Islamic Crusade

I'm reading a book, "India: A History." The chapter on the Arabian invasion and conquest (by people reportedly from an area called, "Arabia", Nadir!) includes an overview of the Islamic Empire:

"The urgency with which the followers of the Prophet carried his teachings out of Arabia (!) resulted in one of the campainging wonders off world history. Within twenty years of his death in 632, Arab forces had overrun much of tghe Byzantine empire (white folks!) in Syria (Arabs!) and Egypt (Africans!), and all of the Sassanid empire in Iran (Persians!) and Iraq (more Arabs!). Forty years later, with the addition of North Africa (more Africans!), Spain (honkies!), most of Afganistan (more non-honkies), and vast areas of central Asia (Asians!), Alexander had been upstaged, Caesar overshadowed."

I haven't read about slavery yet (non-whites enslaving both non-whites... and even some whites!), but I have read about "ravaging India's norther cities", "the idolaters were sore afflicted" and "easily routed". "The carnage endured for three days" " the temple was demolished and the priests were massacred." And I love this phrase, written by a muslim recording a battle: "the idolators fled and the Mussulmans glutted themselves with massacre." Acts of bestiality abound. One execution is as cruel as it is novel: sewing a live man inside a hide, where he resides for about two days until he dies of very slow suffication.

You'd almost think that all peoples on earth have equally cruel histories as both victims and perpetraters. Before we feel too sorry for the Indians getting so awefully conquered by the Arabs, let's remember that before the Arabian arrival, India consisted of a region roughly as large as Europe, with about as many nations and kingdoms cruelly conquering each other.


Tom Philpott said...

Only romantic and ignorant leftists--which I have no doubt exist in abundance--believe in an Edenic past upset by evil white conquerers. History teaches no easy lessons. I think what the great Gibbon said about the history of religion applies to history in general: "The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon Earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings."

Paul Hue said...

Then I must have been a "romantic and ignorant leftist." And indeed I was.

I will try to keep in mind that you already possess all those revelations that conspired to move me from the leftist camp. Why, then (as one of many examples I could cite), are you so upset by such things as the "artificial" boundries "imposed by outsiders" in Arabia and Africa, which unify historical enemies and seperate racial groups, when that description applies to every national boundry on earth today and in the past?

Why are you so especially outraged by the conquering conduct of Europeans, but not of Africans, Asians, and Arabians?

Tom Philpott said...

If I had been spending a day writing an article--and procrastinating by posting on this blog--in the 13th century, I hope I would have been denouncing the injustices I saw going on. That Arabs once conquered huge swaths of the globe doesn't make me want to conquer them now. I look at the past and see a graveyard of failed empires, whose rulers behaved with much the same hubris, arrogance, and expansionist dreams we see now from Cheney, et al. This makes me cringe, not cheer. The hope for "eternal U.S. supremacy" which certain neocons seem to cling to seems childish or even idiotic. Let's try something different.

Paul Hue said...

Tom: I'm glad that you're among the 100% of people who know about Pan Arabia, but for whom this does not serve as inspiration for a counter-conquest today. Nobody wants to conquer Arabia except one group: the islamicists.

Bush and Cheney don't want to conquer them; they want to push history forward to a point where the people there rule their own lives, instead of having dictators rule them into the ground, inspiring violent vitriol against "outsiders", as a substitute for aquiring prosperity and security via sensible economic policies and productive, creative work.

So why are you only able to denouce the actions of US leaders? How is it you blame all misconduct by third world nations on recent historical misconcuct by westerners? Since you agree that agreivous conduct is the typical state of affairs for humans, why do you probe history for excuses for Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe, but not for Thomas Jefferson and Christopher Columbus?

Of all the humans on earth (and even in the Americas) that were conquering, raping, and massacering in 1492, why do you only have consternation for CC? And of all the outrageous affronts to human dignity on the earth (including slavery) in 1776, why is it that for you and Nadir Thomas Jefferson gets special scorn, but you apparently have none for the countless African slave owners, kidnapers, rapers, and murderers? How can you guys not be eternally and enthusiastically grateful to have been born in a nation living under the direction of the document wrote by TJ? That document laid the blueprint for such radical advances as racial and sexual equality. Does this slaver owner -- of all the houndreds of thousans on the earth at that time, of various colors -- deserve some special applause for advancing humankind forward?

What a shame that little girl Ashante thinks so low of her home country, its founders, and a portion of her ancestors, when in fact she enjoys so much freedom and opportunity and privilidge that millions around the world strive to move her with no home, job, or money waiting for them. She's got as much anger in her as Frederick Douglas, but at what?

You claim to already know all this stuff, yet even you can only muster anger for, essentially, your own imperfect parents and family. Meanwhile the world out there is mean and horrid.