You will be relieved to know that the New Zealand rugby team known as the Crusaders have changed their logo, removing the sword-brandishing Crusader who up to now lurked by the C in the team’s name. According to the New Zealand Herald, the change is because of the shootings in mosques in Christchurch: “The Crusaders announced earlier this year that they would be considering a change to their name and branding following the attacks that killed 50 people and left dozens injured, insisting the status quo is ‘no longer tenable.’”
Oh, was it Crusaders who attacked the Christchurch mosques? I hadn’t realized. I guess I’m just not woke enough. The Herald explains that “the name was seen as insensitive by many, given its links to the military campaigns launched by Christians against Muslims during the medieval period.” And while the sword-bearing Crusader has been jihaded, “it is still unknown whether the franchise will go as far as changing its name, with opinion heavily divided among fans.” In reality, of course, it is about as likely that the Crusaders will keep their name as it is that Tulsi Gabbard will be Hillary Clinton’s running mate on the 2020 Democratic Party ticket.
In any case, all this anxiety about the Crusader name is completely unwarranted. Yet as The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS shows from primary sources, the Crusades were not, as the Crusaders rugby team brass evidently assume, an unprovoked exercise of proto-colonialism directed against a peaceful Muslim world.
The Crusades were in reality a late, small-scale defensive response after 450 years of jihad attacks had conquered and Islamicized what had previously been over half of the Christian world.
Armies animated by the jihad ideology (or that eventually justified their actions by recourse to it) had occupied much of the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain — as well as Persia and much of India — centuries before a Crusade was even contemplated. They had entered France and besieged Constantinople, the capital of the Christian Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, several times.
The Seljuk Turks’ victory over the Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071, when they took the Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes prisoner, opened all of Asia Minor to them. In 1076, they conquered Syria; in 1077, Jerusalem. The Seljuk Emir Atsiz bin Uwaq promised not to harm the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but once his men had entered the city, they murdered 3,000 people.
That same year, the Seljuks established the sultanate of Rum (Rome, referring to the New Rome, Constantinople) in Nicaea, perilously close to Constantinople itself; from there they continued to threaten the Byzantines and harass the Christians all over their new domains. The Byzantine Empire, which before Islam’s wars of conquest had ruled over a vast expanse including southern Italy, North Africa, the Middle East, and Arabia, was reduced to little more than Greece. It looked as if its demise at the hands of the Seljuks was imminent.
The Church of Constantinople considered the Pope a schismatic and had squabbled with him for centuries, but the new Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus swallowed his pride and appealed for help.
And that is how the First Crusade came about: it was a response to the Byzantine Emperor’s call for help against Muslim invaders who threatened to destroy the Christian empire.
It is undeniable that the Crusaders committed many atrocities. So did their jihadi opponents. But in the main, the Crusader endeavor was not an exercise in imperialism or proto-colonialism, but an attempt to protect Christians from jihad attacks.
So why shouldn’t this New Zealand rugby team have a Crusader mascot and take pride in its own culture and heritage? Because that culture is spent, and weak, and confused, and anxious to appease a much more confident alternative culture that regards the Crusades as an affront.
The West continues its cultural self-abnegation in the face of the chimera of “Islamophobia” — a propaganda neologism designed to make people ashamed of defending themselves and their homeland against a newly aggressive Islamic jihad.
The Crusaders rugby team, of course, is not alone. The rush to disavow any connection to Crusaders is part of a larger tendency to remain in denial about the jihad aggression that threatens so many in the world today. It manifests an acceptance of the Islamic view of history — which has been aggressively thrust upon the West in recent decades — that blames the origin of conflict between Muslims and Christians upon the evil Crusaders despite the timeline that proves this false.
At a time when the Crusaders’ ancient jihadi foes are newly invigorated and more aggressive than they have been for centuries, this cultural self-hatred is a recipe for disaster.