| The crusades was a religious war. It has been brought to our attention that it may be still occurring. The attacks of the twin towers is an indication that this might be true; along with George W. Bush’s speech that followed, when he mentioned that his troops in Iraq were part of a crusade. The book The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam by Jonathan Riley-Smith addresses whether or not this is true. Jonathan states that what was thought to be crusades during the Middle Ages is quite different than what is perceived to be a crusade today. Jonathan states what he is going to try and prove in his book: “I will try to explain how the Crusades were viewed in religious terms by the Christian faithful, how the language associated with them was appropriated by Europeans in the age of imperialism, and how the nineteenth-century rhetoric, itself a distortion of reality, was in the twentieth century distorted again both in the West and in Islam.” This quote shows Jonathan’s intention on writing this book. It demonstrates that Jonathan wants to prove that the Crusades were viewed as being religious to the Christian faith during the years of imperialism; and in the nineteenth and twentieth century the crusades have been exaggerated by the West and Islam societies.
The differences being that the Crusades in the Middle Ages were a religious war, whereas when George W. Bush uses the term “crusades” on September 11, 2001, the day of the attacks, the term was more of a military and a non-religious term. George W. Bush said: “this crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.” George W. Bush was right in the fact that the war on terrorism will take a while, since it is still going on today, which is ten years later. The second time that George W. Bush uses the term was on the national day of mourning, September 16, 2001, which honored the people who died because of the Muslim’s Jihad and attack on the Twin Towers. On this occasion George W. Bush reflected upon his statement made on the day of the attacks and said:
“We’re facing a new kind of enemy, somebody so barbaric, that they would fly airplanes in the buildings full of innocent people; and therefore, we have to be on alert in America. We’re a nation of law, a nation of civil rights, we’re also a nation under attack...We need to go back to work tomorrow, and we will; but we need to be alert to the fact that, these evil doers, still exist. We haven’t seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have conceivably imagined, a suicide bombers borrowing into our society and then emerging all on the same day, to fly their aircraft, fly U.S. aircraft, in the buildings full of innocent people; and show no remorse; and this is a new kind of an evil, and we understand; and the American people are beginning to understand, this crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.”
For this speech George W. Bush still mentions the term “crusade” and addresses the fact that this is a new kind of enemy. This relates to what Jonathan Riley-Smith mentions as stated above. That both the West and the Islamic have a distorted reality on what a crusade is. George W. Bush also mentions in this speech that the terrorism, or this Islamic jihad, is barbaric. Jonathan Riley-Smith also touches on barbarism: “The Crusades themselves were deeply embedded in popular Catholic ideas and devotional life. They were not thoughtless explosions of barbarism.” This demonstrates the different comparisons between the Middle Ages crusades and what is conceived as the twentieth century crusade. During the Middle Ages crusading was strictly on Catholicism and devotional life, meaning that these wars were fought by people who devoted their lives to Christ and Catholic belief. One of the main beliefs is that they wanted what was good for the world, and they believed that people should follow Christ’s teaching, which meant people should be Catholic. Instead of as Jonathan mentions “thoughtless explosions of barbarism” as what has happened upon the Twin Towers. As mentioned above Bush states that the Americans are a nation of law and civil rights which demonstrates the point mentioned earlier in that what Bush describes as being a “crusade” is instead a militaristic war on protecting laws and civil rights and is not religious as a crusade is meant to be.