibrant and energetic ca. 630 A.D.

What a surprise! Omar is IGNORANT of recent scholarship (i.e., the scholarship of, say, the past 40 years!)--which THEN allows him to engage in an absolutely classic imperialist rant...


Elliott Aron Green - 12/17/2008

Note that Omar seems to justify --in his post of 3:05 am 12-17-2008-- the Arab-Muslim conquests on the grounds that the cultures of the conquered peoples were already "in deline." That is a classic excuse for imperialism. But I thought that the Arabs were "anti-imperialists."

. . . the process known as “ARABIZATION”!
That is what took place in the case of the Arab, Islam propelled, advance into greater Syria, Iraq, the Sudan , Egypt and North Africa where the ascending Arab culture/national identity submerged and assimilated local cultures/national identities that were in decline thus successfully substituting Arabic for their local languages and ARABIZING them in the process.


Whereas
the national languages of both Turkey and Iran neither of whose culture/national identity was in decline thus resisting assimilation into the advancing Arab culture/ national identity of either of them thus NOT ARABIZING either of them!

Well, the British carried the White Man's Burden, the French had their Mission Civilisatrice, and the Arabs wanted no more than to uplift the peoples whose cultures [and languages] were in decline!! How generous!!


Elliott Aron Green - 12/17/2008

Prof Eckstein mentions Reynaud de Chatillon, lord of Krak des Chevaliers in Transjordan east of the Dead Sea, now Kerak in the kingdom of Jordan. This place is called Qir Moab in the Bible while in Aramaic translation, it is Krakh and Krakha d'Moab.

Bernard Lewis substantially confirms Eckstein's understanding in his The Crisis of Islam, 2003. Lewis points out that Reynaud conducted not only raids by land on caravans but sea piracy, even sending ships to harass the Red Sea coast of Hijaz, where the two Muslim holy cities [al-haramayn] are located. Reynaud did this in defiance of a truce with the Muslims, with Saladin, etc., arranged by the King of Jerusalem whom Reynaud did not obey. So as Prof Eckstein wrote, how do we account for the 80 plus years that the Muslims lived with the Crusader presence without a major military effort to overthrow and expel them?? And Saladin was willing to keep a truce with the Crusader King of Jerusalem unitl Reynaud's provocations pushed him to act. How does Omar account for that??

Further, the Muslim forces that fought the Crusaders were not especially Arab. Saladin himself was a Kurd. His forces were mainly made up of Mamluks [if I am not mistaken], originally non-Muslim boys from outside the Muslim domain who were captured, enslaved and brought up to be Muslim soldiers. Can Omar consider Saladin's victory to be an Arab victory?

Then Omar tells us that the Crusaders were considered aliens in the Middle East [Orient] of that time. Probably so. But the Arabs too were originally conquerors alien to the Fertile Crescent lands. Their conquest of the Land of Israel was finished in 640 CE with the fall of Caesarea. Egypt fell several years later. The Arab conquest of Jerusalem in 638 was only 461 years earlier than the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, an equally bloody --perhaps bloodier-- event to be sure. The Arab conquest of the Fertile Crescent was followed by an unending situation of military occupation aimed at economic exploitation and humiliation of the native, subject peoples in the Fertile Crescent lands.

Omar might also explain why the govt of Egypt traded the safety of its capital Cairo for much less important Jerusalem, when Cairo was threatened by a French Crusading army in 1229. This surrender of Jerusalem in return for Cairo's safety gave Crusaders another 15 years of control in Jerusalem. I give the usual explanation for what happened in 1229. What is Omar's explanation?? It seems that the Muslims were not really so upset about the Crusader invasion as Omar would like to view them as having been.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

