Normally, I don’t really pay much attention to the links that Google News sends me that appear to be legitimate history when I’m writing posts for my blog; I’m usually drawn instead to stories with flashy titles like “Stag nights are awful – just ask the medieval strippers of Tallinn”. But this article on the 1565 Siege of Malta‘s title gave me pause: The Victory of September 11, 1565.
As I write this, it’s only an hour into September 11, 2006,* and there are already four articles indexed by Google News combining the word ‘medieval’ with retrospectives on September 11, 2001. The others refer to Osama the “medieval fanatic,” “ethnic traditions we find strange and medieval,”** and “the medieval, convert-or-die jihad mandate of world domination.”*** This is not an auspicious start to the day, but I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve blogged in the past about how the word medieval is an easy euphemism for ‘bad, in a Muslim way.’
The Siege of Malta article is written in such a way as to make it impossible to imagine anyone delivering it other than a smoking-jacket-wearing British-accented historian seated in (a sound stage made up to look like) an opulent Victorian library where all the books are bound in gilt-lettered leather.**** It has the voice of high pop history, wherein various proud groups buy things at steep prices and abstract entities like Christendom get gynopomorphized. In a nutshell, the Knights of Malta, against all odds, beat back the Muslim Turks 426 years before the Twin Towers fell. Like all grand Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire-type history, the article ends with a moral:
On this day, when we remember the act of treachery and malevolence that finally made manifest to us this war, it is foolish to abstract it from its historical context. It is foolish to remember New York, September 11, 2001, and never once think about Vienna, September 11, 1689, or Malta, September 11, 1565; or even Constantinople, May 29, 1453 or Tours, October 7, 732. We might as well talk obsessively about Normandy and say nothing of Pearl Harbor or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. We might as well fix our attention on Gettysburg and cultivate perfect innocence of Ft. Sumter or First Manassas.
And it’s at this point that my normal narrative style fails me. It’s hard to joke after reading an article that both praises Crusaders and condemns the religiously-motivated wars of the Muslims without recognition or irony. So all I can do is check my dates and provide this handy comparison chart:
|Twin Towers — Sept 11, 2001||Fall of Constantinople — May 29, 1453||Battle of Tours***** — Oct 10, 732|
|Normandy — June 6th, 1944||Pearl Harbor — Dec 7, 1941||Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact — Aug 23, 1939|
|Gettysburg — July 1, 1863||Fort Sumter — Apr 12, 1861||First Manassas — July 21, 1861|
Clearly, the Fall of Constantinople played as great a role in our current Global Struggle With Islamo-Nazi-Fasco-Unionish-Saracens as did Pearl Harbor in World War II. Let me spell out the insinuation:
At Normandy, the Allies (U.S., Canada, Britain, and others), attacked Germany, the ally of Japan, who had attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor. On Sept 11, 19 Muslim terrorists attacked the U.S., which was colonized by the English who descended from the Angles and Saxons who conquered the British who were once ruled by the Romans who lost half of their empire to the Byzantines who were in turn conquered by the Turks who answered the charge of Mohammed who chased the cat who swallowed the fly… Sorry, I got lost there.
Maybe I’m not the best person to figure out how this religious Jihad fits into the grand sweep of Western history. I’m probably better suited to the medieval strippers after all. Unfortunately, the next dozen hits I pull up for the word ‘medieval’ on Google News today are probably going to be more like these stories than my usual targets.
*No back-dating this time, true believers.
**The ethnic tradition mentioned? The “blog ravings of young Muslim women praying for the suicide deaths of their own children.” Normally, I’d make a whole post out of that sort of quote, but today’s grim anniversary has give me bigger fish to fry. You’ll just have to imagine what sort of jokes I’d make about medieval blogs. Some would be self-deprecating and meta, no doubt.
***I’d also probably make a post out of this quote from said article: “Like the evil portrayed in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” – which, after earlier conquests, went dormant for centuries, only to re-emerge in the latter days with a newly rekindled imperative to conquer the world – so it is with radical Islam.”
****Bearskin-rug-having, as well. Pipe-puffing, optional.
*****This is the battle where Charles Martel fought the Saracens.