Greg Richards, of The American Thinker blog, has done an important service to balance and fairness by posting the November 20, 2006 article: "Primer on Islamic Imperialism."
He begins with a key observation:
One of the alleged sins held against the West by Islamic radicalism – which has declared war on us through Osama bin Laden’s fatwa issued in 1998 in London – is imperialism: the imperialism of the Dutch, the British and the French from the 17th to the 20th centuries. (For some reason, Russian imperialism in Central Asia gets a pass – so far.) Israel is allegedly an outpost of European imperialism.
The original western imperial enterprise in the radical Islamic narrative was the Crusades . . . [Link added]
But, there are a few little problems with that ever-so appealing post-colonialist narrative: especially, imbalance and inaccuracy.
[In particular, a more accurate and more balanced view of Modern Israel would be to see it -- for all the undeniable sins of Israel -- as on balance the achievements of a nationalist movement that led a successful liberation struggle against both European and Arab/Muslim imperial power, joined to an even more successful land restoration and redevelopment programme that has gone on for over 100 years. It would also be helpful to pause and correct several pernicious, and indeed even propagandistic myths. As a mind-opener, just in case you are now rapidly heating up under the collar, can you tell us the significance of the names Chaim Weizmann and Feisal Hussein, and the date 1919? If you cannot, you do not know enough to comment in an informed, balanced way on the just linked and described. Similarly, you might wish to look at this summary on the Jihads and the crusades by the well-known Professor Bernard Lewis, and at his famous article on The Roots of Muslim rage.]
As Richards immediately continues:
The First Crusade began in 1095. The Crusades were undertaken to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom. Reclaim it from whom? From the Muslims.
But Mohammed died in Medina in 632 as ruler of the Hijaz, the northwest section of Arabia along the Red Sea which includes the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. But if they only controlled the Hijaz in 632, what were the Muslims doing in Jerusalem in 1100?
Of course, they were there by conquest! They were they by virtue of Islamic imperialism – the extension of the Land of Islam (Dar al-Islam) by holy war: jihad (notwithstanding the other meanings of this term).
Thus, Richards introduces us to a forgotten corner of history, the first two major waves of Islamist imperialism, from 622 [the date of Mohammed's flight to Medina, at which time he acquired the means of military conquest and began his wars with the pagan, Christian and Jewish Arabs that culminated in the conquest of Mecca in 630] to the 700s, then again under the Turks from the 1400s to 1683.
But, when the last siege of Vienna was lifted in 1683, and on to the post-World War I disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the placing of much of the Arab heartlands under the tutelage of League of Nations Mandates in the 1920's - 40's, Muslim arms went into a major period of decline. The several humiliating defeats at the hands of Israel seemed to underscore just how steep that decline was.
But, from the time when the Americans backed the Mujaheddin of Afghanistan leading to the withdrawal of the USSR from that country, then onward to the collapse of the Soviet Union [which in Islamist eyes they achieved], there has been a resurgence of Islamist militarism and conquest, aptly captured in the Muslim Brotherhood's 100-year programme for global subjugation. And now, of course, through the various suicide bombings, insurgencies, civilian-targetting rocket campaigns and supportive propaganda, there is a sense of elation among extremist Muslims today, as they see the 100 year programme of global subjugation unfolding.
But, there is a telling, politically incorrect Caribbean saying on the unwisdom of swapping a dog for a monkey as one's lord and master. That brings us to a sobering need to evaluate alternatives on a fair comparative basis.
Thus, Richards continues:
It is pointless to compare human enterprise to some abstract ideal that has never existed. As Sowell points out, if the standard is set high enough, anything will fail.
Was the British Empire – the archetype of Western imperialism – a bad thing?
As compared to what? As compared to the Muslim Empires? As compared to them, the British Empire was a model of enlightenment. The Muslims pride themselves on their tolerance of minorities. But that tolerance came at the cost of dhimmitude – second-class citizenship and payment of tributes. The British Empire was, yes, established by force, but it was not sustained only by force. It was also sustained by consent. And it left behind a number of the freest, richest, most liberal countries on earth. As compared to the Muslims, the British look pretty good.
But it is not the point of this article that Arab/Muslim imperialism was an evil, or at least was not a unique evil. It was a human enterprise with its strengths and weaknesses. Muslim culture at its highest was high indeed . . . . But so are our own. Today. We can’t have a double standard here – being impressed by the achievements and conquests of Arab/Muslim civilization but at the same time embarrassed by the even more impressive achievements and conquests of the West. If conquest is something to be embarrassed by, if it is a moral disqualification, then the Arab/Muslims are at the head of the line; Europe is well back on the list! And whatever the achievements of medieval Muslim culture, and they were many, they are in the past. There are few achievements today, and none to compare with those of the West.
Worth a thought or two indeed.
So, in the face of such a tidal wave from the east [as well as the tidal wave of decristianisation from the North] we here in the Caribbean have now got to think for ourselves and act in our own best interests. And, we the Christians of the Caribbean need to awaken to the force of the Back to Jerusalem vision.
For: if not now, then when? If not here, then where? If not us, then who? END