Monday, February 15, 2010

More Utopianism at the Human Rights Commission

An unpublished letter to the Toronto Star.

Re Obese woman wins fight for better parking spot, Feb 11, 2010:

For not acceding to the demand of a condo owner for a more convenient parking spot, all the other condo owners in the building must pay $10,000 to an aggrieved owner. The Quebec Human Rights Commission, in a brain-flash of idealism, claimed the condo board was wrong not to take the desired spot from a woman in her sixties and give it to the obese complainant.

Is there no end to the wrong-headed decisions of utopian human rights commissioners? What will they do if the woman who must now surrender her parking place becomes handicapped and requires a more convenient spot? Will the Commissioners order the obese complainant to return it? Or will they order another owner to give up their spot?

The fact that the complainant hired a lawyer indicates a grab for the pot of gold as well as the righting of a perceived wrong. If there were no chance of getting money, but only the parking spot, would she have complained at all?

Monday, February 1, 2010

No Apologies for the Crusades

Following 9/11, U.S. President George W. Bush proclaimed a "crusade" against the perpetrators. For this he was criticized, as the word might offend some Muslims -- the perpetrators of the disaster. In his book, The Future Church, John L. Allen jr. writes, ". . . guilt for sins of the past, from the Crusades . . . " Too much Western literature perpetuates this error.

Anyone offended by the word seems shy of history.

The term "crusade" appeared centuries after the events it purports to describe. The inconclusive numbering also came later. Muslim historians named each battle after the nationality of the invader. Nor were these attacks directed exclusively against Muslims. In the one billed as the Fourth, Christians from Western Europe sacked Christian Constantinople. On another occasion, a Muslim prince collaborated with the Frankish military to attack other Muslim prince.

Some of these attacks were motivated by the need to expand European trade. The failure of the 1160s series of invasions of Egypt stimulated the urgency to reach the Far East by way of South Africa. Muslims deemed the 1497 voyage of Vasco da Gama into the Indian Ocean as an intrusion into their trade routes.

Long before these campaigns began in 1095, Islam had attacked or overrun Christian lands such as Jerusalem (638), Egypt (640), North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean (709), Spain (711), France (732), Italy (820), Sicily (827), Anatolia (1071).

Europeans lived in constant fear of Muslim raiders in search of slaves and loot. The 903 sack of Thessaloniki in northeast Greece netted 30,000 Christians for Muslim slave markets. These raids occurred as far north as Ireland. Muslim piracy on the Mediterranean Sea, and belief that the gateway to Europe was always open, struck fear throughout the continent.

[The long process of liberating Europe began with failed Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683. In 1801, the United States Navy and the marines put an end to the piracy and the enslaving of Europeans as well as Americans.]

Initially, the Crusades were a reaction to the persecution of Christians in the Holy Land. Religious celebrations were abolished, churches destroyed, Christians deprived of their possessions, then hanged, and tombs were plundered. The initial motive for the first Crusade was the retrieval of holy relics and the protection of pilgrims. Commercial interests came later.