Mr Hamilton
Contrary to your declared intentions you certainly DO oversimplify many things to the point of deformation.
I note two salient points:
1-"(Mr. Baker should understand this well, since he must know that for more than 80 years after the Crusader capture of Jerusalem, Muslim warriors ignored calls for jihad against the Crusader states until a Latin warlord in the Holyland began raiding caravans of Muslim pilgrims traveling through his territory from Damascus to Mecca. For both Christians and Muslims, then, the interdiction of pilgrim caravans to their holiest places was a causas belli)."
AND
2-"…. nor did the Turks have much respect for the Western Muslims -- as evidenced, for example, by their refusal to learn the "language of the Prophet", Arabic. "
RE (1):The Crusades from the first day of their arrival were perceived as conquering ALIENS intent on dominating the lands and peoples in which they settled and exploiting it.
Remember the Venetians who were avowedly mercantile, business like in the favourite American expression, on their way to and while at the Holy Lands in all their dealings with their “Christian” partners and presumed allies!
That it took several decades for an appropriately proportional Arab/“Moslem “ reaction to the Alien , imperialist, conquest to materialize , a fact, is certainly NOT a question of Moslem pilgrims caravans being attacked and goes far behind it.
The Crusades occurred in an era of intense Moslem/Arab disunity and pervasive local rivalries which included some regional military alliances with the crusaders (NOT unlike today.)
The relevant portion of the “80 “ years that elapsed were substantially employed at ending that disunity , reestablishing unity and formulating a common regional response as any perusal of the Sallah Idin (SALADIN) and predecessors era would indicate .
For the era the Crusades imperialist conquest was a momentous western/European multinational political/ military project with alliances, means and arms that stipulated suitable and time consuming political and military preparations to counter and repulse.
Re (2):
It is, simply, “simplistic” to voice a claim wherein a nation “refuses” to “learn” another language!
For one thing nations do not” learn” a different language; they gradually adopt a different language, in lieu of their own , and substitute it for their indigenous language as their lingua franca !
The issue is intrinsically the process emanating from the encounter, the clash?, of two languages reflecting and embodying two cultures /national identities one of which is in decline while the other is in ascent, for whatever reasons, that end up with one culture/national identity assimilating the other and including it in its , thus transformed, new national , identity which includes many of the features of the assimilated culture/national identity.
That is the process known as “ARABIZATION”!
That is what took place in the case of the Arab, Islam propelled, advance into greater Syria, Iraq, the Sudan , Egypt and North Africa where the ascending Arab culture/national identity submerged and assimilated local cultures/national identities that were in decline thus successfully substituting Arabic for their local languages and ARABIZING them in the process.
While that same process failed to substitute Arabic for the national languages of both Turkey and Iran neither of whose culture/national identity was in decline thus resisting assimilation into the advancing Arab culture/ national identity of either of them thus NOT ARABIZING either of them!



art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Nor is it the case that Saladin took Jerusalem because of the attacks of the Kingdom of Jerusalem on pilgrimage caravans going to Mecca.

1. Those were indeed attacked by Reynald of Chatillon, lord of Krak des Chevalliers, in 1182. But Reynald was not under the control of the King of Jerusalem (Baldwin), ignored the King's protests about this, and did what he wanted--and he had a personal fued with the family of Saladin (he had been held prisoner by Saladin's relatives for 16 years).The result was nevertheless a war between the Christian lords and Saladin which lasted 3 years. This war ended with a truce.

2. Reynald violated that truce a year later, but it was not via an attack on pilgrims going to Mecca--he attacked a rich commercial caravan going from Egypt to Damascus (opposite direction from Mecca). Saladin protested, the King of Jerusalem demanded that Reynald pay compensation, and the reply from Reynald was "I do what I want at my castle."

3. The result of this was indeed eventually the war that led to Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem, after the battle of Hattin in 1187.

It's all quite complicated, but it's not that Saladin went to war with the Crusaders because the Crusader kingdom attacked pilgrim caravans to Mecca, as suggested by Mr. Hamilton.


art eckstein - 12/17/2008

Mr. Hamilton writes that Western Christians ignored Manzikert and the subsequent Turkish conquests in Asia Minor at Byzantine expense.

This is simply untrue. Here is what Pope Urban II said at Clermont in proclaiming the first crusade in 1095:

"For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it."

Doesn't sound like Urban is ignoring Manzikert and its consequences to me, Mr. Hamilton.

And here is what Urban said about the condition of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the same speech:

"Of holy Jerusalem, brethren, we dare not speak, for we are exceedingly afraid and ashamed to speak of it. This very city, in which, as you all know, Christ Himself suffered for us, because our sins demanded it, has been reduced to the pollution of paganism and, I say it to our disgrace, withdrawn from the service of God. Such is the heap of reproach upon us who have so much deserved it! Who now serves the church of the Blessed Mary in the valley of Josaphat, in which church she herself was buried in body? Of the Lord's Sepulchre we have refrained from speaking, since some of you with your own eyes have seen to what abominations it has been given over. The Turks violently took from it the offerings which you brought there for alms in such vast amounts, and, in addition, they scoffed much and often 'at Your religion. And yet in that place (I say only what you already know) rested the Lord; there He died for us; there He was buried. How precious would be the longed for, incomparable place of the Lord's burial, even if God failed there to perform the yearly miracle! For in the days of His Passion all the lights in the Sepulchre and round about in the church, which have been extinguished, are relighted by divine command. Whose heart is so stony, brethren, that it is not touched by so great a miracle? Believe me, that man is bestial and senseless whose heart such divinely manifest grace does not move to faith!"


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

Good post, Mr. Baker, on the evolution of the term "Arabs". Like most modern writers, I struggle to make people understand the distinctions that were formerly made between people who are "Arab" by blood and those who are "Arab" by language and culture. The best I've come up with is, "Calling Moroccans, Egyptians, and Syrians 'Arabs' is like calling Mexicans, Peruvians, and Argentines 'Spaniards'".

Oh well, I understand that in the Arab-speaking world, Europeans are still called "Franks" -- after the most predominant group of the Crusader knights. I always thought it was ironic that the American conqueror of Iraq was General Tommy Franks.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/17/2008

I think I have shown that the Latin Crusaders of the 1090s were more motivated by the Turkish Muslim depredations against Latin holyland pilgrims than they were by either the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (in 1009, IIRC) or the Byzantine Christian defeat at Manzikert in 1071. In the first case, IIRC, the destruction of the CHS was done by a Caligula-type Egyptian madman, and was soon rectified after his death. With the Christians still constituting a large plurality or majority in the region, the Muslim overlords could not afford to offend them too greatly. The Turk victory at Manzikert was completely ignored in the West. This last is what I want to address now.

Western Christians -- and Protestants have been as guilty as Roman Catholics -- have a long and ignoble record of ignoring Muslim atrocities against Eastern Christians (most of them are "Orthodox", but some are Catholics of the non-Roman variety). This record stretches from the days of the Crusades, down to the last 100 years -- the Turkish massacres of Armenian and Greek Christians, 1915-23; the Muslim massacres of Lebanese Christians, 1975-90; the half-century of Muslim genocide against Arab Christians in Israel; and, most recently, the U.S.-aided ethnic-cleansing of Christians from Bosnia and Kosovo. (And, perhaps, the ongoing Muslim pogroms against Christians in Iraq.)

It is little wonder that Eastern Christians -- the real brains of the Muslim World now that the Jews are gone -- have shown no fealty for their "brethren" in the West. It's no wonder that they have championed an "Arab" nationalism -- what is their alternative? The West has abandoned them to the "good graces" of their Muslim overlords. They do what they must to survive. It is a shame for which the West must, someday, atone.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2008

Mr Bernstein
As you might be aware , since you included it in your post, Ibn Khaldun was using the term "Arab" for Bedouin and Bedu in the sense, still used by some until recently , of "marauding nomads " to distinguish them mainly from their “compatriots’ in the Moslem state(s): the "peasants" and "city dwellers" who were usually the victims of their pillaging efforts; ”ghezu”!.
However the term Arab has acquired in modern times a totally different meaning to encompass all Arabic speaking peoples; it was used by the French to describe the Algerian people at the outset of the French conquest of North Africa in the 1800s!

The concept and realization, the evolution of a common multi confessional consciousness of both Moslems and Christians , of all belonging to one nation/cultural heritage totally devoid of any ethnic or blood link further crystallized more recently, circa the 1900s, with the first stirrings of ”Arab” independence movements from Ottoman Turkish rule with, inter alia, such movements as “Al Kahataniyeh Society” which distinguished “Arab” from “Moslem”!

Presently it has acquired a totally different meaning and connotation, which reflects a prevalent public multi confessional consensus, as the common appellation of all that are, and believe to be part of , to belong to, the one Arab nation which extends from Iran western borders ,in the East, to the Atlantic , in Morocco, in the West that distinguishes them, but does NOT separate them, from their predominantly Moslem regional indigenous partners ; the Turks and Iranians .

That concept of being Arab, being both colour and “blood” free i.e. fundamentally non racist and consequently anti racist, was resented and vehemently opposed by many particularly those regional intruders, the aliens, who base their own “racist” unity on blood and ethnicity considerations: thence their flagrant racism in, historically, a fundamentally non racist , anti racist environment !


A. M. Eckstein - 12/16/2008

And in the broadest view, the Crusades were indeed a Christian COUNTER-attack against the vast Muslim conquests of the first centuries of Islam, which seized vast Christian areas in the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa.


A. M. Eckstein - 12/16/2008

My point was that the beginnings of the Crusading movement began with the destruction of the Holy Sepulcher, which caused great shock in the West.

Of course, Manzikert was more directly involved--Pope Urban, in preaching the Crusade at Clermont, emphasized the trouble the Eastern Empire was in--and the attacks on Christian pilgrims were even more directly involved.

But the utter Muslim destruction of the Holy Sepulcher, and its failure to be rebuilt, was the starting point, even though it was much earlier.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/16/2008

First, as Mr. Bernstein says, Mr. Baker does "conflate the 12th and 21st centuries". However, in fairness, I have seen Jews conflate the 1st and 12th centuries -- "... the destruction of Masada, next stop the Crusades!" -- , so Muslims are not alone in this sort of error. But this is an aside from my main point.

My main point is that both Mr. Baker and Mr. Eckstein are incorrect about the origins of the Crusades.

To explain in what I hope is not an unduly simplified way, I think it is helpful to understand that the Crusades were a four-way conflict. Both the Christians and the Muslims were divided into two main factions. I will call the Christian factions "Eastern Christians" and "Latins", and the Muslim factions "Western (Arabic-speaking) Muslims" and "Turks". The Latins had no love for their Eastern Christian co-religionists nor did the Turks have much respect for the Western Muslims -- as evidenced, for example, by their refusal to learn the "language of the Prophet", Arabic. The Eastern Christians lived in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, from North Africa to Egypt. Centered at Constantinople, they had political control as far as what is now eastern Turkey and northern Lebanon. The Latins dominated in what we now call "Western Europe". The Western Muslims controlled what is now the "Near East", roughly from Baghdad through Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, and then across North Africa to Spain -- the legacy of the "Arab Conquest" of the 7th and 8th centuries. As Mr. Eckstein correctly suggests, the populations of much of this region, including Palestine, was probably still majority Eastern Christian in the 11th century. The Turks originated in the Trans-Oxiana -- the region northeast of Iran and now known as "the -stans", which were created after the collapse of the USSR.

In the 11th century, the Turks were on the move -- westward. First conquering Baghdad and then expanding towards Anatolia (the Eastern Christian domains in eastern Turkey). Meanwhile, the Latins had little interest in the affairs of the Easterners -- Christian or Muslim -- except for the right and protection of pilgrimage routes through both Eastern Christian (Turkey) and Western Muslim (Lebanon and Palestine) domains.

Mr. Eckstein is wrong when he says that the Crusades were spurred by the destruction of Christian holy places in the early 11th century. I believe the events of which he speaks occurred in the first quarter of the 11th century. Since the Crusades didn't begin until 1095, that alone should show the lack of a connection. What really happened is that the Turks, spreading into Anatolia, wiped out a Byzantine (Eastern Christian) army at Manzikert in 1071. This produced the earliest pleas, from the Byzantine emperor, to the Latin kingdoms for a "crusade" to restore his lost lands. The Latins, caring (then and now) nothing for fate the Eastern Christians, ignored the pleas.

However, within about 20 years, the Turkish expansion had reached the Mediterranean coast in what is now southern Turkey, Lebanon, and northern Israel. This cut the pilgrimage routes for the Latins to reach their holylands. The Turks, being newer to Islam and not effeminized by centuries of relative luxury like the Western Muslims, were not nearly as tolerant of the Christians living under their rule as the Arabs had been. The Turks were even less tolerant of the Latin pilgrims who claimed a right to pass through the Turkish territories on their way to Jerusalem and environs.

Latin monarchs and knights, who in 1071 couldn't be bestirred to save the domains of the Eastern emperor, were in 1095 incensed by the reports of Turkish depredations against Latin pilgrims and the Holyland in general. (Mr. Baker should understand this well, since he must know that for more than 80 years after the Crusader capture of Jerusalem, Muslim warriors ignored calls for jihad against the Crusader states until a Latin warlord in the Holyland began raiding caravans of Muslim pilgrims traveling through his territory from Damascus to Mecca. For both Christians and Muslims, then, the interdiction of pilgrim caravans to their holiest places was a causas belli).

