Jihad and the Crusades

Andrew G. Bostom, Jihad begot the Crusades (1) (American Thinker 05ma04) objects to the thesis that the Crusades were unprovoked aggression against Muslims. In going over the history, he also highlights differences between the Qur’an and the Bible in regards to warfare and its conduct.

Unlike the espousal of jihad in the Qur’an, the constituent texts of Christianity, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, do not contain a form fruste institutionalization of the Crusades. The Bible sanctions the Israelites conquest of Canaan, a limited domain, it does not sanction a permanent war to submit all the nations of humanity to a uniform code of religious law. Similarly, the tactics of warfare are described in the Bible, unlike the Qur’an, in very circumscribed and specific contexts. Moreover, while the Bible clearly condemns certain inhumane practices of paganism, it never invoked an eternal war against all of the world’s pagan peoples.

This is a response to Ridley Scott’s new movie Kingdom of Heaven. Whether or not Scott mispresented history to any degree, the argument about the ‘moral equivalance’ needs to be made with care. Current specific behaviors appropriately qualified as representative of a defined group should be valid point. Comparison of source documents for ideology, such as the Bible or the Qur’an, should provide another.

The difficulty with these arguments is that bias in perception must be carefully considered. For example, see No Star Wars for Oil by Craig Winneker (TCS 05ma11). When you go looking for something, you can often find it. Intellectual integrity shows when what you find is placed in an appropriate context and weight to truly reflect reality. All too often such integrity is missing.

You can see these same ideas in the arguments about judicial fillibusters. An equivalance is made between past practice and current practice by glossing over the difference between committee and fillibuster or between overall nominee approval rates and appellate court nominee rates. There is a temptation to establish a moral equivalance – everyone does it. An honest look at behaviors and source documents may provide a good case that there are important differences.

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