Conquest

 

Probably there is no major nation or ethnic group on the face of the earth today that has not been guilty of invading some other group's territory during some point in their history. In fact, geneticists say that one need only trace "Y" (male) chromosomes to figure out who has invaded whom and at approximately when this invasion occurred. Currently a large scale DNA tracing program is being carried out testing the remaining aboriginal peoples around the world to see just who came first and from where and when. No doubt this kind of behavior has been going on since the Stone Age.

 

We also know, at least if we can trust the Bible, that in the case of the Hebrew people, that they believed that God had commanded them to invade the land of the Canaanites and of those who were apparently the remaining aboriginal people of what we now call the Holy Land. In fact, according to what most scholars consider to be very earliest book of the Bible, the Book of Joshua, the Hebrews were commanded to exterminate the original inhabitants, while the Book of Judges blames some of their later problems on having failed to completely carry out this command.

 

So too, among the various other people following other religions derived from this biblical tradition. Constantine the Great, with standards topped with the Chi-Rho Cross, conquered, as he claimed, after his victory over his rivals in 312, in the name of Christ. So too Islam's armies, in the name of Allah, swept across all of North Africa, up through Spain, until finally stopped by Charles Martel and his army at the Battle of Tours in central France in 732. After the Egyptian Fatamid Caliph began destroying Christian shrines in the Holy Land, a series of bloody Crusades were launched over some three centuries time to win back the Holy Land for Christ. After they practically destroyed the Islamic civilization of Persia and modern-day Iraq, the Turkish invaders were converted to Islam and destroyed the remnants of Byzantine Christian Empire and went on to threaten Europe until turned back from the gates of Vienna in 1529 and yet again in 1683.

 

But the aggression did not stop then. Liberated from the Muslim threat to Europe, Europeans turned their military and naval forces to the task of conquering the Americas, large parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, and parts of the by-then declining Muslim world, all this in the name of "Christian Civilization" and of course, the gold, silver, and other riches (most recently oil) these new acquisitions could provide.

 

The question today is how much longer the world, especially since it has become much more crowded, can allow this kind of primitive behavior, especially under the guise of religion to continue even if these invaders justified their conquests as way of conversion rather than killing people outright.

Yet the fact is that two of the major threats to the peace and stability of the world today have at their heart these same outworn excuses either the claim of one religion (Islam) of the right to supplant all others, or the claim of its opponents that the civilization produced by their own religions (Judaism and Christianity even if only a few still practice them) gives them the right to re-conquer what they once lost. Can anyone imagine someone defending his country's aggression before the UN Security Council or General Assembly or on trial for genocide before the World Court and claiming innocence on the plea that "God had told him (or us) to do it" or that since God had made their nation or way of life superior in so many ways, they had every right to do what they did? Any such person or nation claiming such excuse would be thought either insane or too dangerous to be trusted. Yet when you come down to it, this is exactly the kind of thinking that still prevails in this crazy world.

 

R W Kropf 2/10/06

 

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