One anniversary that’s not on this year’s calendar is
the 900th observance of the capture of Jerusalem by Christian crusaders
on July 15, 1099. As a matter of fact, it’s an anniversary that’s
probably never been on any year’s calendar, since virtually everyone
forgot about it sometime around the year 1600. But some never forget,
and they’re getting ready to do what 20th century man is supposed
to do, at least in the West: apologize for it.
The London Sunday Telegraph reported last month that a movement is
afoot among the Christian churches to apologize for the Crusades. The
Crusades, you will recall, were a kind of medieval equivalent of making
the world safe for democracy—in this case, Christianity—and
a good many Europeans took themselves off to the Middle East to carve
into confetti anyone who wasn’t as Christian as they were. In
the process, a good many Europeans got their behinds kicked by the
locals. Eventually the Crusades failed, and most people went home.
But as with most historical episodes (the Crusades went on for a couple
of hundred years), there were good things and bad things about them.
The good things included a more or less authentic desire to enlighten
the world with what the European Christians of the time deeply believed
was religious truth. The bad things included pillaging, conquering,
and massacring a lot of folks who never harmed the Crusaders. Nevertheless,
whatever the good or the bad, only idiots would consider apologizing
for them today.
But idiots, of course, is exactly what we’re dealing with, and
I for one would prefer the Crusaders. The Telegraph reports that on
July 15 this year a delegation of idiots from Europe and the United
States calling themselves the “Reconciliation Walk” plans
to go to Jerusalem and apologize to Muslim and Jewish leaders for the
They will wear T-shirts saying “I apologize” in Arabic
and distribute apologetic messages to Muslims on the streets. About
a thousand such apologizers have already worn out their welcomes in
the area by getting an early start on the guilt trip. Yet the Telegraph also reports that the Christian churches in Europe and the United States
are preparing a public expression of repentance for the Crusades.
There are several reasons these people are idiots, not the least of
which is that the historical memory of the Crusades has almost entirely
vanished today. Assuming the Crusades were wrong, no one feels the
wrong any more, nor can anyone seriously claim that all the wrong was
on the Christian European side. Apologizing for the Crusades is like
looking up a kid you stole candy from when you were in kindergarten
and telling him you’re sorry. He not only doesn’t remember
the theft; he doesn’t even remember you.
Some church leaders are arguing that there should be no apology from
Christians until Muslims also show remorse for the killing they carried
out themselves. The problem with that is that it’s moral equivalence.
If Christians knocked off a few Muslims in the siege of Jerusalem,
that’s no worse than the killing the Muslims themselves committed.
The problem with moral equivalence is that it assumes both sides are
wrong and does nothing to place ethical blame where it ought to lie.
From church leaders we have a right to expect more than this.
Yet right or wrong, the fact that modern Westerners can’t even
defend the Crusades as a manifestation of Western man and his civilization
tells us a good deal about what’s wrong with Western man today.
Western man no longer believes in himself or the civilization his ancestors
created, crusaded for, and died for. In place of believing in it and
defending it, our religious and political leaders are ashamed of it
and want to apologize for it—even for those parts no one remembers.
The Crusades certainly involved some inglorious and unheroic deeds,
not all of them committed against Muslims. Christians themselves were
often the victims, as in the sack of Constantinople in 1204. But if
the Crusades were not entirely right, a healthy civilization can still
recognize them as a necessary part in the adventure of our own people
in history. The importance of the Crusades is that they were one of
the first expressions of the process of heroic dynamism and expansion
that distinguishes our civilization from most others.
The same mentality that drove medieval warriors to wage war for the
cross in the Holy Land also drove Columbus to the New World and Americans
to the Moon. Without that spirit, the West—and America—will
shrivel and die and would never have existed at all. That, of course,
is exactly what the idiot party wants, and it’s exactly why they
deserve a good kick in the behind from the Crusaders still kicking
This article is excerpted from SHOTS FIRED: SAM FRANCIS ON AMERICA’S
CULTURE WAR (FGF Books, 2007. It was originally published by Creators
Syndicate on April 27, 1999.)
Back to Samuel Francis Classics archives
The Samuel Francis Classics are copyright © 2008
by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfbooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Political pundit Samuel Francis was an author
and syndicated columnist. A former deputy editorial page editor for
THE WASHINGTON TIMES, he received the Distinguished Writing Award
for Editorial Writing from the American Society of Newspaper Editors
in both 1989 and 1990.
FIRED: SAM FRANCIS ON AMERICA'S CULTURE WAR, a collection of some
of Mr. Francis' writing and speeches,
was published by FGF Books, a division of the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. See www.shotsfired.us
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