By George Neumayr
Published 5/10/2005 12:06:30 AM
The gravitation of liberals to illiberal ideologies is uncanny. The more illiberal the ideology, the more likely liberals will endeavor to understand and defend it. Militant Islam enjoys the benefits of this phenomenon in this century, just as the totalitarians of the Soviet Union benefited from it in the last. Militant Islam's most powerful propagandists are not Muslims but self-hating Westerners who interpret militant Islam's history and doctrines with a sympathy they never extend to Western religion.
The latest illustration of this self-hatred is Kingdom of Heaven, an anti-crusader movie that contains Hollywood's idea of a happy ending -- Christians in retreat and Islam on the march. Owing to this species of death-wish liberalism, Islamic conquerors against the West don't even need to rewrite history. Defeated Westerners will rewrite it for them, making their imperialism by the sword look harmless. A few years ago PBS, making a great effort to refurbish Islam in the wake of 9/11, produced a documentary depicting the early Muslim warriors as 7th-century Alan Aldas. Kingdom of Heaven keeps this propaganda rolling, which director Sir Ridley Scott's spokesman didn't even bother to hide prior to the movie's release. He told the London press last year that the movie is designed to please Muslims. "We hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history," Scott's spokesman said.
What's meant by rectification of history here is the rewriting of history according to politically correct exigencies in the liberal mind. This need produces a ludicrous movie that looks as if it was assembled by a committee at the U.N. The movie's portrayals break down as: Believing Christians bad, Muslims and de-Christianized Knights good. Just as 9/11 inspired liberals to rework the concept of jihad to mean innocuous self-improvement, so in Kingdom of Heaven liberalism is trying to rework the concept of Knighthood, defining its true manifestation as a commitment to secularized social justice. The true knights, in other words, didn't risk life and limb to liberate the Holy Land from four centuries of brutal jihad but to oversee the building of wells and other public works projects. The good Knights, you see, didn't care a whit that Muslims armies had been assaulting Eastern Christianity in Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and had seized Jerusalem in a power grab that left the Christian Patriarch Sophronius, according to Edward Gibbon, mumbling in sorrow, "Behold the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet." No, the good knights sought political rather than religious salvation in the Holy Land. They just wanted to form a kingdom of this world in which all peoples could live in syncretistic harmony.
Ridley Scott's absurdly anachronistic, U.N.-style vision put considerable pressure on him to make stuff up in the movie. For example, he cobbles together a council of properly liberalized Muslims, Christians, and Jews to try and save Jerusalem from wild-eyed, primitive fundamentalists. Professor Riley-Smith of Cambridge University calls this part of the movie "utter nonsense." No such "confraternity" existed. The movie's so amateurish it wouldn't even be worth examining were it not a window on a mindset that will bedevil the West for a long time to come. The movie contains Big Lies, pervasive in the culture, that will make the preservation of what is left of Western civilization very difficult. Imagine if the attitude that informs the movie were present at the time of Islam's advances through the centuries on Spain, France, Italy, and Austria. Would Europe exist? Nope, and perhaps the Ridley Scotts would consider that a good thing. The people of Vienna in the late 1600s should have said to the Muslim armies, "Thank you for conquering us." That Europe is now internally disintegrating as it is Islamized is due to the disappearance of the Christian consensus that movies like Kingdom of Heaven applaud.
The Christianity without Christ that liberalism extols is a Christianity with no interest in Jerusalem. It is no wonder that CAIR and other Muslim groups are cheering this movie: it vindicates the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land, which even the very cautious historian Bernard Lewis has described as a polemical power grab that was designed to announce to the world that Islam had supplanted Judaism and Christianity. Jerusalem is not mentioned a single time in the Koran. But Islam, in order to supersede Judeo-Christianity, had to occupy Jerusalem and build a Dome of the Rock to overshadow the dome over Jesus Christ's tomb. The inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock, which predict ruin for Jews and Christians if they do not submit to Islam, make Islam's use of Jerusalem clear. Militant Islam was the new world order, the Dome of the Rock announced -- a message its Western dupes centuries later still don't not grasp and won't until they live under it.
George Neumayr is executive editor of The American Spectator.