FGF E-Package
Samuel Francis Classics
July 17, 2008

Guilt Trip Over Crusades
by Sam Francis

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 Crusades.

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 around.

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.

SHOTS 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

To sponsor the FGF E-Package:
please send a tax-deductible donation to the
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
Vienna,VA 22183
or sponsor online.

© 2008 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation