Steve Bannon promised to support US president Trump after he had resigned from the White House. He went back to Breitbart and now we are told, that Breitbart has been very critical of the latest descisions of the US president and some of his staff. I do not see any controversy here. A critical newsmedia should be critical even about the political leader they otherwise support. Otherwise it stops being critical and becomes just a form of propaganda for the politician. This is a positive sign.

The US president Donald Trump made a comment about the intended demolition of the statue of Confederate general Lee. He defended the statue and asked wich statues are the next to be tumbled. I agree with him. Pulling down statues, even those of people whose values we no longer share is a bit barbaric.

Of course, if a dictator has littered the landscape with enormous statues of himself or symbols of regressive and oppressive regime all over, it is only natural that when such a dictatorship falls, the people vent some of their anger on those statues and that a good number of them do not need to be in the open any more.

I do not think we should hide our past by taking down old statues, even if they represent ideals we no longer share. History should not be re-written as such, but rather that some of those statues should stand in order to remind us how we have been wrong once.

Now, in the US, it seems to me as an outsider, the problem is actually not so much the taking down of such a statue, or pulling the rug over history, as it is the crowd that came to protest the statue being taken down. People organized into paramilitant groups toting automatic guns and waving the Swasticas and the Confederate flags. These people were not there to protest against the cultural barbarism of pulling down an historical monument, but to demonstrate that they dare still openly hold racist values. I guess, it is these groups, and their audacity to publicly demonstrate their ultra-conservative extremist right-wing values really existing, why such a statue as the one representing general Lee was decided to take down at the first place. To make a gesture, that the US society no longer finds racism, or slavery as values to support, or even to flirt with. The fact that there was a counter protest finally made the gestrure. So in order to defend the statue, these right-wing extremists actually made the gesture bigger. It would have been even bigger if the US president had taken a firm stand against the neo-nazies. But he wavored. I guess he felt he had to accomodate for some of his most scared and angry voters.

Now poor president Trump is in dire straits with this. He has pulled much of his most loyal support from such extremist groups and even more from large amounts of individuals who may not be members of any of these groups, but symphatize with them, and share their concern of the world changing around them. Many of his supporters may not be open racists, but feel anguished about being monitored by demands of political correctness and not really knowing how to behave, when their former inhereted values no longer seem to be seen as valid by the ever changing society around them. Having a cultural heritage of already a bit old fashioned set of values, that as so many ancient cultural traditions are more based on arbitrary authoritarian dictates, than the ability to reason what is actually good and what is poor behaviour, these people have elected a president who seems to fit the picture of an authoritarian, white, strong, conservative male, who in addition speaks in simple phrases, rather than using complex political jargon. The thing is, that one of the many misconceptions of these sorts of voters of the president, is that they think they represent the majority and that the not only have the democratic majority, but the right of might of the majority and indeed even the right of might of their god, who no doubt agrees with them about all the moral issues. Yet, that is not how reality works and this means they are in for a nasty ride in the future and that they may get even more desperate, if this president fails to provide them the imaginary golden age of the past, they think existed when they were kids.

What options does president Trump have? He tries to provide a picture where he has not abandoned this large support group of ignorant and possibly desperate people. He has the advantage, that they often are limited in their cognitive abilities to analyze reality, so he – knowing his own crowd – may be able to numb them down with his message, that the “other side” was just as much to blame as the right-wing conservative extremists who demonstrated waving open the flags of Nazi-regime and those of the slave-owning Confederate magnates. The main question is what other side? Should we not stand against nazies? What follows, if we do not? I truly hope, that not even president Trump would really want that as in his own family there are people who would be among the first victims of such extremist right-wing conservatives would reach the sort of authoritarian absolute political power they expect him to weild, now that he is the elected president.

Ultimately, just as the ultra-conservatively motivated right-wing extremist Islamist terrorist is good at igniting the fear and hatred of the ultra-conservatively motivated Western right-wing extremist to demands of segregation and even violence (wich I might add is the goal of the Islamist terrorist), both are good at slowly waking up the great majority of the modern people, who just want to live their lives in peace, that at least some of the values they may share with these conservatively motivated right-wing extremists may indeed be bunk.

It may be slow progress, that no longer do we need to only argue with religious conservatives, that there are atheists even among conservatives, that liberal values like freedom of speech is defended as a conservative value, while it has not been that for a very long period of time, and in most extremely conservative and authoritarian cultures it is not valued even today and that some regressive extremist conservative political movements are infact led by women, but I call it progress never the less. Now there are even homosexual advocates of the right-wing conservative extremist values. Women and homosexuals have thus emancipated within the conservative culture up to a point even though opposing such emancipation used to be and still is, so very centrall to so many extremist conservatives of the right-wing tradition. Now, even a political leader who obviously is trying to fill in the leadership model of an authoritarian strong-man such as Donald Trump is critizised by his own supporters, like the Breitbart, who otherwise have had a tendency to spout out all manner of authoritarian propaganda in his defence. The world is turning and it changes. Let us hope it changes fast enough in comparrison to how fast we are detereorating it around us.

Advertisements

When we observe dogs, or horses, we percieve obvious differences between various races of these domesticated animals humanity has selectively breeded for thousands of years. A dog is a dog, it is within the distinct species type, wether a chihuahua, or a great dane.

Are humans any different? No. We are biological entities as much as our pets and beasts of burden. There seems to be these distinct differences between human races alike as there are for example between different breeds of cows. Some are bigger, some have darker skin colouring than the other and so on and these are easily recognizable features.

Or are they? We have stereotypes of racial human features, but even though a vast majority of people may fall under those types, at least in some outside features, what is the actual difference? What about all the people who do not fall under this or that stereotype? Whose stereotypes should we abide to and why? These stereotypes are very much the product of our subjective and sometimes collective minds. The expectations loaded to these stereotypes are also often very unfair towards any individual at all and filled with tribal selfrighteousness, by assuming the features shared by the person holding a specific stereotype are seen as virtues by themselves and any differences as symbols of some sort of defincency. In addition the idea is so muddled, that the cultural aspects of our heritage get confused with what is genetical all the time. Further more, these cultural constructs are equally confused with not just percieved races, but to genders age groups and indeed social groups as well.

Studies of varying social groups and selecting correlative information from those to the ethnic heritage of some groups tells us absolutely nothing about race in reality, but it is often enough used to confirm biases of the existing stereotypes. However correlation does not mean causation.

Realistically speaking, race stereotypes assume all sorts of evolutionary (or unnaturally created) differences between stereotypically nominated groups of people, that can not be demonstrated by any scientific methodology. There exists this ridiculous missunderstanding about evolution, that it causes all things change towards some specific goal and at an equal speed at that. So, that if hereditary groups of people have varying skin colours, their intellects should vary somewhat equally and if these groups are found to have a difference in their economical situation or how often  these groups of people living nominally within the same culture end up in prison, that would somehow indicate some genetic causation to the group ending up in criminal careers (or at least being caught at doing the thing against the social norm of a society). In reality, we do know that powerty and social segragation based on an imaginary stereotype of race or an imaginary stereotype of the poor people do cause crime, while we have absolutely no show that any specific genetics of people with certain kind of perplexion was any cause at all to criminal behaviour. Evolution pushes for change by the simple logic of positive mutation to be more likely to survive long enough to produce the next generation. Nothing more. When a species spreads to new environment for wich it was previously adapted it picks up some mutations that benefits that goal. Perplexion may change over generations according to how much sunlight is awailable to better adapt the new environment, wether the skin needs to protect itself from overt sunshine, or alternatively does it need to let more of sun radiation through from a very limited amount of the sun light awailable in the environment. Human brains have had no such dire demands from varying environments. It seems quite obvious that the brain, is our most adaptive organ as it is, without any major change. There is no soul, we are our brain and it is the same regardless from wich population group on the planet we are descended, since it evolved to be as it is today within a very small group of people who were the ancestors of all of us on the planet today who call ourselves human.

I write this as a “white”, middle aged, male and having lived my entire life in the rich western world. I am painfully aware of my priviledge to even be able to write about this and other issues in my blog, that could be deadly dangerous to other people elswhere.

