Donate Email Alert Links Photo Gallery Mumia' Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays Prison Radio

Prison Radio
Mumia' Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays
Photo Gallery
Mumia Email Update
Mumia Gear
Radio Programmers
Contact Us





Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

Crusades New and Old

Short Version: mp3, 2.60 MBs, 3:15

Medium Version: mp3, 3.34 MBs, 4:10
Long Version: mp3, 3.75 MBs, 4:41

[Col. Recorded 10/23/04]

Shortly after 9-11, US President, George W. Bush, initially announced the beginning of a "crusade" against the forces that unleashed September 11th. Under criticism from his advisers, who said that the term evoked outrage in much of the Arab world, he relented, and the term was heard no more.

While the word 'crusade' may no longer be used in presidential speech, there can really be little doubt that it is precisely the concept of 'crusade' that actuates many of the actions of the US government vis-a-vis the countries of the Middle East. Bush has spoken often of 'remaking the face of the region.'

There is a reason why Arab countries and communities reacted with outrage and horror at the mere mention of the crusades; Arabs and Europeans view that past differently, because their respective cultures were in conflict then. The Europeans saw the Crusades as a noble assignment from the Popes to 'liberate' Jerusalem from the hands of the "infidels", the Muslim Arabs and Moors. The Arabs saw the era as one of unrelenting bloodshed and cruelty at the hands of the Christians, and saw the dark days of European colonialism as an echo of that earlier period.

For many Americans, the notion of 'crusades', while not as loaded as either, evokes bright, shiny images of knights with crosses on their shields, defending the poor and the weak.

Behind the various images of the crusades, however, lies its awful and bloody history, which British historian Edward Gibbon, in his classic *The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire* [Abridged], does not hesitate to relate. He is not one who recites the glories of these mass military campaigns. It... "[Appear[s] to me," Gibbons writes, that these 200 years of "holy wars", "have checked rather than forwarded the maturity of Europe" (691). Gibbons writes:

The lives and labours of millions, which were buried in the East, would have been more profitably employed in the improvement of their native country: the accumulated stock of industry and wealth would have overflowed in navigation and trade; and the Latins would have been enriched and enlightened by a pure and friendly correspondence with the climates of the East. [691]

The Crusades were not absolutely evil, he argues, in that they did away with another evil: the crusades unleashed an untold number of Europeans, who were tied to the soil as serfs. These people were thrown into the teeming armies of the crusades, and the costs of such ventures "dissipated" the estates of the barons, allowing the poor to agitate for some semblance of freedom, and some social standing free of the rapacious nobility.

Gibbons reminds us that wars begin for many, various reasons; yet few of us can see their end. Surely, the nobles of church and state, who alone bore the stamp of 'citizen' or 'men', before the 200 years of war, could not foresee their dissipation, and loss of power and prestige afterwards. They saw only the promise of vast wealth, and the misty inheritances of martial glory.

Yet, as ever, there are lessons in history.

'War', the saying goes, 'is the sport of kings.' It is also, often, an engine of societal change, that transforms the nations that wage war, as often as the nations that are warred against. The first crusades weakened, rather than strengthened Europe, but this was lost to those ruling and wealthy classes, who could not see past their own avarice.

We are told that these wars too, will, in the crippled words of Bush, 'last for generations.'

None of us can see the beginning of an end. But, if history teaches us anything, it is that change is coming.

It will change them; but assuredly, it will change us, as well.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For additional information and to order We Want Freedom, visit:

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People" at

The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.