Thus the Latins raised a mighty (for them) army of knights -- they didn't call themselves "Crusaders", btw, but "pilgrims" or "armed pilgrims". And the Latins didn't defeat an army of Arabs at Dorylaeum (in modern Turkey) in 1097, but Turks. It was actually a miracle that the Crusaders were able to fight their way through the Turkish domains to Jerusalem -- the modern equivalent would be an armed Muslim reconquest of the Iberian peninsula today. And one of the ironies of Jerusalem was that in the year before the Crusaders arrived at the gates, the Arabs had driven the Turks off.

I hope that this will help show Mr. Baker that the Crusades were not some sort of "proto-imperialism" by the West and Mr. Eckstein that the origins of the Crusades are slightly different than he has proposed.


N. Friedman - 12/16/2008

Mr. Bernstein,

I agree with you entirely. I should add that you have tapped into Omar's M.O. He has opinions and holds them dearly even when confronted with facts that contradict his opinions.

I should add that Professor Eckstein's point that the Crusades were a reaction to Muslim conquests also has some truth to it. If nothing else, the ideological aspect was of the Crusades was a reaction to Jihad and Muslim conquests. Of course, the Crusades were also a way for rulers to send otherwise unruly subjects far away where they might be less trouble.

You might also note Omar's list of Christian supporters of pan-Arab ideologies. He might, however, recall that his list is filled with fascists and terrorists, hardly the flower of humanity. The famed Michel Aflaq, moreover, saw Islam as the true content of Arab nationalism, writing, "The power of Islam has revived to appear in our days under a new form, that of Arab nationalism." And, while he was born in to Orthodox Christianity, he received a Muslim burial and may even have converted to Islam.


Lewis Bernstein - 12/16/2008

One hardly knows where to begin--Mr. Baker conveniently conflates the 12th and the 21st centuries. National consciousness as he uses the term is used out of socio-historical context. Neato.
Similarly, his definition of imperialism is so broad all is imperial, and of course the Arabs are the victims. I seem to remember Ibn Khaldun writing about Arabs and the Bedou in very dismissive terms, writing about them as destructive barbarians.
As for the peaceful nature of the Chinese--well one might try to explain that to the various indigenous peoples the Chinese Empire has annexed over the course of its history.


art eckstein - 12/16/2008

Omar, do you care to try to prove that what I wrote was wrong?

PROVE IT with EVIDENCE.

Oh, wait--on the thread "The Myth of Arab Innocence", last week, we proved to hilarious effect that providing EVIDENCE is not exactly your strong point.


R.R. Hamilton - 12/16/2008

"No ... Chinese have attacked or occupied any countries for centuries."

Tell that to Korea (1950).
Tell that to Tibet (1950 and 1959).
Tell that to India (1962).
Tell that to Russia (1969).
Tell that to Vietnam (1979).

In fact, do the Chinese have any neighbors who they have not attacked in the last 60 years? It can't be many.

Anyway, Mr. Besch, you win this week's Michael Bellesiles Award for Historical Research.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/16/2008

"Oh--better not bring up FACTS."
(Re: Notes about a flawed book (#130116)
by art eckstein on December 15, 2008 at 6:35 PM)
aptly summs up a "trained historian" outlook....aversion to facts.
Bravo ..Prof!


art eckstein - 12/15/2008

One ought to remember that the Crusades were a Christian counter-attack against Muslim imperial conquest.

NO ONE gave Egypt, Judaea, Syria and eastern Asia Minor to the Muslims, nor were they there in perpetuity. These areas had all been Christian before the Muslims militarily conquered them and pressured the populations to convert to Islam (except in the old Judaea, where Christians either were a majority or close to it).

Muslims in general and Arabs in particular always see themselves as victims when the fact is that they were conquerers. Hence their version of the Crusades, in which they have been in those lands forever and in God-given possession of them, instead of conquerers of a subject population. Muslims in general (and Arabs in particular) saw (and many of them, including Omar) see nothing wrong with violent conquest as long as they are the ones doing the violence and the conquest. The only time they raise the flag for victims is if they are the ones doing the suffering--otherwise, violence to extend the religion of Allah is viewed by many in the umma as both a duty and glorious; THAT someone should attack THEM, on the other hand, is contrary to God's Plan and is intolerable.

