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By Samuel L. Blumenfeld

    Because we live in such a highly secularized society we cannot believe that America could ever become involved in a religious war in this day and age.  Yet ferocious religious wars have been going on all over the place: in Northern Ireland, in Israel, in the Balkans, in the Sudan, and in Russia.  But history is a very harsh taskmaster and refuses to let us Americans escape into our secular fantasies and hot houses for long.  Thus, it is vitally important for us to reconnect with the human race’s never ending history of religious struggle.  That a group of Islamic terrorists, living in a remote war-torn, famine ridden, hell-hole in Asia could organize the kind of mind-boggling attack against America that took place on September 11th, means that America is not only not exempt from history, but has been dragged kicking and screaming back into the middle of it.

    Back in 1588, Christopher Marlowe, master of historical drama, wrote his famous Tamburlaine 2.  In it there is a fascinating scene in which the Christian King Sigismund of Hungary and Orcanes, the Muslim King of Natolia, both former enemies, decide to establish peace between them in order to join forces to defeat Tamberlaine the Great, the cruel, pagan conqueror of Asia.

Both men confirm their commitment with an oath.  King Sigismund vows:

By Him that made the world and sav’d my soul,

The Son of God and issue of a maid,

Sweet Jesus Christ, I solemnly protest

And vow to keep this peace inviolable! 

King Orcanes vows:

By sacred Mohamed, the friend of God,

Whose holy Alcoran remains with us,

Whose Glorious body, when he left the world,

Clos’d in a coffin mounted up the air,

And hung on stately Mecca’s temple-roof,

I swear to keep this truce inviolable!

    But as the story goes, it was King Sigismund who later broke the truce and was defeated and killed by the Muslims.

    While the history of the struggle between Christians and Muslims for control of Europe was for a time settled after the Muslims were expelled from Spain in 1492, and driven back from the gates of Vienna to Asia and Africa, the Islamic enclaves that remained in the Balkans led to the recent wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.  The Serbs had considered themselves as the Christian bulwark against further Islamic incursions in Europe, and therefore could not understand why they were being bombed by fellow Europeans and Americans.

    You had to know history to understand what Bosnia and Kosovo were all about.  That conflict proved that the war between Christianity and Islam has never ended.  Over the ages, it simply took on different forms.  The rise of European power put a lid on Islamic ambitions and the Muslim world became the backwater of history until the discovery of oil in the 20th century.  But in the 19th century, the Islamic Barbary states of North Africa could still make trouble for the Infidel.  They took possession of American and European commercial vessels, held their crews for ransom, and enslaved other Christians.  Our first war after independence was fought during the Jefferson administration against the Muslim pirates and kidnappers of Tripolitania, the Barbary War, in which U.S. Marines staged their first invasion of foreign soil. Hence, the Marine anthem: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

    In order to finally put a stop to the piracy and barbarism coming out of North Africa,  France decided to take over Algeria.  During the 1830s and 1840s, the French imposed their rule over the territory, encouraging Europeans to settle there.  The result was a flourishing French colony and an end to Barbary piracy.  France maintained order in North Africa until the end of World War II, when the anti-colonialist movement got underway.  Both liberals and communists joined in forcing the European powers to give up their colonies. 

    In Algeria, however, over a million Europeans had settled in the territory and the coastal departments were considered an integral part of France.  However, when Charles de Gaulle gained power at the height of the Algerian uprising, he decided that France should quit Algeria because the Moslems could never become true Frenchmen.  And so France abandoned Algeria, and a million Europeans took to the boats.  Today, the invasion has been reversed.  Five million Muslims, mostly Algerians, live in France.  They comprise ten percent of the population and are part of the resurgent Islamic power in Europe.  Christianity is now so weak in France that one wonders if it is capable of resisting the assumption of Islamic power.

    We have been told by our leaders and the media that we are not at war against the Islamic religion.  We are at war against terrorism.  But what they all prefer not to recognize is that the spiritual power behind that terrorism, the power that drives otherwise intelligent human beings to undertake suicidal missions against the infidel is the religion of Islam.  Of course, there are millions of Muslims who just want to lead normal lives.  Unfortunately, after September 11th, nothing is “normal” anymore.

Samuel L. Blumenfeld is an lecturer, educator and the author of eight books on education, many of which are available through