Realistically speaking race is an issue in societies with history of abuse of people with different perplexion from the ones who held power. Or a cultural norm used when ignorant people get scared of different looking people who come from outside of their very limited cultural experience world.

I find it annoying how loosely the term of race is weilded about in western and especially in American culture even today. For example, in science fiction the imaginary intelligent species originating from various different planets are referred to as “races”. Even if these characters were played by actors wearing mere green rubber mask to make them different enough from humans of planet earth, they most certainly would not be just of different “race”. The products of a completely different ecology and evolutionary trail, separated by the void, would not share none what so ever genetical similarity to us humans and should not be called a “race” under any pretence. This may seem harmless fiction of the most imaginative and farthest from the reality we do live in, but the stories deal often enough with very human problems and they are watched because the audiences can relate to the stories however fancy they are. Hence, implying that there are races and that race differences are an issue may be harmfull. Sure, it may also be a beneficial way for the film makers to remind us about how artifical the entire concept of race is. Yet, when “white”captain Kirk kissed his “black” crewmate in the sixties TV-series Star Trek, it was both a brave step forward by the film crew and a sad show of the racial prejudices of the surrounding society as Kirk had allready kissed green alien “women” and it had been seen as OK, as long as the actor was a “white” woman.

Even today the stereotypes of race are there hidden in plain daylight. When the issue of race comes up, it is about the people of colour or in other words of people of different race, than some race normative people, that is the so called “white” people. More seriously, than in popular culture, though not necessarily any more effectively, these ideas are everyday confused in politics. I just read about two lady candidates in some election in California where it seemed to be an issue that for the first time there were two women candidates and that they were “people of colour”. One had Indian heritage and the other Latin heritage. Neither looked anything but “white” to my eyes, even though I come from Finland where on average there are more of us blue eyed blondes, than in most other countries.

It would be ideal, if it was not an issue at all, that these candidates were “people of colour” or that they were women. However, it remains an issue for as long as such a pervaisive amount of racial and gender stereotypes affect the thinking of the people. It seems the stereotypes need first to be turned, before they can be erased.

 

The new year began with news of a new militant group organizing to “protect the white people” of Finland. The organization has members in many a town around Finland and they are actively recruiting new male members. (Altough to me it seems that the news pics on these guys seem to be all of the same five, or so, dudes.) Their operation at the moment consists of patrolling the steets of their home towns in order to protect the citizenry from the percieved threat, that the asylum seekers present. They have a uniform, wich reminds us of the Neo-Natzie Skinheads. A black pilot jacket with the name of the group printed on the back abowe a skull with a horned helmet and the Finnish flag as a scarf. They also seem to all be sporting bald heads. I do not know if that is an entry requirement, though. They make it known that they expect unwavering loyalty to the other members of their group. For now they have not achieved anything exept become the laughing stock of the nation.

The name of this group has got to be the saddest expression of ignorance ever! These guys portray themselves as patriotically motivated, and oppose multiculturalism, yet the name they have chosen for themselves is in English, not in Finnish. Their name has been taken from an ancient Scandinavian god, not from one of the Finnish ancient gods and the fashion they prefer is presenting rather international identity with thus easily recognizable dangerous morons from all around the western world.

The police has commented as much of them, that any voluntary work is possible in the free country of Finland, but that here we take it very seriously, that law and order, especially any use of force is the job of the police and nobody else. The police also recognizes such groups do not add to the security of the citizens, rather it diminishes it. A patrol may call the police, if they see something, that might require interference, but it is not the job of any more or less organized citizens to interfere. This is an expression of the Lakonian attitude of Finnish officials and people. We do not get easily worked up about anything, but when we do, there will be the Devil to pay…

However, this all makes me a bit worried. The goal posts of what passes as “ordinary” in our society have once again been slightly moved and by the most ignorant numbskulls in our society.

For decades the Finnish people have been moving out of the church. It was already decades and generations ago, when the process in wich not only some people became openly atheistic, but the common folk stopped going to church. Exept for some transitional rituals such as name giving, becoming adult, marriage and finally death. The Christian churches have had a monopoly over these transtional rituals for centuries, and that is why some people have the sad misconception, that such things like the marriage are somehow trademarked by Christianity. One of the reasons for this misconception is the language used, because instead of calling name giving ritual simply for what it is, it has been called Christening, and instead of calling becoming adult what it is, it has been called Confirmation of faith. But despite wether the dead person is being ashed or buried, or wether if the person was a Christian or not, the death is something every individual is going to go through.

The monopoly position has also caused the church not only to neglect the fact that it may not appeal much to modern sensitivities, but also that the church was supposed to be some sort of moral leader. If it is not, then what is the purpose of it within a society? To serve the fancy of superstitious grannies who would prefer to think they shall remain alive even after death? But for a church to be a moral leader it needs to be moral. Morality is not just what we agree upon, to be moral, though that is what moral codes are built on. Morality is mostly about what is right and wrong. As it seems the holy books may sincerely be interpreted to mean many a mutually contradicting views the actual morality has to be drawn from someplace else, than mere authorative commands from an old book.

I salute at least the archbishop of the Finnish state official Lutheran Church, Kari Mäkinen. Thank you for being a moral man and indeed practicing your position to appeal to the better nature of people. I would hope, that more Christians would be more like him.

Archbishop Kari Mäkinen has taken a stand to defend the rights of homosexuals and Muslim refugees despite his holy book could have (and repeatedly has) been used as a base to defile the natural rights of these people as humans. A fine man who deserves my support in these issues. No doubt, that his actions and views will be serving for sensible and moral people to remain as a part of his particular church, while it will drive out the ignorant homophobic tribal moralists out and join in rowes to what ever fundamentalistic groups. What a pity, I can not sincerely join his club, because I simply do not believe in any of the gods, including his god. Even if that god of his was less spitefull, vengefull and mad, than those the fundamentalists propose and sincerely believe in.

There are a number of humanitarian crisis and civil wars ongoing in the world today. A few days ago a Finnish writer and an ex-emissary to Switzerland Alpo Rusi said in an interview, that the number of refugees coming to Europe would have been smaller, if only a military solution to the so called Arabic spring in Syria had been employed by the western states by protection of the demonstrants against the ruling government. I fail to see how this could have worked out even in hindsight. There are plenty of refugees coming from a number of countries in wich the western states have decided to use a military solution to prevent a crisis. That includes at least Afghanishtan, Somalia and Irak. It may very well be, that things could be even worse of without the military interventions, but how well do we know that?

What we do know is, that for decades the western governments have supported a good number of very undemocratic governments around the globe and still do, not only to create a status quo, but to use those governments to sell their natural resources very cheaply to western corporations and for those undemocratic governments to buy western military equipment in fear of their own citizens and to bolster their leaders and supporters feeling of safety. And now the extortion, inequality and lack of democracy has led to all sorts of revolutions and conflicts – once again. As a result there is also a flood of desperate people trying to get themselves and their families to somewhere safe.

At the same time and for a number of recent years racism has raised it’s ugly head in Europe. This year for us Finns has been a culmination point in that developement, as one of our new populist parties, formerly known as the “True Finns”, but recently only as “The Finns” party rose all the way to a coalition government together with our other two major right wing parties. I had written a post about the Finns Party and how they seem to me, like they are outside reality as the snowman is outside the house, but I did not post it. Because it was so full of unbelievable stupidity, ignorance and carefree attitude about the reality the demagogues of this party have now presented during the summer, but it simply started to get too absurd. I started to feel embarrased even for them. Every time I was sure the post was ready, something even more absurd came out from the same party. They started out as a protest movement against the modern political surge, but it was soon clear, that humanism was not one of their motives and that it was actually a protest movement against political correctness. They claim to have brought up a number of issues, not discussed in politics, because their adherents are mostly people who do not follow politics, but are obviously frustrated and fearfull of a number of issues.

