Tags: For | Islam | the | Crusades | Are | Not | Over

For Islam, the Crusades Are Not Over

Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM

Years ago, it was common for Americans to chide the British for having no sense of humor. The ongoing joke was that there was a humor appreciation society in London that met every Monday to hear the latest jokes and then regathered a week later to laugh. Slow to get the point, don’t you see?

I’ve missed this particular point for 15 years, and it’s no joke.

In 1989 the Serbian government invited me to Serbia on a fact-finding mission. That was long before 9/11, long before anyone ever heard of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

They wanted Western journalists to hear the Serbian side of the conflict in Kosovo. I truly think I was the only one who wanted to go. This was also before anybody had heard of Kosovo. President Clinton’s NATO war against the Serbs because of their persecution of the Albanians in Kosovo came 10 years later.

The Serbs consider the southern province of Kosovo the very crucible of their nationhood by virtue of an epic battle fought there in 1389 against the Turks.

The Turks won that battle, but the Serbs made that victory so expensive for the Turks that the battle became their defining national moment, nonetheless.

The Serbs made such a bad case that I came back pro-Albanian. (And that should be a lesson to those snooty journalistic ethicists who fear that a free hotel room, a few free meals and a car and chauffer and constant guide-interpreter will necessarily sway a journalist’s opinion. Listen to my broadcasts from that era. The Serbs lost big with me.)

The Serbs started by telling me the Albanians were thugs, thieves, perverts, drug dealers, low-lifes and sadists who tortured their victims by jamming glass bottles up their rectums and breaking them off, leaving the top part of the bottle inside.

Indeed, there was a famous case - famous in Serbia, anyway - of a Serb named Martinovich, who allegedly got that awful treatment from his Albanian neighbors and was being treated in a London hospital, his lugubrious progress or lack thereof leading the news every day.

The Serbs accused the Albanians of trying to take over the province by guile. They said the Albanians would approach a Serbian farmer and make him an offer for his farm.

When the Serbian farmer declined, the Albanians would make another offer, one “he couldn’t refuse!” If he still didn’t agree to sell, a few of his animals would be found dead. If his refusal persisted, he and his family were next.

The Serbs took me to an open field in Kosovo where a widow, indeed, appeared by appointment and told such a tale. They then took me to a Serbian Orthodox convent in Kosovo and let me hear the testimony of the frightened nuns detailing all the threats from the surrounding Moslems.

As a cultural slam against the Albanians, admittedly an effective one, they then took me to a “kafeneya,” a huge coffee house in the capital of Pristina, in the mid-afternoon of a work day.

There were no fewer than 500 Albanian men AND NOT ONE SINGLE ALBANIAN WOMAN! The Albanian culture deploys the women to the fields to do the work while the men debate weightier topics over coffee and cigarettes.

Next they took me to a schoolyard where about 250 screaming children were playing. Knowing that I spoke a little Serbian, my government guide said: “Remember, this is Serbia. Go ahead. See how many of those children are Serbian.”

“Ko govori Srpski?” I yelled. (“Who speaks Serbian?”) Only about five of those children raised their hands.

Okay. The Albanians are taking over Kosovo. The Puerto Ricans took over east Harlem. The Jews took over Miami Beach. The Mexicans are taking over America’s Southwest. The Swedes are taking over lush areas in western Finland. So what?

So this!

At dinner in Kosovo a Serbian official, exasperated with my American even-handedness, eventually exploded.

“Don’t you see what’s going on here?” he fairly yelled. “For these Moslems - our Kosovo Albanians and their religious brothers from across the Middle East - THE CRUSADES NEVER ENDED.

“They are now trying to worm and weasel their way back into control of all Europe piece by piece, beginning right here in Serbian Kosovo.

“We are Christians,” said my Serbian host. “The rest of the West is supposed to be Christian, too. WHY IN HELL ARE YOU LETTING US FIGHT THIS FIGHT ALONE?“

I can only imagine how that wail loudened and sharpened during the Kosovo campaign, when it was no longer “Why are you letting us fight this alone?” but rather, “Why are you dropping bombs on us as a favor to our common enemy?”

At the time my answer to “Why aren’t you helping us?“ was something like “Because you’re being miserable to the Albanians and your claim that Albanian farm-grabbing represents another round of the Crusades is ludicrous.”

That was 15 years ago, 12 years before 9/11. Is it possible that those Serbian claims which alternately entertained me and enraged me merit serious review?

When our family moved from the American North to the South I was five years old. It didn’t take more than two years before the Southern-born boys my age began to work me over none-too-gently.

I learned I was a “Yankee” and there was a war which my side had won but didn’t deserve to. “We got so tired of beating you and beating you and beating you, we couldn’t fight anymore,” one of them told me.

And the boys who were weren’t beating me or teaching me angry history were standing around yelling, “The South shall rise again!”

I didn’t know what they were talking about.

My Northern cousins to this day don’t know what they were talking about. The winners in those things forget. The losers smolder.

Is is possible that the Islamic world remembers the anguish of being pushed out of Europe while the victorious Christians forgot all about it before the end of the 1400s?

Might that possibly explain the mysterious silence of so many tens of millions of peaceful, non-al-Qaida, non-jihadi Moslems regarding 9/11? (“Yes, it was terrible what Osama did to America, but perhaps it is just. The Crusades and our expulsion from our European lands must be avenged!”)

Forget that America was not yet discovered when Spain defeated the Moslems and was far from the important player when the Turkish Ottomans were defeated in 1918.

The leaders of the Christian West did it to the Moslems back then; so “logically” America, as the leader of the Christian West today, becomes the target for payback, at least to those who go in for that kind of logic!

Boxers and wrestlers can testify that their energy spikes in a fight when they see and feel their opponent weakening. Is it possible that this global Islamic uprising is energized by the sight of the galloping decadence of the West?

One mostly-nude blonde in a beer ad in Europe or America could easily convince those faithful to the ways of Islam that the once formidable “Crusaders” are finally on the ropes gasping for moral breath.

There’s no war as dangerous as one you had no idea you were in – even when angry Serbs with unclean hands try to tell you.


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Years ago, it was common for Americans to chide the British for having no sense of humor. The ongoing joke was that there was a humor appreciation society in London that met every Monday to hear the latest jokes and then regathered a week later to laugh. Slow to get...
Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM
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