Often, when I am discussing the violent teachings of the Islamic faith, someone will counter with “what about the crusades?” I am so tired of this dodge, for many reasons. For one, it is a dodge of the issue, which is that Islam teaches violence against non-Islamic people. Despite the existence of moderate Muslims and the rare violent Christian, my essential argument is that the Koran teaches violence as a means to convert the world, while the Christian scriptures teach service, peace, and preaching to freely convince others.
But my second objection is this – modern revisionists like to portray the crusades as some evil Catholic crazy pogrom against innocent Muslims, but that is far from the case. CT has an excellent article entitled The Real History of the Crusades. Enjoy, and here’s some snippets:
The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics….A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins.
So what is the truth about the Crusades? …. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggressionâ€”an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egyptâ€”once the most heavily Christian areas in the worldâ€”quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.