Obama, ISIS and the Inquisition
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, February 12, 2015


“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

— President Barack Obama, speaking at annual national Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 5, a few days after radical Muslims released a video in which they burned a young Jordanian pilot alive in a cage.

Of all the statements made by presidents or any other politicians that I’ve heard in my lifetime, this was the most outrageous — and for anyone who hasn’t heard or read it, I must write about it here.

This month we celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Imagine him on his magnificent white high horse, as he fought to begin a better human history, being told that in 235 years American voters would elect a president who’d respond to evil by saying, well, other people have been evil too. The prayer breakfast statement would be dumb to say about any bad behavior at any time by any one, but keep in mind that America didn’t exist during the Crusades (1095-1291) or the Inquisition (1492), so the Christians noted by Obama weren’t Americans. What was the point of his comment at an American prayer breakfast following an act of radical Muslim terror?

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Imagine him at a prayer breakfast telling abolitionists to get off their high horse, that slavery has existed throughout human history so why be outraged by those southerners who practice it in 1863?


We’ve turned this part of February into Presidents’ week, to honor all who’ve held our nation’s highest elected position, so unfortunately, the great merged with the mediocre, and now include the worst president in history.

No normal person, never mind one elected president by American voters, would address the burning alive of a young pilot, during a period of kidnapping, rape and slaughter of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, the burying alive and crucifixion of children, happening now, in real time, by lecturing us about the bad things Christians did in 1192, in 1492.

I’d wonder why the emphasis on Christians in his speech, since all religions have done bad things, but fear the answer is obvious: Obama is, incredibly, attempting to make moral equivalency between the worst elements of the Muslim religion, today, and the worst historical elements of what is presently the largest American religion, just to get America off its “high horse” of exceptionalism, which he has always disavowed.

It would have been fair to remind his audience that not all Muslims are beheading infidels, and noting that almost all the varied Muslim sects, even many terrorists, are as horrified as we by the burning of the pilot. But that’s not what he did. He reached back into the 12th and 15th centuries, and even half a century of our own time, to compare Christians to radical Muslims, so that we can, what? — identify with them?

ISIS — the Islamic State, which wants to conquer the world and force us all to submit to sharia law in a radical Muslim caliphate — is evil. Those who join it have made a decision that they can live their lives only within the cult of hatred — of infidels in general, of independent women and gays in particular, certainly of Israel, which has achieved so much against centuries of terrible odds.

Raised Catholic myself, I was taught that evil exists in the form of a red, forked-tail devil; I eventually stopped believing in this manifestation, but still found evil when I read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” then learned about the Holocaust.


I also learned about the Crusades, but a romanticized version: the Catholic textbook and teaching nuns made the Crusaders heroes, not mentioning their atrocities en route to save the Holy Land for Christianity. I loved the epic poem about Roland, nephew of Charlemagne, holding the pass in Spain against the Saracens — the name given to Muslims at that time.

However, somewhere I picked up some balance, I think in the stories from my favorite Robin Hood era, about King Richard, who led the Third Crusade against the noble Saladin; and the movie “El Cid,” who drove the Moors from Spain, where they had a great culture, building monuments still admired today.

The Inquisition had no redeeming qualities: my own present Christianity comes from Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor,” a story within “The Brothers Karamazov.” Jesus returns to earth, to Seville, where he is imprisoned as a threat to what his Church has become. The Grand Inquisitor tells him that civilization can only be saved through fear, by men being forced to obey. Jesus doesn’t buy this; his libertarian response is a high point in world literature.

I love that Jesus. So even if I’d been around, I wouldn’t have committed terrible deeds in His name; wouldn’t have burned infidels in the Inquisition, any more than excusing it in the present Islamic State. I was a young northerner during the Civil Rights era, horrified when learning about actions by the Ku Klux Klan. But this has nothing to do with today, despite Obama bringing race into so many discussions.

Today, I want the president of my country to set aside his intellectual discourse about history, and simply share our disgust at the evil actions of ISIS while vowing to somehow destroy it.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.

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