Saturday, May 31, 2008

Celestial Junk = Historical Rubbish

Jews at Higueruela

One imagines that it must have required an extraordinary effort of some kind to write a post more comprehensively wrong in almost every single respect than the steaming pile of ahistorical bullshit offered up today by the paranoid, anti-Islamist kook at Celestial Junk. Purporting to edify readers as to precisely why Islam is such a pernicious threat to Western Civilization, Junky Paul delves into “Muslim and Christian foundations and beginnings” to examine how the origins of the world’s two leading monotheistic religions differently shaped their world view. Let’s have a look see what his intellectual skip-weaseling came up with, shall we?

Historically, Islam has persecuted non-Muslims each and every time it has held a plurality. Where Mulsims dominate(d), but did not persecute others, it was generally a result of colonial or dictatorial powers that held them in check. There are no exceptions. It is a fact which stands to this very day.

Wrong. Islam was the dominant religion in southern Spain for more than 700 hundred years, from 711 until 1492 under the rule of the Arabs and Moors of al-Andalus. During this period, also known as La Convivencia (“the Coexistence”), Jewish and Christian communities were tolerated and persisted throughout the era of Islamic rule. Granted, the tolerance included restrictions on building new Churches and Synagogues, and some discrimination regarding giving evidence against Muslims in judicial proceedings. In addition, the Christian and Jewish population had to pay a special tax (that Muslims did not pay), but in exchange non-Muslim males were not subject to mandatory military service. Also, there was a brief period of Christian persecution in the 8th century. Even so, compared to the horrific treatment of minorities in contemporary European kingdoms during that time period, the Muslims were generally much more tolerant of other faiths.

During the High Middle Ages in Europe, the fanaticism of the Catholic Church reached its highest levels with intense persecution of Jews, and tens of thousands were slaughtered by Crusaders and others. During the Crusades, which began about 1100 and lasted for nearly 200 years, Jews were killed during the beginning of each Crusade, being blamed that the Holy Land was not in Christian hands; the Crusaders rampaged through the Rhine and Danube River regions, massacring Jews because “why should we attack the (Muslim) unbelievers in the Holy Land and leave infidels in our midst undisturbed?” But there were also other reasons to kill Jews during the 14th century: disastrous harvests, severe famine, the Black Plaque of 1334-50; Jews were blamed for all of these. I could go on with other atrocities, but you get the idea...

Some historians believe the notion of La Convivencia — that some even misleading describe as a “golden age” — is false and might lead people to believe, wrongly, that Muslim Spain was tolerant by modern western standards. The true position is considerably more complicated. The distinguished historian Bernard Lewis wrote that the status of non-Muslims in Islamic Spain was a sort of second-class citizenship but conceded that: “Second-class citizenship, though second class, is a kind of citizenship. It involves some rights, though not all, and is surely better than no rights at all... A recognized status, albeit one of inferiority to the dominant group, which is established by law, recognized by tradition, and confirmed by popular assent, is not to be despised.” Regardless, this is certainly a far cry from what could be regarded as “persecution” by the relatively unenlightened standards of the Middle Ages.

Notwithstanding Paul’s ludicrous claim of there being “no exceptions” to his ironclad rule that Islam has persecuted non-Muslims from time immemorial, one might argue that La Convivencia is too historically problematic or is inapplicable for one reason or another, so let’s look at a more contemporary example, that being the country of Indonesia.

With a population of 222 million people, it’s the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. According to the 2000 census, almost 86% of Indonesians are Muslim with 11% of the population declared Christian, 2% Hindu, and 1% Buddhist. Indonesia is not a Muslim state, but a secular republic with a presidential system. Religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution (The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, Chapter XA, Article 28E). Some Christian groups in the west (supported by rabid anti-Islamist Michelle Malkin amongst others) argue that their religion is “persecuted” in Indonesia, but frequently this seems to be more a case of sectarian clashes with extremist Muslim groups and radical factions within the country than any deliberate policy of oppression carried out by the state.

Well, that’s one monumentally ignorant fallacy dealt with. As time and patience allow, we might look at Paul’s assertion that “Christianity is by and large a pacifist religion” and some of the other hilariously bogus crap being pedaled by this deeply kooky man.

Note: The illustration from the 15th century depicts Jewish soldiers fighting alongside the forces of Muhammed IX, Nasrid Sultan of Granada, at the Battle of Higueruela, 1431. Yes, the Jews were so “persecuted” that they fought on the side of the Muslims against the invading Catholic King John II of Castile.