Dear liberals: Please stop trying to save President Obama from the idiotic remarks he made about the Crusades and moral equivalence at the National Prayer Breakfast.
The Republican governor of Louisiana put it quite nicely in his response:
“It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast,” said Bobby Jindal. “Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today.”
On the other hand, hearing liberals defend Obama is annoying, and those who are doing so should know this: you’re making fools of yourselves over something you should let go. He was wrong – absolutely, completely, and dangerously wrong. He casually and callously insulted Christians in a lazy attempt to reinforce his ideological blindness to Islamist terror. He once again tried to position himself, and his bankrupt ideology of a morally superior State, above all the religions of the world – lumping the one that did the Crusades a thousand years ago into the same basket as the one cited for authorizing the burning alive of a man in a cage last week. (When I say Obama’s ideology is bankrupt, I mean that quite literally.)
He made the kind of lazy, historically ignorant argument that would have gotten him kicked off the debate team at a decent high school. As the New York Times reported, the comment was basically an ad-lib Obama threw in at the last minute. There’s nothing worth defending here, loyal Obama worshipers. You’re tending barren ground and hoping for flowers to bloom because your man’s shadow once fell there.
One of the really annoying things about Obama’s thoughtless remarks is that he gave marching orders to an army of online pinheads to start nattering about the Crusades and the Inquisition again. Left-wing Twitter solons are depositing 140-character effusions claiming that the horrors of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the army of “lone wolves” wreaking havoc around the world in their name are perfectly balanced out by that one guy who shot up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin two years ago. Sensible people are wasting valuable time explaining to sweaty Obama supporters that the Westboro Baptist Church, as objectionable as they might be, has not tortured or murdered anyone, much less seized territory through military conquest and set up a theocracy.
Also, Obama apologists would do well to pause and consider that the response of contemporary Christians to the occasional crime or outrageous statement made in the name of their faith undermines Obama’s flaccid argument, rather than bolstering it. You folks are on much better ground babbling about 12th-century history you’re only dimly aware of. Unfortunately, even that ground is quicksand. The worst thing you can do when you step into quicksand is thrash around blindly. Let this one go, kids. It was an incredible blunder on Obama’s part, an outrage you can only save him from by hoping that more sensible people forget he said it.
Of course, Obama’s remaining supporters lack the capacity for such restraint or reflection, and they went nuts when Jindal reminded us that the threat from medieval Christian knights was pretty much under control, so it would be nice if Obama would focus on the monsters who are crucifying people, burning them alive, burying them alive, and taking slaves right now.
Jindal’s comments were fighting words to the bent-pinky set, so we’re now we’re getting tortured screeds asserting that Obama’s critics are wrong to “defend” the Crusades by recalling their history with accuracy. As they have done so often before, liberal op-ed writers are concocting elaborate theories of what Obama “really meant,” detecting all sorts of studied critiques floating beneath the blunt stupidity and bigotry of his actual words.
Most amusingly, some of the people who respond to atrocities like the Charlie Hebdo massacre by musing that maybe the Islamists have a point, and free speech should be restrained by a Heckler’s Veto to avoid offending the many and delicate sensibilities of Muslims, are trying to cover for Obama by calling Christians thin-skinned for taking offense to his Crusade and Inquisition slander. C’mon, folks, all he did was insinuate that you’re permanently guilty, for the rest of eternity, for what European knights did in the 13th century. He told you to get off your “high horse” and stop criticizing Islam’s violent tendencies, because who knows – you Christians could all come boiling out of your bake sales tomorrow and launch a new Crusade or something. What are you being so touchy about?
Obama’s speech is actually yet another illustration of the double standard: mocking, impugning, insulting, and hectoring Christians and Jews is totally fine, because everything they do about it is verbal. Let’s see Obama get up in front of a Muslim audience and lecture them about the Islamic aggression that actually began the Crusades. He’d never dream of doing that in a million years, but he’s happy to casually throw in a couple of lines in a speech to the National Prayer Breakfast hectoring Christians. He’d never dream of discussing the way modern slavers like ISIS and Boko Haram are citing Islamic verse right this minute to justify slavery, and he’s not even slightly interested in discussing the immense contribution Christian faith made to ending the slave trade in the West, but he’s happy to score a cheap shot against Christians by dragging out Jim Crow for the zillionth time, while conveniently forgetting to mention what they did to end slavery and discrimination.
To their shame, liberals like Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine are still trying to prop Obama up. Chait’s still trying to sell Obama’s stale talking point that he’s the brilliant Man in the Middle who says provocative things that make both sides angry, so he must be doing something right – as if the most radically left-wing President in modern history really thinks “government can overreach.” Yes, Chait actually says that:
Barack Obama’s method of persuasion involves conceding his opponent’s most justified grievances in order to locate common ground. When Obama does this with Republicans, by acknowledging that government can overreach, he irritates liberals. When he does this in the context of acknowledging American historical failures to other countries whose behavioral improvements he is urging, he angers Republicans, who depict him as an unpatriotic apologist. That vein of resentment has taken on religious overtones, as Obama appeared before a National Prayer Breakfast and, in the service of denouncing Islamic extremism, acknowledged that Christians, too, have historically been capable of using religion to justify extremism and violence.
“Lest 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,” Obama said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Obama’s point, as I understand it, is that the prevalence of Islamic extremism does not reflect a tendency of violence inherent in the Muslim religion, but rather specific historical, economic, and social conditions in the Muslim world today. This argument places Obama in strong opposition to elements of the left, which often embraces a form of relativism that refuses to acknowledge the disproportionately violent quality of Muslim extremism today.
