Once again someone out there is trying to rehabilitate the crusades as entirely acceptable, this time I noticed it via Craig Carter who quotes Rodney Stark approvingly:
“the Crusades were precipitated by Islamic provocations: by centuries of bloody attempts to colonize the West and by sudden new attacks on Christian pilgrims and holy places.”
Well, it was nice of the religious and political hierarchy of Christian Europe to look up from their burning of witches, putting of Jews in ghettos, and holding of inquisitions for the Cathars just long enough to remove the mote of religious persecution from their neighbour’s eye. As far as “bloody attempts” to colonize the West are concerned, if step back further, the West under the guise of Rome and Greece colonized Western and Central Asia long before Mohammed’s armies got their start. Before them, Xerxes tried to colonize the West for Persia. So taken in the wide-angle view, this is just a part of the ongoing struggles between various groups for control of each other’s territory. To play a game of whether Central Asia or Europe started invading the other first is a bit silly. The crusades were a poorly conceived waste of blood and treasure in a Quixotic quest to control the Holy Land for the followers of one who promised the destruction of its holiest sites and who explicitly said that he wouldn’t always be worshipped in Jerusalem anyway.