I was thinking of seeing Kingdom of Heaven. I dug Ridley Scott's Gladiator. So I went to Rottentomatoes.com. They have 100s of reviews amalgamated to give you an idea of whether a film is good or not. They feature around 10-15 snippets of reviews on each movie's main page. And they feature one small snippet of one "Featured Critic" in the top left corner.
The featured critic of Kindom of Heaven is Hollywoodreporter.com's Kirk Honeycutt. (no idea whether or not that's his real name)
The featured snippet of the featured review isn't even about the movie. It is an editorial judgement about the crusades, and it is a lie-
Kingdom fulfills the requirements of grand-scale moviemaking while serving as a timely reminder that in the conflict between Christianity and Islam it was the Christians who picked the first fight.
Er, no, it doesn't serve as a timely reminder of anything, because Christians didn't pick the first fight. The Crusades were a response to Muslim aggression. This should be common fucking knowledge, thank you very much. But, apparently, it isn't. Here are some links to educate those of you who are ignorant regarding this:
Christianity has been on the defensive against Islam almost from Islam's very beginning. From medieval Muslim aggression to present-day aggression in America, Sudan, Armenia, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., jihad (in the sense of "holy war"; the word itself simply means "struggle") is an historical and extant Islamic reality. Samuel Huntington, in his flawed but interesting book "The Clash of Civilizations", says:
"Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders."
Paul Fregosi writes in "Jihad":
The story begins around 650 C.E. with the first, unsuccessful siege of Constantinople, and continues with the invasion and occupation, sometimes for hundreds of years, of many European countries. Italy, Sicily, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Rumania, Wallachia, Albania, Moldavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, the Ukraine, and eastern and southern Russia were all battlefields where Islam conquered or was conquered in violent conflicts marked by cruelty, bloodlust, and a fearful loss of life, spread over considerably more than a thousand years.
For over a century and a half the world had forgotten this fact, since most Muslim countries were politically impotent and ruled mainly as the colonies or protectorates of European powers.
… European history has remained transfixed on the Christian Crusades of the eleventh to the thirteenth century, it has largely ignored these Muslim attacks and invasions...When accusing the West of imperialism, Muslims are obsessed with the crusades, but have forgotten their own longer and more gruesome Jihad.
The Crusades were a series of defensive wars against Islamic aggression in the Middle Ages and attempts to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim conquerors in order to allow safe pilgrimage and to protect and maintain the Christian presence there. Jerusalem had been Christian for hundreds of years when Caliph Omar seized it, and following that victory, Muslims warred their way into Egypt, other parts of Africa, Spain, Sicily, and Greece, leaving Christians dead and churches in ruins. They stole lands in the area now known as Turkey, destroying Catholic communities founded by St. Paul himself. They siezed Constantinople -- the "second Rome" -- and threatened the Balkans. They warred their way as far north as Vienna, Austria and Tours, France.
"With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt--once the most heavily Christian areas in the world--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 consumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
"Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne'er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders' expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were not just a front for darker designs.
"During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to "store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt." They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love.
In any event, because it was the closest geographically, Palestine was the first Western non-Arab area invaded in the Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of others. At the time, Palestine was under the rule of the so-called Eastern Roman Empire, ruled from Istanbul by Greek speaking people, and was Eastern Orthodox Catholic. The Eastern Orthodox rule was despotic and the Eastern Roman Empire was in serious decline. The Eastern Orthodox rulers were despots, and in Palestine had subjugated the large population of local Jews and Monophysite Christians. Because the Orthodox were imperialist, colonialist, and bloody, and majored in religious persecution to boot, the Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of Palestine, and then Egypt, was made easier. Because of Orthodox weakness and the relative speed of the conquest of Palestine and Israel, I have often seen this Muslim, imperialist, colonialist bloody conquest described by Muslim and PC writers as "peaceful" or "bloodless." This statement is simply not true.
The Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of Palestine began with a battle, the August 20, 636, battle of Yarmk (it is believed that 75,000 soldiers took part -- hardly bloodless). With the help of the local Jews who welcomed the Muslims as liberators, the Muslims had subjugated the remainder of Palestine but had not been able to capture Jerusalem. Beginning in July 637, the Muslims began a siege of Jerusalem which lasted for five (hardly bloodless) months before Jerusalem fell in February 638. Arabs did not sack the city, and the Arab soldiers were apparently kept in tight control by their leaders. No destruction was permitted. This was indeed a triumph of civilized control, if imperialism, colonization, and bloody conquest can ever be said to be "civilized." It was at this conquest that many significant hallmarks of Muslim colonialism began. The conquered Christian and Jewish people were made to pay a tribute to the colonialist Muslims. In addition, Baghdad used the imperialist, colonialist, bloody wars of conquest throughout the life of its empire to provide the Caliphate with a steady stream of slaves, many of whom were made eunuchs.
Now put this down in your notebook, because it will be on the test: The crusades were in every way a defensive war. They were the West's belated response to the Muslim conquest of fully two-thirds of the Christian world. While the Arabs were busy in the seventh through the tenth centuries winning an opulent and sophisticated empire, Europe was defending itself against outside invaders and then digging out from the mess they left behind. Only in the eleventh century were Europeans able to take much notice of the East. The event that led to the crusades was the Turkish conquest of most of Christian Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The Christian emperor in Constantinople, faced with the loss of half of his empire, appealed for help to the rude but energetic Europeans. He got it. More than he wanted, in fact.
Pope Urban II called the First Crusade in 1095. Despite modern laments about medieval colonialism, the crusade's real purpose was to turn back Muslim conquests and restore formerly Christian lands to Christian control. The entire history of the crusades is one of Western reaction to Muslim advances. The crusades were no more offensive than was the American invasion of Normandy. As it happened, the First Crusade was amazingly, almost miraculously, successful. The crusaders marched hundreds of miles deep into enemy territory and recaptured not only the lost cities of Nicaea and Antioch, but in 1099 Jerusalem itself.
Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. 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. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman’s famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.
So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Well, there you go. If you want more, there is more info out there. Ten minutes on google would be enough... If you're the kind of dweeb who learns about nuclear reactors from watching the Simpsons then you probably haven't read this far, and STILL believe the Crusades were not defensive wars, so of course you won't bother looking. So why am I addressing you?
I don't know. Why did I email Kirk Honeycutt, tool extraordinaire, to let him know? I don't know. I'm certainly not expecting a response.