The movement in the West for a Crusade was set off in specific by the total destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre--THE holiest place on earth for Christians--by a Muslim ruler, the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bin-Amr Allah. The church was 700 years old. Though al-Hakim's son allowed the rebuilding of the church (in exchange for a mosque in Constantinople), the main basilica remained destroyed down to bedrock until the Crusaders arrived.

Oh--better not bring up FACTS.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/15/2008

Right YOU ARE!


Randll Reese Besch - 12/15/2008

Also the fact that early on before his handlers corrected him, Pres. Bush said it at least three times in his speeches in preparation for the coming eternal war against 'evil' was to commence. A Manichean view of the world that many Arabs and Muslims could and would understand in their own contexties.

No Mongols or Chinese have attacked or occupied any countries for centuries. However those of the USA and Europe have to this day. That is immediacy.


omar ibrahim baker - 12/15/2008

Although he somehow modifies it along the way Mr Riley-Smith's perception of the whole issue of the Crusades is flawed in that he perceives it, as in the title of his article, as an exclusively, or a predominantly, Islamist , as distinct from Pan Arab,"Bête noire" i.e. as a perennial past, present and future enemy of Islam then of the Arabs!

The whole tradition/history of the Crusades was, still is, overwhelmingly perceived by practically all Arabs as primarily a pan Arab “bête noire” that did and does include among its detractors and fore warners all "nationalist", as distinct from Islamist, ideologues irrespective of their confessional affiliation.
Foremost among which , to name only a few, are Michel Aflaq, Elias Farah, The Sayegh Brothers , Maan Bashour and George Habbash ; all Christians Arabs.

More recently Amin Malouf , also a Christian Arab, was prominent in both unveiling the barbarism, and indirectly, the semblance between past and present "Crusading " conquests of the Arabs!

This common perception, that has developed into a collective sub conscious conviction, was borne out of , and still encompasses all past, present and future anti Arab conquests, or hostile actions, that includes one or several of the following elements:
-A multi –national Western alliance, with a joint expeditionary force derived from several Western countries
-aiming at the subjugation of the Levant to achieve its political/economic subservience to the West
AND/OR
-denationalizing any part of the Arab nation i.e. effacing its predominant Arab national identity,
The evident presence of and the decisive role played RECENTLY by these factors in the Sykes/Picot agreement, the Western assisted establishment of Israel in Palestine and the conquest, and intentional destruction, of Iraq ALL by multi Western alliances /ententes only served to further cement this conviction and general perception.
The impression that it was primarily an anti Arab undertaking is borne out from many historical indicators the most popular of which is the fact that most Christian Arab tribes fought along the Moslems tribes to counter the Crusaders while some Moslem tribes were joined in military alliances with the diverse Christian Crusaders’ Kingdoms.
Another often cited instance re the intrinsic nature of Crusading conquests as being primarily anti Arab than anti Islam is the French attempt, generally in its North African colonies but mainly in Algeria, to substitute French for Arabic as the dominant lingua franca of the country; a malaise from which Algeria still suffers to this day
An interesting aside re the Crusades is that it is still much more vividly remembered in Arab minds and cited in Arab folklore , histography and literature than the Mongol conquests which were much more destructive for it assumed CONTEMPORARY relevance about perennial western intentions and designs.
(President Bush's remark about the Iraqi conquest being a Crusade DID NOT cause any surprise!It was generally deemed as "honestly" reflecting his inner convictions!)

Riley-Smith narrative is also flawed in its implicit, later made explicit, absurd contention about " the decay of imperialism in the twentieth century" despite the fact that he is fully aware, since he cited, the all too plain historical facts ( related above) on which Arab perception is BASED about the unrelenting continuance of imperialism in modern times ; at least as far as they are concerned!
Riley-Smith is, of course, free to believe whatever he wants BUT since his article is about Arab/Moslem perception of the whole issue of the Crusaders his beliefs are immaterial when presumably analyzing what lies behind Arab/Moslem perceptions since it is their beliefs, NOT his, that determine their perceptions!

Subscribe to our mailing list