Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Friday, June 10, 2005

James Carroll, (Amateur) Revisionist Historian

The good Doctor at the Daily Demarche posted a fine protest on James Carroll's latest piece in the Boston Globe. In Doc's estimate,
So if I understand this correctly, a generation of German's [sic], some still alive, that killed 6 million plus Jews and caused the deaths of countless millions of others should be forgiven. But acts of religous war that are more than 1270 years in the past merit the reactions we see from Islamofascists today.

However, Doc doesn't go quite far enough in pointing out the revisionism. For instance, Carroll writes,
Across subsequent centuries, in the European memory, Islam posed the great threat to the emerging Christian order. But was that so? Lombards, Normans, Vikings, forces from the Slavic east, and violent contests among Christians themselves all wreaked havoc in Europe, even in Martel's time. As I learned from the historian Tomaz Mastnak, the threat from the Saracens was one among many.

True, the Muslim threat was one among many, but it was by far the most persistent threat. Yes, the Vikings successfully raided and settled parts of Northern Europe for a period of time, and the Lombards, Slavs and others made successful, though relatively short lived gains. The Muslim, however, began a bloody campaign of religiously motivated expansion in the seventh century at Mecca that conquered all of Southwest Asia, North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Anatolia, the Balkans and even Russia for a time. It took a thousand years, until the second defeat of an Ottoman army at the gates of Vienna in the seventeenth century, for expansionist Islam to finally give up its campaigns.

This is nothing new for Mr. Carroll, however. A previous book of his, Constantine's Sword, though it became a New York Times bestseller, was roundly criticized by real historians. For instance, Robert Coates wrote,
Carroll is very good at what he knows: Church theology and philosophy. His picture of the deeply rooted nature of Church and indeed European anti-Semitism should be read, noted and understood, not only by the Catholic Church, but also by Europeans and European governments in general. However, the reader should be aware of his willingness to leave aside facts which don’t quite fit the picture. This is a book written by an American Catholic as atonement for the Catholic Church’s sins against the Jewish people.

And from History House:
History House is not compelled by his rehash of some old ground that seeks to draw an unerringly straight line from Christ to the Holocaust as if it were an inevitability.

And from BrothersJudd, a detailed analysis of Mr. Carroll's work contains this gem:
Let me not dither about this : James Carroll is entitled to his opposition to the Catholic Church but the views he expresses in this book are deranged.

Unless you're short on toilet paper, James Carroll's work is properly placed in the dustbin, along with that of other guilty ex-clergy like Karen Armstrong (who gets a glowing piece from the LA Times, reposted on Islam Today - I wonder why?).