One of history’s lessons is that any ideology, sacred or secular, that divides the world into ‘us versus them’ can and will be used to justify violence
by David M. Perry
At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama made a statement that you wouldn’t expect to be
controversial: violence in the name of religion is a global problem and
He referenced the war in Syria, the killings in Nigeria,
anti-Semitism’s resurgence in Europe and religious violence in India. He
admitted that it can be hard to “counteract such intolerance. But God
compels us to try.” Then he offered a longer thought about humility:
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human
history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to
some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition,
people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home
country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of
The subsequent controversy fuelled by right-wing American
commentators and politicians has shown that humility is in short supply.
The response was furious. Right-wing radio and TV talking heads aired long rants about Obama’s “attacks on Christianity”. Jonah Goldberg
claimed the Crusades were a justified action against Muslim aggression
and the Inquisition was a well-intentioned anti-lynching measure. Ross
Douhat spent his morning on Twitter defending conservative Catholicism more generally. Redstate.com’s Erick Erickson declared that Barack Obama was not a Christian in “any meaningful way”. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal argued that since the medieval Christian threat was over a long time ago, we should just focus on combating radical Islam.
This is a great piece on how the past is used to serve the present, regardless of how, why, and for what purposes. This is also why education, especially history education, is such a powerful political gambit in the United States. What we learn and how we learn it is dictated by political and financial agendas, and being mindful of that, we can have a say in how we choose to egnage with it.