by Mark Glenn
May 10, 2003
Next to “junk science,” which claims that the earth is warming to the point that we will all be burned to a crisp within just a few years, the one thing that I hate most about the age in which we live, an age that renders little to no critical thinking as pertains important issues, is the area of “junk history.” There are, more so today than at any other time I think, a few things that invariably pop up in discussions that demonstrate how easy it is to sway a society’s thinking on a given topic with just a few well placed and misleading items repeated over and over again.
As someone who taught history for many years, I cannot describe how irritating it is to hear that Abraham Lincoln fought the “American Civil War” in order to free the slaves, that FDR saved this country from the Great Depression, that the first amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to publish pornography, and that “assault weapons” have been the greatest source of crime and violence in the US during the last century. And yet, it is easy to see how well-intentioned people, who have not yet grasped the extent to which they have surrendered to media and government types the ability to think for themselves, can buy into these notions. They are packaged very cleverly, with bits and pieces of information that are verifiably true. And let’s not forget to consider those mouthpieces doing the convincing-very impressive. All kinds of advanced degrees from this school or another, a book tour, a radio or tv show, you name it.
Although a little late in the debate, nothing exemplifies the topic of junk history better than the made-for-mass consumption notions concerning Islam and its relationship to the “Judeo-Christian West”, and the fact that since September 11, we in the US have been treated to a daily dose of propaganda surrounding this topic that has obviously led to momentous policies, in particular, the perpetual war in the Middle East.
From the beginning that “they,” the architects and authors of this junk history, decided that the Muslims were going to take the fall for the events on that day, (justly or not) we have been served a buffet of lies surrounding the religion of Islam and its history with the West. Not just out of government mouthpieces, but virtually the entire “conservative” talk show parade as well as almost every big-name Christian evangelist. Their message has been common and crude: The religion of Islam teaches hatred for all other faiths, most notably the Christian and Judaic. They point to history as proof of this, citing the “fury” with which the Muslims swept across the Mediterranean lands, forcing the conversion of Christians and Jews at the point of a sword. And now, these sirens maintain, they are attempting it again.
This is a theme over which I am constantly battling with the peoples in my circle. For the purposes of posterity I must reveal here that I am not a Muslim, but a conservative Catholic. By a conservative Catholic, I hold to the notion that there is only one faith, and therefore one would assume that it would be in my interest, given these leanings, to jump on that same religion bashing bandwagon that many of my co-religionists have. The problem is that it would be a lie for me to maintain such a notion, as much as it would be a lie for me to maintain that it is illegal to possess a bible in public school, due to the restraints placed on religion by the first amendment, a notion, like those presently spewed against Islam, that has been illicitly conceived and perpetrated for the purposes of misinforming the public in pursuit of another agenda.
According to the readings I have done, (and I have done more than a few) the facts concerning the Muslims are these.
1 Within the religion of Islam, Christians and Jews are not considered “infidels” as we have been led to believe. In fact, a cursory study of the Quran will reveal that Christians and Jews are referred to as “peoples of the book,” since we are all monotheistic and trace our roots back to Abraham. The term “infidels” is reserved for pagans, or those who do not believe in the One God.
2. Christians and Muslims were not “converted by the sword” as is commonly taught and believed. Christians and Jews were allowed to keep and practice their religion within those areas where the Muslims had gained hegemony. Indeed, it was in the interest of the various Muslim leaders and other secular authorities to keep it this way, since non-Muslims were taxed at a higher rate than Muslims. Obvious proof of this tolerance exists today in the fact that in many Islamic countries, including Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, there are millions of Christians, and who knows how many churches.
3. The conquest of Islam was not a conquest of religion, but, rather, was done in the same vein as many of the Crusades, i.e., a conquest initiated for the acquisition of territory and political power. In fact, many of the Arabs that fought within the Muslim armies in these wars of conquest were Christians and Jews.
4. The conquest of lands that had been Christian was not the blood-soaked struggle it has been taught to have been. Due to dynastic infighting within the Christian lands over who would rule, as well as problems involving the incompetence, high taxes and corruption within many of the Christian governments, the Christian subjects themselves many times welcomed the Muslim invaders who promised them lower and fairer taxes, more efficiency, and more stability.
