Tag Archives: Crusades

Song Review: “We Will Fight the Heathens”

This is a guest post by a friend who hasn´t thought up a cool pen name yet.
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Song Review: “We Will Fight the Heathens”

I had heard the above-named song and I thought of Snarla’s website, and her theme. I thought a review of this song might be fitting. My thanks, Snarla.

And now to the song; I’m a long-time fan of this band, and I rate this song a success. The instrumentals, the beat, the double-edged vocals of Daren Malakien, the rasper and the sonneter, all in one man. And then there’s the lyrics.

They are poignant, they are evocative, they are good. Astride the music they paint a picture of the early crusades.

The lyrics feed our senses, give us what perhaps all good stories give: controversy.

I think the song can be enjoyed– was meant to be enjoyed– without screwing some weighty political tag to its context. We’ve heard that kind of thing before– shame on the Christians, shame on the Moslems, shame on the Jews. I think we’ve had our fill of this. After all, isn’t it that kind of thinking, that kind of blame-me bullshit, that created the strife that inspired the song in the first place? “–beliefs are the bullets of the wicked…”

The song is good and– just for fun– it makes you think. I won’t delve into specifics but rather let you savor that for yourself. Let you find out who the “Partisan Brother of War” is. Enjoy.

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Guess the Benighted Wasteland

State number one sports a former president on trial for war crimes. He claims he is innocent of all charges and that his acts of genocide were merely self-defense. He says his cause was “just and holy.” He says they were only defending themselves from perceived Muslim aggression.

No, it’s not the United States, despite the parallels. Ha ha! No American politician is going to go on trial for war crimes. No, it’s former Serb president Radovan Karadzic.

Former leader Radovan Karadzic has said the Serb cause in the Bosnian war was “just and holy” as he began his defence at his genocide trial at The Hague.

Mr Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serbs during the war in the 1990s, said there was a core group of Muslims in Bosnia – then and now – who wanted 100% power.

Mr Karadzic faces two charges of genocide – including the killing in Srebrenica of more than 7,000 men and boys – as well as nine other counts including murder, extermination, persecution and forced deportation.

Prosecutors say he orchestrated a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against Muslims and Croats in eastern Bosnia to create an ethnically pure Serbian state.

In his opening statement last October, prosecutor Alan Tieger said Mr Karadzic “harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to pursue his vision of an ethnically segregated Bosnia”.

Legislators in State number two have introduced a bill that would criminalize miscarriage of a pregnancy.

Says one lawmaker, “If he’s insinuating because I ran this bill, because I’m pro-life and anti abortion and I’m doing everything in my power to restrict abortions [here], then he’s absolutely correct.”

Perhaps the most troubling part of the bill is a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by so-called “reckless” behavior. Under the “reckless behavior” standard, an attorney only needs to show that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose the pregnancy. Under this law, if a woman drinks too much and has a miscarriage, she could face prosecution.

Many states have fetal homicide laws, most of which apply only in the third trimester. [This] bill, however, would apply through the entire duration of a woman’s pregnancy. Even common first trimester miscarriages could trigger a murder trial.

The bill does exempt from prosecution fetal deaths due to failure to follow medical advice, accept treatment, or refuse a cesarean section.

What could possibly go wrong?

Miscarriage occurs in about 15-20% of all recognized pregnancies, and usually occurs before the 13th week of pregnancy. The actual percentage of miscarriages is estimated to be as high as 50% of all pregnancies, since many miscarriages occur without the woman ever having known she was pregnant.

So what backwards, misogynist, woman-hating, gynophobic, phallocentric culture are we talking about? If you guessed Utah, you’re right.

rare photo of Utah women

Utahns compel their women to wear concealing garments, because their stern god commands them to. They wear flowing garments that cover them from neck to toes and fingers, leaving only the head exposed.

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More Recent Crusades Talk

I’m still reading up on the Crusades. With two hundred years of history and a cast of thousands, it’s bound to take a while to get a good handle on it. (There were more than 200 years of Crusades all together, but I’m only dealing with the ones to the Arab world).

It’s becoming clearer and clearer why the people of the Levant thought of the Crusaders as barbarians. And this is so at odds with how the western world views the Crusaders that it’s kind of funny.

Over here we’re used to thinking of the Crusaders as admirable hero types. People to emulate.

From Wikipedia:

A June 2, 1944 message to Allied troops before the Normandy landings, began with General Eisenhower stating, “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.” His later bestselling memoir was entitled Crusade in Europe.

[French General Henri Gourard] is remembered in the Levant primarily for this role, and for an attributed anecdote which portrays him as the epitome of Western triumphalism in the Middle East. After marching into Damascus in July 1920 to put down an anti-colonial rising, Gouraud is reputed have stood upon Saladin’s grave, kicked it and said: “The Crusades have ended now! Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”[3]

And there was also the Crusader 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer that the military stopped developing in 2002.

The Crusader self-propelled howitzer was being developed for the US Army as a replacement for the Paladin and the US Army requirement was expected to be for over 800 vehicles. In May 2002, the Crusader program was officially terminated by the Department of Defense because it was not considered sufficiently mobile or precise for the evolving security needs of the 21st century. In August 2002, United Defense received the formal termination which ends all further work on the program.