In that original post I wondered how one of the representatives wanted to save money by shipping Finnish prisoners to Estonia across the sea, though she had no idea what that would actually cost or how happy the Estonians might be in housing Finnish criminals. One of them was happy about the fact that Finland is no longer as conservative as it used to be,  so that he could change his name. How he reconciled that with the fact, that he is the representative of the most conservative party in Finland is still unclear to me.  And a third dude in the very same party had the audacity to oppose a new mosque being build in our capital Helsinki, because he saw it as “anti-nationalistic”. This was an outrage in my view as we have the freedom of religion and as there have been Muslims in Finland for longer than the country has been indipendend and Muslim soldiers have fought, bled and died for Finland. To me opposing a new Mosque in a country with freedom of religion and a growing Muslim population is appalling and barbaric.

Right after I had written that post, the same dude, a parliamentary representative no less, Olli Immonen who was opposing the new Mosque in Helsinki, came out in the internet where he wanted to support his compatriots to fight against a nightmare, that he reckoned multiculturalism represented. This he wrote in English, wich kind of reveals how he does not even understand the concept of multiculturalism. This caused a number of rather spontaneous demonstrations of thousands and tens of thousands of Finnish people around the country, who wanted to remind his supporters, of the simple fact, that Finland is actually a multicultural nation and has been from the very beginning of our written history, not to mention our rather new indipendence. Yes, I was there demonstrating against such nonsense. This in turn has caused a terrible storm of hatred in the social media. The party reacted first claiming that he was drunk when he wrote it, because in Finland that serves as an excuse for just about anything, but he claimed to have been sober enough. Why did the party officials lie about his soberness? It was just a nother cover up of their stupid representatives with hatefilled rethorics.

Now, as this party that rode into power on the dark horse of fear of the unknown and on some occasions even outright hatred of the immigrant and on their supposed defence of the little people (as long as those were Finnish speaking and born in Finland) is squirming with the two other major right wing parties whose main concerns are to defend the priviledges of the rich, industrialists and the landowners, but who are sane enough to appeal to the so called middle classes and moral enough not to oppose helping refugees in distress, is somewhat curious. I fear however, that most of their voters are unable to see how they have been betrayed and tricked.

The strong man of the True Finns Timo Soini has a talent for not saying anything while appearing as he made very steadfast remarcks. He opens his mouth and out come these things that have been named according to him as “Soinisms”. They seem unlike the political jargon we have gotten used to. They are very unofficial and constructed of such nonsensical but firm metaphors, that the listener could project their worst emotions through them. It is a new kind of leadership in Finland, but it seems to appeal to the uneducated. But from time to time even he has to take a stand on various issues. One of the latest ones was, that Finland should help the refugees, but only the women, children and Christians. I guess it is because of all the fuss, wild and ridiculous claims made by the Finns Party representatives in such a short while and how they have assimilated the role of the victim whose liberty of speech is somehow threatened, when people have engaged and challenged their unrealistic views, why this went pretty much under the radar. But if it were not for the previous mad outcomes, preferring Christians as refugees would have been quite an outrage in this rather secular country.

Timo Soini a devout Catholic and as such a representative of ridiculously small minority in Finland. He has also played out the Christians are the most persecuted group of people in the world today card. Wich to me regardless who uses it, is merely a nother “Soinism”. He referred to a number of conflicts around the globe, like Nigeria, Eritrea, Egypt, Irak and Syria as examples. But how do you calculate such? Are the Syrian Kurds for example somehow less persecuted, than the Christians around the Globe? I very much doubt that. Does the ISIL terrorise Christians somehow more than they do for example Shia Muslims? No? If one puts all Christians into one basket, then they are no longer the most persecuted group on any method of calculus. But if you divide the Kopti Christians of Egypt into a separate group, is them being persecuted somehow more serious, than what is happening for example to the Palestinians?

Soini and his party opposes any division of refugees between the EU countries, because they want to stay at least on some level true to their voters, who oppose any “foreigners” from coming to Finland. But it is the most purest form of hypocrisy, as if Finland was suddenly filled with tens of thousands of refugees from, for example Russia, would not he and his lot be the foremost people to ask for other EU countries to help out and share the amount of refugees?

In a short while the deeds of extremists have once again reached a new peak in Europe.

The attack of the Islamist idiots on a comedy magazine in France was one. The comedy about their religion was because too many of the figureheads of their religion are prone to call for wanton acts of murder. By revenging the ridicule in a wanton act of murder they have now proven… What? That the ridicule was deserved. Nothing more.

