Sunday, February 8, 2015

Six Arguments about Crusade and Memory

A number of conservative Crusades scholars, some people I consider friends, have told me how wrong my Guardian piece is. They have not, though, really told me why. I thought I would boil my piece down to six core arguments and number them, in hopes of receiving better feedback. Maybe a real discussion could break out.

So which of these are untrue, and why do you think so?

1) Christianity can and has, like other religious and secular ideologies, sparked the creation of an "us versus them" epistemology which enables horrific acts of violence.

2) The Crusades featured some of those acts of violence, though historians debate how many and how often. [Note conservative historians - that second clause is for you. We debate these things, but there was some, right?]

3) There is a Crusades-reclamation project among conservative journalists and politicians, who, like liberal journalists and politicians, in fact often don't know very much about history. [that's citing Matt Gabriele's excellent work on this topic].

4) Quote - "There’s no question that crusaders were sometimes driven to slaughter non-Christian civilian populations both in Europe and in southwest Asia, all in the name of religion."

5) Quote - "Reminding the public about ugly moments in the history of Christianity does not make one anti-Christian."

6) Quote - "We need humility. We must recognize our fallibility, we must study the past to understand why things happen, and then we must try to do better."

So what I didn't address in my Guardian piece, but did in my blog post earlier today, was the whole question of defensive war. I'm actually not that interested in the question, except for how it does and doesn't manifest in medieval source material. So when conservatives in the comments come back to me and say, "defensive war! You're wrong! Check the facts!" (so many of these on twitter and in comment threads), that's fine and all, but it doesn't negate any of the above six points.

So I ask again - if you didn't like my essay, which of these six points do you think are wrong, and why? I'm always listening, and my mind is changeable.

2 comments:

MG said...

So did anyone respond?

David Perry said...

Nope. A friend of mine wrote a thoughtful critique that said these were mostly beside the point, but he's not really one of the critics.