Hey, The Crusades Weren't That Bad!

Santorum spreads the word. I must say it's refreshing for a pro-life fanatic to embrace a Christianity that endorsed mass murder. But, again, one wonders what world today's far right (which now runs the GOP) lives in. George W. Bush insisted that America was not engaged in a Christian war against Islam, but a democracy's war against terrorism and tyranny. And yet, even after the catastrophe in Iraq, the hard right has moved toward a war of civilizations rhetoric. Commentary's Jonathan S. Tobin is more than a little miffed:

Enflamed by hate-filled sermons, Crusaders massacred Jewish communities in Europe on their way to the Middle East and sacked and murdered some of the Christian communities they found in the Levant as well. The victory of the First Crusade culminated in the mass murder of all non-Christians in Jerusalem and brought to a temporary end the Jewish presence in the city. One can argue that their opponents were not exactly human-rights advocates either and that the crusading spirit can be traced in part to a drive to reclaim the Iberian Peninsula and other parts of Europe that had been overrun in the initial period of Muslim conquests in the first centuries after Islam’s birth. But the notion that the Crusaders were anything but an expression of violent religious extremism reflects an absurd lack of historical knowledge.

Santorum’s shaky grasp of history is bad enough, but by using the same speech in which he defended the Crusades to speak in praise of contemporary American military intervention in the Middle East, he has made a colossal blunder.... Unlike the Crusaders, who came to the region to slaughter Muslims and impose their religion on the survivors, Americans have come to fight the oppressors of Muslims and to facilitate their freedom, and so Santorum’s comments will be catnip to our enemies, who have wrongly tarred our soldiers with this label.