Just a short while earlier some other idiots threw Molotov cocktails in Swedish mosques full of people. What did these idiots try to achieve? Sympathy for the Muslims? Propably the not, but that is exactly what they did achieved. For sure they did achieved more fear and chaos as well. Division between different groups of people. Nationalism, just as well as any religion may be used as an excuse for violence for the people who are different. But being different does not equal evil. We are all different.

Such violence does create more violence on both sides and the nutters, who orchestrated these acts because of hate and fear they feel for the different people, get to live and die in an even more frightening society. Only now, they think they have achieved some control over the situation simply by acting. They have not. They have merely set forth more chaos and fear. Such sense of control and security are mere illusions.

Many of the Islamic countries are under exploitation by western corporations. But the Islamists do not attack the corporations, rather the western society. The very real exploitation and western support for apartheid in Israel, interventions against Islamic countries feed the sense of injustice, that the demagogues are all too happy to exploit. What these demagogues really fear, is not the exploitation, but the secularisation in western countries in wich the “traditional values” of the religious demagogues having power are eventually diminishing to nothing.

What does the Swedish racist thinking “critcally about immigration” really fear? A change into a society in wich the different people would no longer be classified as somehow less than the natural born ethnic Swede. The change has already passed, but the racist, who has nothing else to show for himself, other than his heritage, clings on to it. The trouble the people coming from troubled countries might bring with them is just an excuse. An excuse so often used to hide the feeling of imaginary superiority by race or nationality, that it has sometimes become even the main “reason”. But the true reason is the fear of unknown. Different people have unknown habits that the stupid would rather not even know of (exept when making up excuses for different level of abuse and violence) that make the stupid very frightened. And when stupid people are scared they lash out.

People have their motives to act. These motives do not come straight from any particular religion or even ideology, such as nationalism. If they did most of the world would be in total chaos. They come from the chaotic lives of these individuals. From their individual fears manipulated by clever demagogues through ideologies and religions. The ideologies and religions make these poor sods susceptible to such manipulation, however. If we give in to the fear promoted by such acts, we will end up in chaos.It is kind of sad that these martyrs of the causes and their manipulators alike are just victims of their culture, but mainly of their fears. These are the deeds done to overcome senseless fear of the other. People fear what they do not know and ignorance for sure increases unnecessary fears. Stupidity makes people to act on such fears, that they – regrettably – feel as very real indeed.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to the dark side… And there we have the powerhungry demagogues waiting. Victims of their own blindness and thirst for power. And the people who submit themselves to be the puppets of these leaders are actually just mirror images of each other, be they of what ever ethnic, or religious backround.

It is all about the question of wich kind of society would we prefer to live in and about the veil of ignorance. If we would not know (as none of us do) before we were born, into wich position and wich society we shall be born into, what sort of society would we choose? The kind where one is not persecuted because of ones cultural heritage? The kind where anything, that is laughable, is laughed at and not taken seriously? Where any issues may be discussed even in a humoristic sense?

I trust and hope, that the French and Swedish alike the rest of European countries shall react intelligently and in a civilized manner and not use this as an excuse to create more segragation. Because it is segragation, segragation in extreme to different nations and races, segragation to different religions etc., that is behind these sorts of acts of hate and idiocy…

If there ever was a historical period, that was burdened with myths, it is the medieval European culture. In contrast, we have surpricingly sobre picture of the Mediterranean antiquity and their culture. This is because of the medieval monks, who painstakingly copied some of the histories and high scholarship of the ancient philosophers. Only occasionally did the monks add anything to the ancient scriptures, to mold them to more reflect their own worldviews. The monks lived in a culture that was obsessed about the truth being found from the ancient scriptures, hence they did put a great value on the ancient wisdom. That wisdom did affect even the monks and scholars of the all encompassing Catholic church. That is one of the reasons for the division within even such very authoritarian international system as the medieval church.

