June 23, 2003
After 9/11, George Bush called for a crusade against Muslim terrorists!
Please friendly reader, those with open mind and heart, disseminate this to people that you know. We need a new Enlightenment to break through the chains of the ignorance nourished by the corporate state. We need people like you to read, to think, to write, to act, to compose, to dream, and to educate. We live in times of constant and continual warfare, where nuclear brinkmanship roars its genocidal anger to intimidate and terrify all who crave life and creation over death and destruction. We need to re-examine the patterns of world history to build a more complicated and humanitarian map of existence that instills people with knowledge and the desire for progressive change. We need to replicate hope, outward from ourselves to larger and larger groups of people. As Gandhi observed, "We must be the change we want to see in the world."
Islam does not equal terrorism; however, fundamentalist elements within societies of any kind promote acts of terrorism. Religious and political fundamentalism has taken a plethora of forms throughout history but has almost always kept the same structure: the us versus them dichotomy. The state's manipulation of fear, lust for control over resources, and propagandistic ideological territoriality, has rallied the masses into frenzied aggression against the other, evil entity in a countless series of conflicts that have regressed the state of humanity into barbarous beasts each time warrior-leaders shriek for battle.
Tribal and national leaders alike understand that the easiest way to deflect insight and judgment into their own policies lies in the distraction of the masses with an omni-present enemy. Kept ignorant of the complexity of the history of society and the political-economic arena, and easily fooled by a skillfully marketed reductionism that limits multiple choices, many people either cower behind or fanatically support the one agenda distributed from above. And often those that cry foul get silenced or slandered as an enemy themselves.
In the 11th century, Seljuk Turks from the steppes of central Asia rebelled against the Abbasid Shiites who at that time ruled most of the Muslim world, and pierced through their overextended empire to sack Iran and Syria. The new Turkish sultan and his army then thrust across the Anatolian peninsula and closed in on the gateway to Christian Europe, Constantinople. Holy Roman Emperor Alexis I, terrified at the approach of what he thought to be Muslim infidels, pleaded with the pope and Christian states of Europe to launch a crusade, or holy war against the heretics from the East.
Alexis claimed that savage Muslims had destroyed Christian shrines in the Holy Land, raped women, and molested innocent children, all a fabrication but necessary to enlist the support of zealous crusaders. In 1096 CE Pope Urban II, with the support of Christian kings across Europe, launched the first crusade against the unbelievers believing it a great opportunity to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the rule of Allah. After the recitation of a promising vow to God, and the reception of a cross and indulgence from the legates of the pope, warriors peregrinated with a righteous mission to the cities of Muhammad that lie to the east.
Europe sent eight crusades against Islam, and the fanaticism and zealotry of the crusaders committed genocide on the men, women, and children in the city of Jerusalem in 1122 CE, as they massacred the entire population of the city until they stood knee deep in blood. And Muslim Saracens fought back, participating in the jihad against the armies of Christendom and imprisoning infidels in torturous dungeon prisons. Both patriarchal monotheisms tossed aside their God of mercy, compassion, and love and picked up the conquering sword of terror. Lords on each side led peasants blinded by self-righteous dogma and the promise of eternal paradise if killed on the battlefield to a bloodbath in the Holy Land.
And on the long and boring march to Constantinople crusaders purged and pillaged the resident Jewish and pagan heretics in their path. The Crusades broke the power of the Eastern Church at Constantinople, set the Balkans up for conquest by the Ottoman Turks, and eventually turned inward against the Muslim Moors in Spain and other religious minorities that smudged its glorious armor with the Reconquista and Inquisition. These horrifying tournaments of egotism left permanent scars in the relationship between Christianity and Islam, and the cross and crescent, as we continue to witness, still brutalize each other across the world and within the minds of believers.
Many watched and ignored the genocide of AmerIndians, the generations of black slavery and emancipated apartheid, the imperialist wars against the people of the Caribbean, Central America, and the Pacific Rim, and the two atomic bombs, napalm, Agent Orange, and now depleted uranium utilized to maximize collateral damage. Almost a thousand years ago, God blessed both Christians and Muslims to wield the almighty sword of righteousness and justice. God does not bless America, nor Iraq, nor Mars. God, or Goddess, or God/dess, blesses love, humility, integrity, generosity, and kindness in both thought and action.
George Bush called for a crusade against Muslim terrorists!
Poetry on Swans
Scott Orlovsky is a World History & Cultures, and an American History teacher at Clifton High School in New Jersey. He has a BA in History from the Johns Hopkins University and a MA in History from the University of Colorado. Orlovsky's writing has appeared in the Greenwich Village Gazette and he regularly contributes his columns to Swans.
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