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Jewish World Review July 21, 1999 /8 Av 5759

Don Feder

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Econophone

Apology craze hits the Crusades

http://www.jewishworldreview.com --
THE LATEST EXAMPLE of the historical apology craze comes from Jerusalem, where a group of evangelical Christians is getting all weepy over something that happened almost a millennium ago.

"We, as physical and cultural descendants of the Crusaders, recognize and renounce the motives and acts of the Crusaders," said Matthew Hand, a spokesman for the Reconciliation Walk.

Forgiveness was asked of Muslims, Jews and Eastern Orthodox, whose forebears suffered at the hands of Europeans fighting for the Holy Land.

Don't imagine that Muslims agonize over the murder and mayhem done during the multiple invasions of Europe, extending over six centuries, by the followers of Mohammed.

More to the point, I have never heard a spokesman for any Muslim group express concern about the abysmal treatment of Christians and Jews in the Islamic world today.

In the United Arab Emirates, Christian proselytizing is a capital offense. In Saudi Arabia, it's a crime to display a cross or conduct Christian services.

Blacks in the Jim Crow South had it good, compared to Coptic Christians in Egypt today. Nearly 2 million Christian tribesmen have been slaughtered by Sudan's Islamic republic. In Iran, a group of Jews have been arrested for espionage and could be executed.

Regrets for any of the above? Oops, I forgot -- apologies only flow from West to East and from those of lighter to those of darker hue. So sorry.

Muslims don't want apologies for the Crusades, but for what they consider more recent Western sins -- first and foremost, creation of the state of Israel. Their goal is the same today as a millennium ago, a Middle East free of Christian or Jewish influence.

Revisionists call the Crusades an invasion and the first instance of European colonialism.

But the Arabs were themselves invaders, who had conquered the region only a few centuries earlier, destroying ancient Christian communities in the process. The Crusades started when Christian pilgrims were denied access to the holiest shrines of their faith.

It would be entirely fitting for the mea culpa strollers to say, "Look, killing innocent people in Christ's name is a total denial of his teachings" and leave it at that. But to apologize for the evil of your "physical and cultural" ancestors is fatuous and self-serving.

My friend Michael Pakaluk, a lay Catholic scholar who teaches philosophy at Clark University, says of the contrition crowd, "These people can't see the evil in themselves," so they seek it everywhere else.

Contemplating the sins of warriors long dead must give them a warm, self-righteous glow. Conscience-wise, they believe they've done their duty. No need to examine their own failings.

There's no more glaring example of this moral myopia than our president. Predator, perjurer, scam artist, Chinese agent (?) -- Bill Clinton is the most corrupt man to ever hold the office of president.

And no one is quicker to apologize for others' mistakes -- from slavery to U.S. involvement with military regimes -- or has a harder time acknowledging his own conduct. In the Monica scandal, Clinton went from brazen lies to grudging admission to feigned contrition while impeachment was pending.

Is it a coincidence that the president is also a dedicated defender of quotas?

Thomas Fleming, editor of Chronicles magazine, thinks not. Historical apologies are "in keeping with affirmative action," Fleming observes. "Both are based on the concept of inherited guilt."

Affirmative action says to the white male, "As the physical and cultural descendant of slaveowners, segregationists or slumlords, you must be punished for the transgressions of those whose only connection with you is genetic or a vague physical resemblance."

Historical apologies are based on the same racist premise -- that the burden of guilt is in the blood. For what your ancestors did, you must abase yourself.

Christianity and Judaism, which are based on individual responsibility, utterly reject the notion of collective guilt, which liberals today (including the religious left) so fervently embrace.

The latter have enlisted in a wrongheaded crusade and are swinging their swords for a discredited concept. They are also playing into the hands of those who would use Western guilt to eradicate a Judeo-Christian presence in the region where our faith was born.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder can be reached by clicking here.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate