By Richard Bleil
In the ninth and tenth century, “The” Church launched about half a dozen “Holy Wars” to eradicate the “Muslim Scourge”. See, Jerusalem and the surrounding region was the birthplace of a variety of prophets, including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. As such, there are many sites in and near the city that are holy for people of a variety of faiths.
In the late ninth century, the first of these crusades began as the “Holy” Church sent out its military arm, the Knights Templar, to help secure the path for Christians on pilgrimage to the holy land. Eventually the church started a second arm of their military, the Knights Hospitallar. While the Knights Templar were responsible for securing the path, the Knights Hospitallar would accompany the pilgrims and protect them from harm. As such, the Knights Templar remained in the lands, building fortresses to secure the area, including their first in the ruins of King Solomon’s complex (the source of a variety of great legends and romantic stories). While there, the Knights Templar got to know the local Muslims, trading with them and building relationships. Unfortunately, every time the church officials, far removed from Israel in their Holy Seat primarily in Italy (except for the final crusade when the Holy Seat was relocated to France), decided a new war was required, the Knights Templar would have to turn on the very people with whom they had built working relationships.
Recently, I was in Texas on a business trip, While I was there, I was surrounded by people who seemed to be of Latino heritage, people who were working hard and I never noticed any tension or problem. I’m not saying that such problems don’t exist near the boarder, but I can’t believe that intelligent people cannot see the benefits to our society by other cultures.
It does intrigue me, however, how blind people can be when they want to. I do recall seeing one pickup truck flying confederate flags as it roared down the road. This is an example of ignorance of bigotry. How anybody can live in a culture that has been so delightfully impacted by a strong Latino influence and continue to insist that there is a problem with these beautiful people is something I could never understand.
I think there may be several roots of such bigotry; trying to find some external influence to blame for failings, and a need to be “best”. And, yes, the way people are raised is a major contributing factor as well, but as I had written earlier, it is possible to overcome learned racism as I have done. We are all responsible for our own actions, and personally, I don’t make exceptions for bigotry.
One of the more interesting things about bigotry is internal. During the suffrage movement, it seems like some of the strongest protesters were women. People tend to dislike change, even when it is for the better. Personally, I think that’s what the current presidency is all about, and how he won the election. By praying on the fears and resistance to change, the president rallied a base that is loyal to him yet today.
I have a friend who is racist, and rather proud of it. I’ve always struggled with it, especially considering his occupation, but in his interactions with others I’ve never seen him treat others differently based on race. He made an interesting comment to me that “freedom of speech” (in his perspective) is only acceptable in today’s society if the speech agrees with the current beliefs.
I’m not sure I agree with him, although I’m certain that, from his perspective, this is the way it seems. However, I’m equally certain that anybody who stood up to defend another would feel the same (as those who face bigotry on a regular basis because of their race).
We should conclude this post with a few comments on how to confront bigots. To be honest, though, I don’t know what to suggest on this front. To be honest, as with my friend, I just kind of feel sorry for them. He had a point; everybody is entitled to their own opinion, even if the opinions are unpopular. and provided the speech does not include threats, direct or implied, or inciting to riot, everybody has the right to speak their mind. I’ve tried to debate the point with him, but only succeeded in coming to the conclusion that he will never change his opinion (nor will I). I have to admit; I don’t keep in touch with him as much as I might otherwise, but mostly, I just feel sorry for him. How dark the world must be when filled with such ignorance.