See what I mean about inventing a phantom speech that’s much less stupid than what Obama actually said? Chait argues the President was trying to make some sophisticated point about how Muslims are not all inclined to violence – possibly the most worn-out, understuffed straw man in the entire rhetorical arsenal, a banal observation that lightweights think makes them look smarter than the imaginary hordes of reactionary bigots who believe every single Muslim in the world is a potential terrorist.
Chait also thinks Obama made his silly comments about the Crusades and Inquisition as a rebuke to atheist liberals, because what Obama Really Meant was that all religions are roughly equally violent, including Islam. Newsflash, Mr. Chait: Barack Obama’s entire foreign policy, his every public utterance, is based on “refusing to acknowledge the disproportionately violent quality of Muslim extremism today.” He never tires of claiming that none of the violent types are actually Islamic, and none of their deeds has anything to do with the Muslim faith, no matter how often the head-choppers quote Koranic verses. It’s the first thing he says after every fresh head rolls.
In fact, Obama has actually asserted that Muslims are less likely to commit violence than anyone else. “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own,” the President declared after the beheading of hostage Peter Kassig, using the Muslim name Kassig adopted after he converted to Islam in captivity.
And yet, no matter how hard the likes of Jonathan Chait refuse to hear it, Obama expressly describes the Crusades and Inquisition as immoral real estate owned wholly and completely by Christians – not even just the specific branch of Christianity directly involved with them, but all Christians, everywhere – and the lease still hasn’t expired centuries later.
Most sensible people are laughing at these tools for going back 500 to 1,000 years and looking for something they think is roughly equivalent to what al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, and the rest of that crew are doing today, because it makes them look ridiculous, and it disproves the argument they’re trying to make. Chait even comes close to acknowledging that by admitting that “at one historical time, Christian extremism posed a far larger problem than Muslim extremism,” but “at the present time, the reverse is true.”
Gee, that seems kinda relevant, don’t you think, Mr. Chait? A little tidbit of information that makes the entire rest of your argument collapse into a pile of dust? We might venture to guess that Christianity has changed in rather significant ways since those ancient times, while Islam hasn’t changed enough, might we not? I can bury you under evidence for the latter part of that proposition; what have you got to dispute the former?
There we have the essential point of this dispute, and the reason why decent people should be angry at Obama and his defenders, not laughing at their foolishness: they don’t think Christianity has changed. The only way their argument makes a lick of sense is that modern Christians remain interested in Crusades and Inquisitions, or at least sympathetic to them. Chait actually makes the latter argument when he idiotically asserts that people who insist on accurately recounting the history of the Crusades are “right wing American Christian chauvinists” who are out to “defend” them. Apparently liberals think accurate history is chauvinistic, and remembering events properly connotes approval, while all Good People prefer to believe in false narratives and history butchered down to easily digested Tweet-friendly memes like “innocent peaceful Muslims minding their own business when evil Crusaders attack for no reason.”
Another thing liberals don’t understand, because they’re so eager to revise history to fit their ideological narratives, is that recounting historical events with some degree of sympathy in context doesn’t mean you approve of them today. The Crusades were as horrible as any other medieval war. A historian who explains how they were launched in response to Muslim aggression is not calling for a medieval war today. Such a historian is not saying that he, personally, would launch the Crusades right now. But that’s the assertion made by linking the Crusades to modern Christianity as a reason for Christians to get off their “high horse” and stop expressing concerns about modern Islam’s violent tendencies.
No matter how hard Obama apologists try to dance around this point, the one and only reason to bring up the Crusades and Inquisition, in a discussion of current events involving Muslims, is to assert that Christianity today is really no different than Christianity then. The only faith that really “evolves,” ever, is Obama’s Religion of the State. That’s why he threw Jim Crow in there – modern leftists never want to acknowledge the role Christian faith played in the civil-rights movement. They want to claim it as entirely an achievement of their secular ideology.
“I know that crusading fervor isn’t essential to the Christian religion; it is historically contingent, and the crusading moment in Christian history came and, after two hundred years or so, went,” writes Michael Walzer in a piece Chait cites as “entirely brilliant” and floats as a phantom of inspiration for What Obama Really Meant. “Saladin helped bring it to an end, but it would have ended on its own. I know that many Christians opposed the Crusades; today we would call them Christian ‘moderates.'”
No, you colossal fools, today we would call them “normal Christians.” There is no pro-Crusades wing eager to saddle up and conquer the Middle East. There is no comparison to be made between Christianity in 2015 and the mix of politics and religion in 1215. Once that point is conceded, everything else from Barack Obama’s offensive attempt at moral equivalence before the National Prayer Breakfast evaporates into meaningless hot air.
Chait ends his pompous article by explicitly insulting Bobby Jindal as a medieval Christian, a Crusader wannabe: “In a prepared statement, Jindal rebukes Obama, ‘The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President.’ It’s true – as long as Jindal is out of the White House.” It’s still true even if Bobby Jindal is in the White House, you bigot.
One other thing about this idiocy from Obama and his dead-enders… There is one group of people in the world conspicuously noted for claiming that Christians remain incipient Crusaders: the enemy we’re fighting. ISIS, al-Qaeda, and all the rest of them prattle on endlessly about the Crusades, and how the Western world is still run by Crusaders. They did it again just yesterday, in the statement where they claimed American hostage Kayla Jean Mueller was killed in a Jordanian airstrike: “The criminal Crusader coalition aircraft bombarded a site outside the city of Raqqa today at noon while the people were performing the Friday prayer.” What Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast is very close to reciting enemy propaganda. The last thing the world needs right now is high-ranking Western officials agreeing with ISIS that the Crusades still offer relevant insights into the Christian mind.