Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A call against historical ignorance

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
- Edmund Burke

Luckily I don't really think we're condemned to repeat the past, otherwise we'd be going through a whole lot of awful things that should really be avoided (World War I, Barney the Dinosaur, etc...). I do think that a certain amount of historical knowledge is a good thing though.

On Christmas day I attended mass in Mississauga. Since the church was undergoing renovations the service was moved to a nearby Catholic high school, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Looking around I found the crosses painted on the walls reminded me vaguely of the Crusades but I assumed that it was just me. Then I saw the mural of armoured knights pictured above. At this point all I could think was "Are they really glorifying the Crusades?!?" It stopped being a question when I looked a little further along the wall and saw "CRUSADERS" painted in enormous letters.


I'm no historian but I've heard enough about the Crusades to know that they were known somewhat for their extreme cruelty. A quick look at Wikipedia shows that one of the key victories of the Crusades was the taking of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, that quick look also shows that the Crusader victory entailed the wholesale slaughter of the Jewish and Muslim population (women and children included of course). Even by the standards of the Middle Ages it was a horrific amount of violence. According to the Crusaders own chronicle "...[our men] were killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles...". Yikes.

For a school that almost certainly has students who are Muslim and possibly also Jewish, I can only hope that the historical education they receive is poor enough that they don't know what their school teams are representing. If the parents who send their children to this school were to know that in a few hundred years a Muslim school would name its athletic teams after Al Qaeda I'm sure they would be disgusted. Why should we not also be disgusted by the name Crusaders, glorifying those who slaughtered innocent civilians for being of the wrong religion?

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