Ah the Crusades, the Happy Days of Christendom. Okay not so much. But they did have some positive effects. For example, new ideas and technologies were brought to the West, trade increased, and European nation states began to grow rich and expand. What’s more, when the Islamic world turned out to be a brick wall, medieval craftsmen began to build ships that could sail around Africa and trade directly with peoples of the East. This would one day enable Christopher Columbus to accidentally discover the New World – and thus make it possible for you and me to exist!
But another interesting aspect of the Crusades involved precisely who went on them. There were really two kinds of crusaders: the saint and the criminal. The latter was the first to travel to the Holy Land while the former was sent to help bring some sanctity to the violence.
Confused? I’ll explain.
Many who responded to the call for Crusade were murders, thieves, thugs, and the like and the kings of Europe organized them into an army. Unfortunately many of them (and their kings) were overly interested in the riches to be gained from attacking Muslims – but some saw the Crusades as a chance to gain salvation (or at least a means to make reparation for theirs sins). Needless to say, their departure brought about a lowered crime rate in Europe!
The Crusades themselves, however, became a bloodbath in short order. Because of the brutal violence wrought by so many of the crusaders, the Church instituted the Jedi Knights of the Middle Ages. Okay they didn’t have lightsabers, but like the Jedi (as was revealed in the new Star Wars movies) the new order of monastic knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These knights never composed the bulk of the crusader armies, but they served to bring holiness to the battlefield – that is until an evil French emperor put many of them to death. I wonder if that makes the Emperor in Star Wars French…
Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering what all that has to do with the title of my post. Well it appears that Somalian men are disappearing across the Twin Cities area and have left to fight a holy war in their native land. No one knows who is funding their travels and what’s more, the FBI will neither confirm nor deny that an investigation is underway. What is known is that some of the men were rather religious but many more were your everyday thug or gang member. It kinda sounds like what happened in Western Europe during the Crusades. Boy, if only bin Laden had some indulgences to offer… I just hope and pray we can trace the monies back to their terrorist source and stop would-be terrorists from helping al Qaeda to continue their advance into Africa.
But speaking of Somalia, I think I’m going to watch Black Hawk Down now.