Rootsie's European Roots  

Trying to burn all the books  
by Rootsie
June 20, 2003  
Samuel Huntington's book The Clash of Civilizations was published in the early 1990's. Right wing policy-makers have apparently picked it up and run with it. Huntington concludes that Muslim and Judeo-Christian 'civilizations' are incompatible. That democracy as the West understands it is not within Islamic capacities, which of course begs the question as to whether democaracy is within European/American capacities. But leaving that aside for the moment, what conclusion is one to draw from Huntington's thesis? Well, the ruling elite has drawn theirs, and it is that Islam must be wiped from the face of the earth.

But what if Islamic civilization IS the antecedent of all we consider to be European? In the broad range of history of course this is so, as the early African civilizations seeded the development of the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent and India 5000 years ago, but the sea- change of which I am speaking now came over Europe fewer than 800 years ago.

And I now pose my question: was the decimation of Iraqi history a primary objective of this war? Does the 'New World Order' mean that, like the twin towers, the old must be razed to clear the way for the new?

What would have been found in Iraq's sacked museums? Leaving aside the relics of Mesopotamian/Sumerian civilization of over 5000 years ago. acknowledged as the root culture of Europe (ignoring Africa of course), what was in those museums was the evidence of a creative, curious, tolerant, and even secular (non-religious) culture in Islam up into the 14th Century CE. In those museums were every available Greek text of the time translated into Arabic and disseminated throughout the Muslim world, translated by the Abbasids, who build their magnificent circular city of Bagdhad 1200 years ago. There were books of secular poetry which predated Islam, the love poetry which formed so greatly the sensibilities of the ones who later became Muslim. There were the 'framed stories' later known as the Arabian Nights, which led directly to the supposed European 'invention' of the modern novel. There were philosophical and religious commentaries. Histories.Geographies. Mathematical and scientific treatises.

All of this rich bounty made its way in Ummayad (i.e. 'Moorish') Spain, and through war and conquest into Europe, where it lit up all the transistors: Cervantes, Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare,considered the fathers of European literature. Gallileo and Copernicus, the astronomers. St. Thomas Aquinas the Christian theologian.It was Muslim philosophers who taught the Christians and Jews to DO theology: the enormous influence of the Avicenna and Averroes, both al Andalus (i.e. 'Spanish') Muslims is openly acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Church to this day.

Al Andalus was a complex ISLAMIC culture which revelled in its wild diversity, creating architectural treasues, most now lost, that drew from Muslim,Roman and Visigothic elements united in stunning visual harmony. The grand mosque in Cordoba, now a cathedral, is a remaining example. Abbasid Iraq and Ummayad Spain sought to embrace the paradoxes: Christians and Jews became prime ministers (viziers) to the caliphs, were renouned soldiers, philosophers, mystics, poets, architects, mathematicians, scientists, and one and all spoke and thought and wrote in Arabic.

The Arabic language itself provided a model of a language with the fluidity to be both sacred and secular, the language of God-talk, of science,of commerce, of popular literature, especially love poetry. The 'Mozarabic' language that the blend of cultures gave rise to in al Andalus provided the precendent for the first Latin vernacular (native popular) language, which was Castillian Spanish. The Norman conquerors came down across the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain in 1066 and fell in love. They became thoroughly Arabized, and when they returned to France they brought with them singers and poets to Provence in southern France. Those 'bards' of Provence' are universally acknowledged as the first truly European poets. They were Spanish Arabs.

It is difficult to read this history of the pre- and post-Crusades period (800 CE and 1400 CE) and conclude anything other than that everything we commonly associate with the best of European culture came directly from these tolerant Islamic translators of one culture to another. The Muslims gave Greek philosophy to Europe. Imagine who had to be in the same room in al Andalus or in Iraq translating a text from Greek to Arabic to Hebrew and Latin: no wonder Maria Rosa Menocal, who writes of this period in her Ornament of the World says, "A culture of translation is a culture of tolerance."

Then, like now, there existed in Islam the Shi'ite counterforce, the Berbers in what is now Morroco. They were horrified by the Andalusian spectacle, and when they invaded al Andalus they levelled the greatest treasures of Cordoba, its capital, killed Jews, and generally tried to shut the whole operation down. But strangely, maybe under the influence of the Andalusian air, they also made stunning architectural statements, such as the Alhambra in the city of Granada, and in many ways surrendered to the tolerant atmosphere of al Andalus.

Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, the monarchs that united Christian Spain and pushed the last Muslims out, were married in Moorish robes. With the reconquest of Spain, they made the Alhambra, the desert wonder of water and light, their palace. But they took on the forms of al Andalus culture only, and attempted to utterly crush the substance of the Islamic statement in Spain, with the Inquisition and its forced conversions, massacres, and forced exile of all non-Christians.

In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella finished the 'Reconquista', expelled the Jews, and sent Colombus across the water to found the modern capitalist empire, based on imperialism as the source of all capital.

Now one could hardly argure that the Spanish Inquisition was not one of Christianity's best moments: my question is, why do we now judge and condemn the whole of Islam on the basis of ITS fundamentalists? I believe the answer is because such a judgement gives the pretext for total elimination.

Does the European/U.S. cabal want to see 'a peaceful transition to democracy' in Iraq? Certainly not. At the end of the day they want to be able to say something along the lines of,

"See? They are not like you and me. They are not capable of adopting Western democracy and institutions."

The bottom line is that the Muslims (and if we pay attention to Huntington, the Chinese) are the final obstacles that stand in the way of "Total Global Domination."

Lord forbid that we should realize that 'they' ARE us. So sack them museums, baby, and burn them books just one more time. Every Arabic text that seeded the European Renaissance was thrown on the pyre, along with many human beings. And today as much as then, one of the spoils of war is this grand opportunity to erase history, in 1492 as today, the history of this unique and brilliant Islamic culture, which tolerated and even embraced those of other faiths in a creative explosion of cultural diversity spanning 800 years.

It is so very important for the New World Order strategists to paint Iraq and the entire Muslim world as 'other', as alien to 'Western values', in order to justify what is a long-term strategy of the destruction of the Islamic world.

But the problem always with trying to burn all the books, all the evidence of an alternative history, is that some troublemaker goes down to the used book sale and finds something for a quarter, just as Cervantes' narrator in Don Quixote (the first 'European novel') goes down to the ghetto where the 'Conversos' (those Muslims forced to convert to Christianity) live, where they make the banned Arabic books into rags, and finds a story...and realizes it belongs to all of us.


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Amazon Books

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong
A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong

The Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal
The Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal

Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson, Runoko Rashidi, John Henrik Clarke
Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson, Runoko Rashidi, John Henrik Clarke