Most myths about the medieval times now familiar to us were infact invented during the centuries after what we now in hindsight call medieval times. Many of them were invented by the religious reformists acting against the Catholic churhc, in order to oppose any sentiments of lost golden age by those who might yearn for times when Christendom stood almost undivided and the Roman Catholic church ruled over almost all of Europe. Propaganda to remind people, that those seemingly unified times of western church were not such happy times at all. Such propaganda came from the necessity, that the new protestant movements could not blame the Catholic church for crimes that were equally manifest in the newly founded protestant societies – like for example social inequality.

The philosophers of enlightenment period and their agnostic and deist values have been blamed for launching some of those myths degrading the medieval era and especially blaming the allencompassing Catholic church value base. However, it is more like they were the victims of their predecessors in a society that knew precious little about the past other than anecdotes and was only just on the brink of the invention of actual scientific methodology, not to speak about the application of this method to investigate history and historical claims.

The problem of historical research is, that the vast amount of knowledge to even understand the research results of any one particular subject is ever surmounting and seems difficult to handle. Therefore historical research drags some of the assumptions of the past generations and those form the common understanding of history. Outdated studies with questionable methodology get referred to and act as authority. Of course, the study of history is like any other science – self correcting and ultimately we can leave myths to the place they deserve, but unavoidably the biases people have by political, or religious views affect the interpretation of results.

A new phenomenon, now that we have started to understand how much of medieval times have been misunderstood, or misrepresented, is that some people want to rehabilitate the entire period. Since we now understand that medieval people actually washed themselves and did not live in squallor (at least if they were wealthy enough to choose not to), it still does not mean that for example the crusades were a good idea nor morally justifiable by such ethically acceptable notions as self-defence.

Who would defend the crusaders? Several groups of people might be interrested in defending the justification of these holy wars. One group is the right wing political looneys, who as ever the nazies, are always ready to distort history for their own cause. Today, in Europe at least, the anti-semitists of the past day have very racistic feelings for the immigrants from the rest of the world (at least as long as we are not talking about a bought wife from South-East-Asia). They share suspicion of Islam with the extremist Christian groups who would also creamcoat the crusades as these have been a big question mark on the benevolent nature of general Christianity and of course we have some extreme Catholics, who, are indeed ever disturbed by the constant reminders of the questionable nature of their form of faith and cause.

This serves as a great wittness to the victory of secular ethics and morality over religious tribal moralism as even the religious people finally accept that the mere word of a god transmitted by some demagogue (in the case of the crusades invariably the pope) to kill people seems like an undefendable moral position. However, this was not the case for the crusader. He did not have to invent such ethical excuses like claim to self-defence to attack the heretic, infidel, or pagan, as he had every reason by the social values of his surrounding society to kill those enemies of the”mother” church and conquer the holy sites like Jerusalem.

Such disfiguration of history as to claim, that the crusaders were only defending Europe, are of course ridiculous. Some crusades were indeed launched as a response to a plea of help by the Byzantine empire, who was attacked by the Turkish tribes, but they did very little to help the schismatic Byzantines. Instead they moved straight to Palestine to conquer Jerusalem and some of the neighbouring cities. And after they had been driven out of the “Outremer” they finally backstabbed the Byzantine empire by conquering their capital Constantinople, after wich the Christian empire never really regained it’s former strength and was slowly devoured by the advancing and consolidating Turks.

One of the myths concerning medieval times is that the crusades were against the Muslims. No they were not. Most of the crusaders had no idea of what a Muslim is before they arrived to Palestine and most of the crusades were not even directed there, or elswhere against the Muslims, but against other Christians within Europe.

A crusader in the 1st Crusade of King Magnus 1348 to Russia.

A crusader in the 1st Crusade of King Magnus 1348 to Russia.

I have a couple of words in defence of the crusaders… Surpriced? I believe most of them set of to war in a distant land in good faith, that what they were doing was ultimately right and justified by the ultimate authority of a particular god. I think they were wrong, and their deeds were mostly just evil. It is terrifying how people end up doing all sorts of evil not motivated only by personal greed, but by false beliefs, that they have a good cause to do the evil. They were the victims of social and religious indoctrination and ignorance of ultimately a violent society.

What is the most absurd myth about medieval times you have run into?