Rick Santorum Defends the Crusades

Rick Santorum may or may not be insane, but he certainly doesn’t know anything about history:

Rick Santorum launched into a scathing attack on the left, charging during an appearance in South Carolina that the history of the Crusades has been corrupted by “the American left who hates Christendom.”

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” Santorum said in Spartanburg on Tuesday. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”

He added, “They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”

After asserting that Christianity had not shown any “aggression” to the Muslim world, the former Pennsylvania senator — who is considering a 2012 run for the White House — argued that American intervention in the Middle East helps promote “core American values.”

So he’s defending the Crusades and directly linking them, a bloodthirsty, rapacious, avaricious assault on the “Holy Land” and on Islam generally, to the Iraq War and other warmongering interventions (i.e., invasions) in the Middle East?

It’s like he’s trying to out-Palin Palin. Which of course he is. He’s dropping hints about running, he’s making high-profile appearances in early-primary states like South Carolina, and he’s evidently trying to capture the right-wing Republican base that loves Palin in order to succeed against the likes of Romney and Pawlenty — the former who has yet to win over conservatives (and who never will) and who will only win moderates and perhaps business-oriented conservatives, the latter who is trying desperately to come across as a hardcore social conservative but who is a dull midwestern governor who may only win establishment Republicans, if anyone at all. Should Palin not run, there will be room in the race for a far-righter. It may not be Huckabee, who’s a bit of a renegade anyway, and it won’t be Pence, and it’s not Rubio’s time yet, and no doubt most of the smarter Republicans realize it’s a long shot to beat Obama in any event, so maybe it’ll be Santorum who fills the void.

Makes sense, even if Santorum himself does not.

I would just note, getting back to the Crusades, that it’s not really a “scathing” attack if it’s completely crazy and utterly ill-founded.

And it doesn’t mean you hate Christianity, and certainly not “Western Civilization,” when you point out that the Crusades were pretty bloody violent and that the Christians who went on them were not entirely motivated by those noble and supposedly “Christian” ideals of peace, love, and understanding. They were about conquering the Holy Land, yes, but also about raping and plundering and making off with as much booty as possible, and the targets were not just Muslims but Jews and others as well, including other, non-Roman Catholic Christians (Santorum, by the way, is Roman Catholic), and of course domestic politics played into them as well. (It was all quite complicated, much more complicated than Santorum’s ignorantly superficial revisionism suggests.)

To anyone who actually cares about, and seeks to understand, history, Santorum’s claim is simply ridiculous. But of course he’s appealing not to those who care about history, nor to those who live in reality and seek to deal with reality as is, but to the extremist Republican base, to those who live deeply embedded in ignorance, delusion, and deception, willfully or otherwise.

It’s too early to say how well he’s doing, but he’s sure going for it.