5. Those particular passages of the Quran that deal negatively with the Christian religion deal specifically with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is due to the complete devotion to monotheism that the Muslims view the idea of 3 persons to be contradictory and unacceptable.
These items are not difficult to find. Get yourself a history book on the subject, and irrespective of the religious affiliation of the writer, (excepting those authors with the last names of Falwell, Swaggert, Graham, Wolfowitz, Perle, Limbaugh, Savage, or Sharon) the information will be about the same.
There are other items for my Christian friends to consider here as well.
* In many Muslim countries, it is illegal to profane the name of Jesus or of his Blessed Mother. Further, one should consider that in several countries within the Christian West, movies made depicting Jesus in a blasphemous way have been shut down because of the public outrage exhibited by, not the Christians, but the Muslims.
* The Muslims believe in the Virgin Conception of Christ and venerate his Blessed Mother more so than do most Christians, particularly those of the Protestant faiths.
* The Muslims believe in the miracles of Christ, including his raising of the dead, healing the sick and blind, and that he was the greatest of all Prophets.
* Mohammed, the founder of Islam, considered Christians to be the greatest of friends to the Muslims, for in his words, the Christians were “free from pride, and had priests and monks among them.”
There is enough evidence lying around that even the most barely educated among us should be able to see that this “Islamic hatred of everyone not Islamic” is a sham. The mouthpieces who claim this fail to consider (or reveal) many glaringly obvious pieces of evidence. They would like us to believe that there is something organic about Islam that makes it seek to dominate the “Judeo-Christian” West. So let’s just do a short run of some evidence that reveals this as a fallacy.
Firstly, there hasn’t been a war between the Muslims and the West for many centuries. Even more importantly, since it was in the US that the attacks of 9/11 happened, consider this: From 1776 until September 11, 2001, there were roughly 10 major wars that involved the US and a foreign power: The American War for Independence, The Quasi War, The War of 1812, The Mexican War, The Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.
Based on this short list, it looks to me like we were fighting Christian nations, (excepting Iraq, whom we attacked first,) and that we weren’t attacked by the Muslims once. True, there was this issue with pirates from Libya attacking American ships after 1776, but it was an issue of piracy, and not an attempt to forcibly convert the nascent American nation to the religion of Mohammed.
Many would say to these things, “So what? The war is over now, what good does it do us to hash over all this now?“ To which I would say
1. You’re a fool if you think that it is all over. It is just beginning, and
2. Even if it were all over, your reluctance to learn the truth, truth that would have prevented you and the rest of this nation from being conned by a bunch of propagandists is nothing more than an attempt to hide your willful ignorance, as well as an attempt to pretend that you had nothing to do with the prosecution of an illegal and imperialist war that has wrecked the lives of millions of people today, as well as millions more tomorrow.
So why do we hash over all this now?
Because what people believe leads to policies being enacted, and when people believe lies, as in the case of junk history, disastrous consequences can occur. The fact that we have attacked another nation that has not attacked us, destroyed its government and infrastructure, laid waste to its institutions, caused incalculable suffering to innocent men, women, and children, and that one of the pretenses offered in justifying this action was this non-existent war between Islam and the Christian West that began in the 7th century and has gone on ever since should indicate to everyone involved that there is great danger to be found in believing junk history, although, in this case, it would be better to categorize the current propaganda not as junk history, but rather as just plain garbage.
My advice to fellow Christians in the US would be this: Turn off Peter Jennings, Falwell, Robertson, Limbaugh, and Hannity, get yourself a few decent history books, and try thinking for yourself for a change.
Mark Glenn is an American of Lebanese descent and a conservative Catholic. He majored in History at the University of Cincinnati, minored in romance languages, and has taught in several high schools and seminaries, ranging in subjects as varied as American history, Western Civilization, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish and German. Mark lives in north Idaho where he teaches, and is “trying to make a difference in what is going on by writing.” He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org