And whereas, predictably, I was able to find several high school sports teams in the US named the Crusaders, I also found a professional rugby team in England called the Saracens.

For earlier posts on the Crusades, see here and here.

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The Crusades – Crescent & The Cross

I recently watched this History Channel three-hour movie. Before I rented it I read a couple dozen reviews on Netflix. It was funny how many reviewers were angry that it showed the Crusaders in a bad light some of the time. They felt the program dwelt more on the Crusaders bad behavior than the Muslims’. I took that with a grain of salt, because having already read The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf, I was already familiar with the Arab view of the Crusades.

I disagree with those reviewers. While the Crusaders were portrayed in a worse light than we are used to, the program wasn’t kind to the Muslims. First of all, every actor portraying a Muslim character was unattractive. Call me superficial, but I think a subtle thing like that makes a difference. What was weird was that I kept seeing actors who looked like attractive Arab men to me, but then it would turn out they were portraying Crusaders or Christians.

I’m sure most people who watched this program were surprised to hear of the cannibalism that occurred that at Ma’arra (معرة النعمان) an incident that was sandwiched between the wholesale slaughter of Antioch and the wholesale slaughter of Jerusalem. I was surprised myself when I read about, in fact, it didn’t even sink in until the second time I read it.

From Wikipedia:

One of the crusader commanders wrote to Pope Urban II: “A terrible famine racked the army in Ma’arra, and placed it in the cruel necessity of feeding itself upon the bodies of the Saracens.”[citation needed]

Radulph of Caen, another chronicler, wrote: “In Ma’arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.”[1]

These events were also chronicled by Fulcher of Chartres, who wrote: “I shudder to tell that many of our people, harassed by the madness of excessive hunger, cut pieces from the buttocks of the Saracens already dead there, which they cooked, but when it was not yet roasted enough by the fire, they devoured it with savage mouth.”[2]

Many authors suggest that the crusaders’ behaviour was not really born of their hunger but fanatical belief that the Muslims were even lower than the animals.[citation needed] Amin Maalouf in his book The Crusades Through Arab Eyes points out the most crucial line for such belief among the Muslims: “Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens; they also ate dogs!” by Albert of Aix.

The portrayal of Saladin seemed like a bit of a hatchet job. They portrayed him as a hale and hearty man, when the Arab historians say he was frail, and they skip over everything that leads to his being thrust into leadership of Cairo after the former strongman is killed, because he (Saladin) is perceived as the weakest of the possible choices and therefore the least threat. Then they allude to how Saladin’s rivals and enemies kept fortuitously dying, as if Saladin as a young lad was the evil genius behind this. It was reminiscent of the famous Clinton death list (I don’t know if this is the most up-to-date version, but I know there’s already an Obama version circulating).

The Arabs realize that Saladin got a lot of lucky breaks. But when Frederick Barbarossa, King of Germany, the most powerful Christian king ever to embark on a Crusade and a huge threat to Saladin, drowned in a freak accident while fording a river, even the most ambitious spinmeister couldn’t find a way to pin it on Saladin.

Speaking of whether the program portrayed the Crusaders unfairly, I found it interesting that the scene of Saladin’s soldiers cutting off the heads of Templars and Hospitallers after the battle of Hattin and the scene of Richard I’s soldiers cutting off the heads of 2,000 hostage Muslim soldiers were almost identical.

Wikipedia:

On Monday, July 6, two days after the battle, the captured Templars and Hospitallers were given the opportunity to convert to Islam. According to Imad al-Din, only a few accepted, although those that did became devout Muslims.

The executions (one of only two executions of prisoners ordered by Saladin) were by beheading. In an act of solidarity, many of the captured crusaders wrongly claimed to be Templar knights, forcing Saladin’s men to behead them as well [7]. Saint Nicasius, a Knight Hospitaller venerated as a Christian martyr, is said to have been one of the victims.[8]

“Saladin ordered that they should be beheaded, choosing to have them dead rather than in prison. With him was a whole band of scholars and sufis and a certain number of devout men and ascetics, each begged to be allowed to kill one of them, and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais, the unbelievers showed black despair” – Imad ed-Din, Saladin’s Secretary [9]

That was in 1187. In 1191 (from Wikipedia):

Richard had kept 2,700 Muslim prisoners as hostages against Saladin fulfilling all the terms of the surrender of the lands around Acre. Philip, before leaving, had entrusted his prisoners to Conrad, but Richard forced him to hand them over to him. Richard feared his forces being bottled up in Acre, as he believed his campaign could not advance with the prisoners in train. He therefore ordered all the prisoners executed.

By beheading.

The program never even mentioned Saladin’s famous benevolence in sparing conquered people, which led to his eventual downfall.

You wouldn’t want this documentary be the only thing you know about the Crusades, but it does a pretty good job. After all, the Crusades in the Holy Land lasted almost two hundred years, and this was a three-hour program.

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