Obama Compares Crusades to Radical Islam, Part 1

At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., President Obama said the following:

Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ…In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

Cue my blood boiling. Few things get to me. In fact, my best friend once told me that he had never seen me angry, but Obama’s misrepresentation of not only the Crusades, but of the manifestation of racism out of Christianity burned my blood to vapor. His egregious misunderstanding is so wildly dangerous, yet is believed by so many. Because of this, I feel a deep need to take this mentally deficient piece of human garbage to task. Sorry, that was rude. Let me rephrase that. I feel a deep need to take this Marxist, Atheist egomaniac to task.

The Crusades. Ask anyone who was educated in our public school system to describe the Crusades, and 99.9% of the time, you will be treated to horror stories of how the Catholic Church ravaged peace-loving Muslim communities in order to enact a religious cleansing. What most people don’t know is that the Crusades were much more of a defensive measure, but more than that, they were part of a territorial war in which Christians fought Muslims, and Muslims fought Christians.

Historian, and Director of Saint Louis University’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Thomas F. Madden writes:

Despite modern laments about medieval colonialism, the crusade’s real purpose was to turn back Muslim conquests and restore formerly Christian lands to Christian control. The entire history of the crusades is one of Western reaction to Muslim advances…The warriors on both sides believed, and by the tenets of their respective religions were justified in believing, that they were doing God’s work…The truth is that the crusades had nothing to do with colonialism or unprovoked aggression. They were a desperate and largely unsuccessful attempt to defend against a powerful enemy.

According to Professor of Philosophy Phillip Blossar, in his review of God’s War: A New History of the Crusades, by Oxford historian Christopher Tyerson:

The Crusades are generally viewed today as the historical Western equivalent of the jihad – only, in this case, against Islam – a series of holy wars instigated by power-crazed popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are thought to have been the epitome of Western arrogance, self-righteousness, and intolerance – a shameful skeleton in the closet of the Catholic Church and the Western world. By their rampaging incursion into Palestine, Crusaders are supposed to have introduced proto-imperialist Western aggression and barbarism into the peaceful Middle East and debased the enlightened Islamic culture, leaving it in shambles.

Perhaps not all would go as far as Madden in describing the Crusades as defensive wars in direct response to Muslim aggression, but there is little question that the colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades were clearly attempts to meet the challenge of the Muslim conquests of Christian lands in the East…[Oxford historian Christopher] Tyerman thus seeks to avoid two common pitfalls of historical interpretation…The second is to presume direct causal connections between atrocities committed by Crusaders and terrorist acts committed by Muslim jihadists today…Tyerman does not excuse the Crusaders’ slaughter or exonerate Christendom for its sanctification of it; neither does he vilify medieval Christianity…

What these scholars are arguing is that the Crusades were much murkier than everyone seems to believe. Moreover, it wasn’t aggressive Christians attacking peaceful Muslims, it was a territorially defensive war, and very much related to holy lands designated by both faiths. Islamists had taken cities, and Christians took them back. There were excesses on both sides, as with any war, but the Crusades were not some Christian jihad cleansing, and are in no way comparable to the modern radical Islamist jihad we face today.

For Obama to compare the Crusades with radical Islam is simply irresponsible. Radical Islam is rooted in an interpretation of the Koran, which its adherents believe is the most correct way to view the text. This interpretation orders them to make war, and slaughter non-believers in the name of Allah, ultimately establishing a new caliphate. Regardless of the size of the community that adheres to this belief, they are the dominant, and–aside from few outliers–sole contributor to worldwide terrorism. They are merciless, and as we saw with the incineration of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, the very definition of evil.

Obama’s naive comparison boils down to one phrase: “in the name of.” Obama makes the connection between radical Islam, and the Crusades by invoking the phrase “in the name of,” which suggests that atrocities committed “in the name of” various faiths are always a co-option of faith, rather than coherent within them. This is incorrect.

Radical Islamists are committing atrocities directly because their faith commands them to do so. Those who, thought history, have done heinous things “in the name of Christ” were not following the teachings of the Christ, and the New Testament, but using it as a shield for behavior which ran contrary to those teachings. There is a stark difference.

Let’s say a parent teaches their child to love, and to respect those with whom he disagrees, and teaches him to proselytize to the fallen, but to do so without doing harm to those to whom he is preaching. If the child then murders another, and claims justification through his parent’s teaching, is he correct? Is it the fault of the parent? Or is the child simply using his parent as a hollow justification to do whatever he wants? There is no connection between what the parent taught, and what the child did. They are incongruous.

On the other hand, if a parent teaches anger and hatred toward other human beings—if a parent tells his child to slaughter those who do not believe and the child does just that—is he justified within the bounds of what he has been taught? Yes. In this case, the child has used the teaching of his parent to do harm to another. The teachings and the actions are congruent.

This is the difference between doing something “in the name of,” when what one is doing does not align with the teachings of one’s faith, and doing something because your holy book explicitly tells you to do it. There is a distinct difference, and to think otherwise is frighteningly naive. One cannot condemn Christianity because of what some did “in the name of” Christ. But we can condemn radical Islam because what its followers are doing is consistent with what their holy book teaches.

For Obama to suggest that we not get on our high horse because alleged Christians have committed atrocities is absurd, and completely irrelevant to modern terrorism. He is despicable for believing he can get away with such a claim.

In part two, I will further break down what Obama said, and discuss making reasonable comparisons.