One of the most popular genres of fiction on the right-wing is the alternative history. I say this with complete confidence, judging both by the popularity of David Barton and the reactions that President Obama has received as a result of his (accurate) claim of the brutality committed in the name of Christianity.
As far as alternative history goes, I’ll take Turtledove over Barton. Turtledove’s AH’s are more believable, especially his ones concerning Atlantis.
Ever since President Obama made his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast — stating “that during the crusades and inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ” — the right-wing have been flipping their collective lid. As a result, they’ve rushed to defend the cannibals of Ma’arra and the people who exterminated almost every Muslim and Jewish man, woman, and child in Jerusalem when they successfully took the city after the end of the first crusade.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, President Obama went back too far. I don’t even have to go back a year to find an atrocity committed in the name of Christ — the Central African Republic is chock full of almost as many Christian atrocities as it is Muslim corpses that are the results of those atrocities. What’s happening in CAR is a literal genocide being orchestrated in the name of Christ. I don’t even have to turn the clock back that far in Europe to find an evidence: leaving off specific examples of right-wing terrorists like Anders Brevik, the former Bosnian Serbs would like to remind you that they don’t like Bosnian Muslims, and they’d like to do it by orchestrating one of the worst genocides in European history. Then there’s Timothy McVeigh in the United States, who’s terrorism was unsurpassed until Al Qaeda got “lucky” on 11 September, 2001, and managed to “win” the undeclared War on Terror in a single fell swoop — in as much as one can “win” a variation of the centipede game played with live grenades instead of coins.
While I’m discussing game theory, let me introduce you to the concept of Zero-Sum Morality, since this is the framing device that right-wing Christians use whenever they discuss Islam. They claim that Islam is the absolutely worst. A good example of this is this crank in the video below, who “mapped” the expansion of Islam:
This video comes to me via the “Tea Party News Network,” since they posted it on their Facebook page. I got it from Blessing.Buzz.
Never mind that you can argue the Byzantine Empire is not “classical civilization,” and that Alexander’s Greece and Caesar’s Rome were both long gone by the time Muhammad got around to drafting up the first edition of the Koran: this video is nonsense out of the gate. One, “Islam” is not, and never has been, a monolithic entity. There never was a “navy of Islam.” The Sunni/Shiite divide is one of the reasons why the Middle East is the disaster it is. The Sufis, meanwhile, camp out on the fringes; nobody ever remembers they exist. The Wahhabists are Sunni terrorists funders — oh, and they also run Saudi Arabia, one of our biggest “allies,” who Dubya pal’ed around with.
He’s also wrong when he says his map shows the battles of the Crusades. He never says which one (there were 12), he maps no battles in Europe, despite there having been a few crusades in Europe, and he doesn’t map any naval battles at all. If that’s not an example of cherry picking, I’m not sure what is.
Second, I’m sure that I could produce a similar map of all the attacks that were orchestrated by . . . any body politic on any other body politic, really. So what if Muslims sometimes spread their faith by sword? American slave masters did it by whip and chain. Europe’s history is drenched in the blood of Christian versus Christian conflict. The Holocaust didn’t happen in a vacuum; there’s a long standing tradition of Christian Antisemitism in Europe. It doesn’t make Muslims any better or worse than any other group in history.
And that’s at the heart of Obama’s message, and that’s why I invoked “zero-sum Morality.” To the regressives, morality is zero-sum. You either have all the morality or you have none of it, and if you don’t have any of it, then you’re a bad person who does bad things. And because they don’t want to be bad people, they have to work extra hard to revise history so it matches what they feel it should say, to make themselves look good. Obama’s message, meanwhile, was that every group in history has carried out atrocities, and that we should not “get on our high horse” in assuming our group is unique in that regard.
Unfortunately, some people not only got on their high horse, but from the moment they were born, they’ve never been off.