In the news this week has been the disturbing reaction of Christian conservatives, particularly Republican officials, to Pres. Obama’s reference to the Crusades as an example of religious violence. Because history is a weapon in today’s world, this episode in history, which left between one and three million people dead, has become a litmus test for how much one loves Jesus and identifies with a particular brand of conservative Christian culture against all others. Here’s conservative former Sen. Rick Santorum justifying the Crusades:
The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom. They hate Christendom. They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.
Jonah Goldberg declared that the Crusades were defensive in nature.
Muslims conquered Jerusalem from the Christian East Roman (Byzantine) empire in 637 CE. (It had previously fallen to the Persians in 614, but had been regained.) The Crusades began in 1095, and the Crusaders retook Jerusalem in 1099—more than 450 years after the conquest! In chronological terms, it would be like Spain deciding today that it was finally time to revenge itself against England for the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
[Update: The claim that conservatives were citing the fall of Jerusalem as a justification for the Crusades, repeated in the Daily Beast article linked above, appears to originate with Slate journalist William Saletan, but after more research, I have not been able to confirm exactly how many conservatives specifically cited this. William Donohue of the Catholic League was one, and Jonah Golberg was another, both citing Bernard Lewis.]
This isn’t just a disturbing bit of Christian apologia but also symptomatic of the widespread revisionist history we see across the fringe spectrum as well. The Crusades made the careers of the Knights Templar, and we see in fringe history a similar justification of the Crusades as having a secret agenda that somehow excuses their barbarity. The Disinformation Guide to Ancient Aliens etc. attributes the Crusades to the Templars’ manipulation to recover the Ancient of Days. Similarly, Scott Wolter, as you remember, excused the Crusades as a conspiracy designed to get the Templars to Jerusalem to recover from the Temple Mount “technology,” “scrolls,” and other material that the Muslims somehow failed to find while building the Dome of the Rock. Wolter, like Santorum, similarly accused Islam of aggressive actions that resulted in the “proto-Templars” fleeing Spain for Arizona.
Speaking of Scott Wolter, over on his blog, our favorite forensic geologist expressed sympathy for the 9/11 Truth movement. When someone brought up a conspiracy theory that the Pentagon was not hit by a jet on September 11, 2001, Wolter, who worked on analyzing the Pentagon crash site after 9/11, rightly criticized this conspiracy theory before making some ill-considered remarks that suggest that he sympathizes with conspiracy theorists about the destruction of the World Trade Center: “I have no problem with people being skeptical about what happened on 9-11. I don't know all that happened at Ground Zero, but I do know what happened at the Pentagon.” Conspiracy theorists who share Wolter’s obsession with Freemasons have asserted that Al-Qaeda targeted the Twin Towers as representations of Freemasonry’s twin pillars, Jachin and Boaz, which in turn are implied in some Masonic texts to be related to the Pillars of Wisdom set up by Enoch before the Flood to preserve antediluvian knowledge.
It is perhaps interesting that Wolter sees no conspiracy where his reputation as a geologist would be directly impacted by such conspiracy theories, but remains open to questioning 9/11 events where he was not directly involved.
Wolter also told another visitor to his blog that he could not use the Hooked X® in a screenplay because (a) another company is already making a Hooked X® movie and (b) the Hooked X® is trademarked. The latter claim is false. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Wolter holds a trademark on the words “Hooked X” and that this trademark is limited to “publications, namely, books in the field of historical artifacts.” This wordmark does not cover the actual symbol of an X with a hook on the end of one stave, and I have a letter from the attorneys for A+E Networks, the parent of Wolter’s network overlords, confirming their agreement that the symbol, more properly called the variant-A rune, is in the public domain since it has been known since at least 1898.
It doesn’t really surprise me anymore when fringe history figures say weird things, but Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos surprised me by telling his Twitter followers that he believes that all organized religion is attributable to the influence of ancient astronauts.
I suppose that if one’s claim is that God is simply a mask for aliens that this would make some sort of sense, but it grants the aliens an enormous amount of influence over human behavior, particularly when huge swaths of modern religious expression can be traced to specific decisions made by known humans in historic times. I’d also be interested to hear Tsoukalos debate his mentor, Erich von Däniken, on whether Jesus was an alien. Tsoukalos may be open to the idea, but von Däniken has repeatedly stated that he does not believe that Jesus was a space alien.
I will wait with baited breath for their views on the how the Crusades were organized by competing factions of aliens as a proxy war to control Middle Eastern monoatomic gold reserves. Oh, wait: In 2002’s The Gods Were Astronauts, von Däniken implies (but never actually says) that the Crusaders recovered space alien secrets from the tombs of the patriarchs in the Holy Land and hid them away in the Vatican.
You might also find it interesting that Wolter and Tsoukalos have both blocked me from reading their tweets, as though the minor inconvenience of having to log out of Twitter before they become visible somehow will keep their feeds hidden from me.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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