Conservative author James Delingpole must not have been hugged enough as a child, because he is seeking attention in the most negative of ways, trying with some success to annoy liberal-minded people. His book, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy, contains a real doozy at #54:
#54: Defend the Crusades
…as an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution of Christians in the Holy Land, including the crucifixion and execution of pilgrims, and the plunder and destruction of churches-10,000 of them in the early eleventh century, including Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Christ’s burial.
I’ve heard some people say that the Crusades weren’t all bad, or maybe contained a seed of good within the bad, or perhaps were sometimes motivated by good intentions. These people may have a point.
But “entirely reasonable”? What kind of warped reading of history (or, I suspect, warped lack of reading of history) motivates James Delingpole to call the Crusades “entirely reasonable?” “Entirely reasonable” is a phrase that brooks no unreasonable aspect: for the Crusades to have been “entirely reasonable,” there can’t have been one part of them that was ill-advised.
So it is worth asking: was the killing of the entire populations of Muslim communities in, around, and far away from Jerusalem, right down to the babies, “entirely reasonable?” Was the killing of thousands of Muslim prisoners of war “entirely reasonable?” Was the excommunication of and confiscation of any property of any Christian for the sin of entering the house of a Muslim, eating with a Muslim, caring for the child of a Muslim, trading with a Muslim or traveling with a Muslim “entirely reasonable?”
And then there’s James Delingpole’s second half of his “entirely reasonable” claim: that the Crusades were “an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution…”. But the Crusades were hardly all about Islam. Was the repeated mass murder of Jews in Europe along the way to Jerusalem “an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution?” Was the massacre of Jews in Jerusalem “an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution?” Was the sack of Christian Constantinople “an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution?” Was King Richard’s rampage in Sicilian Messina “an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution?” Was the utter elimination of the Cathars in the South of France “an entirely reasonable response to centuries of Muslim persecution?”
The Crusades were many things. To call them “entirely reasonable” and to characterize their inhuman atrocities as mere reactions to Muslim atrocities is to sacrifice truth on the altar of an agenda. Ask James Delingpole what his agenda is.