Sunday, November 20, 2005

Inflammatory Fashion

I was at the Pennsylvania Gun Collectors Association gun show at the Monroeville ExpoMart this morning. My intention was to buy a watchband compass for about $3.50. One of the dealers was selling t-shirts, one of which was the standard military green with the word "Infidel", largely writ in both English and Arabic.

How stupid can you be? For one, it's like wearing a shirt that says "I'm a bigot" and walking around. Of course, since people of Middle-Eastern descent are currently hiding as best they can because of racist bastards, it's not taking much of a risk like wearing a Klan shirt into a black neighborhood would be.

I was tempted to walk up to the dealers modeling the shirts and say "So, what you're saying is that you are unfaithful to God."

That's what it means. "Unfaithful to God". But since the Muslims used it so extensively to refer to the marauding Crusaders, you think it's their word for anyone other than themselves. Other than Muslims.

But when the Muslims were in control of Jerusalem from 638 to 1099, they didn't refer to the Christians and Jews under their administration as infidels. They were most assuredly faithful to God. The same god. But the Crusaders behaved in a deplorable fashion. After looting and pillaging their way across Europe, the first thing the did after crossing the Bosporus was to have the ruler of Edessa overthrown and assassinated. Edessa was a Christian city. When they broke through the defenses of Antioch after an 8 month siege, the killed nearly everyone. Men, women, children. These are not the actions of one who is "faithful to God".

So, for the Crusaders, the Muslims used the word "infidel." It was wholly apt and well deserved. And they did not engage in reprisals against the Christians of Jerusalem. That came later at the hands of the Crusaders themselves when they "liberated" the city on July 15th, 1099 and proceeded to kill everyone they could find. Muslim, Jew and Eastern Orthadox Christian. "Indeed, if you had been there," wrote Fulcher of Chartres, "you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared."

I recall just after 9/11, George W. made a speech and used the word "Christendom", invoking the language of the Crusades. Thankfully, someone smart in the administration told him this was a bad idea and that language was only used for about a week. But it frightened me the same way that this t-shirt does. You'd think in a thousand years we'd have learned something.

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