by Ralph Sidway, guest contributor
There’s an old saying about history: It’s written by the winners.
Judging from the posturing and remarks of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, he must either believe they have already won, or are so close as to confidently begin rewriting history even before the United States and Europe formally surrender.
Here is the article to which I am referring:
ERDOGAN CALLS CHRISTIAN BYZANTIUM “A DARK CHAPTER” IN HISTORY
Istanbul, May 30, 2013
The prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the time of Christian emperors in Byzantium “a dark chapter” in history. In Erdogan’s view, in the fifteenth century, after invasion of Constantinople by Muslims, began “the time of enlightenment,” reports Kath.net.
The speech of the conservative Turkish prime minister was made during the laying of the foundation of the new road bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul that took place on May 29–the anniversary of Ottoman invasion of the Byzantine empire 1453.
“We are continuing to write the history today,” said Erdogan during the ceremony.
The Turkish authorities have celebrated the anniversary of the victory over Byzantium by a series of festivities.
President Obama would likely be the last to disagree with Erdogan’s declaration (they are great friends and allies, you know), but hardly any of the Western leaders seem to exhibit even the slightest curiosity about the Byzantine Roman Empire, let alone any historical awareness of this vibrant Christian empire which endured for over a thousand years. Nor do they seem inclined to look at Islam in terms of its historical continuity being extended into our own day.
If they did, they might be surprised to learn of the steady march of Christian martyrs under the Ottoman Muslim domination, including numerous Orthodox Christian patriarchs. They might also be surprised to learn how in every territory where Islam has conquered, the result has been consistently the same: institutionalized persecution and subjugation of non-Muslims.
What Erdogan proudly refers to as “the time of enlightenment” was actually a very dark chapter for millions of Christians, persecuted and downtrodden as second-class citizens through the dhimma system. (It was also not-so-enlightened for the Muslims themselves, with the Ottoman Empire of the nineteenth century earning from its contemporaries the apt title of “Sick Old Man of Europe.”)
In point of historical fact, Byzantium was the “enlightened” state, innovating (to take but a few examples) hospital-based medical care, philanthropic care for the poor, and a Church-inspired and led ethos of charity and social activism. The beloved Orthodox Christian Saint Basil the Great was an instrumental figure in this movement, as was the “golden-tongued” Archbishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople. Both (among many others) incarnated the Christian ideal of care for the sick and the poor, and spread that ideal to the wider Byzantine society.
All this was destroyed and swept away with the Turkish Muslim victory over Byzantium.
In direct contrast, the Turkish Muslims instituted a brutal religious apartheid, imposing tyranny over the conquered Christians, under which all the classic forms of the seventh century Pact of Omar and the Dhimma contract were manifest: Christians had to wear drab, distinctive clothing, give way to Muslims on the street, could not build new churches nor repair existing ones. Crosses were broken off of the remaining churches which were not destroyed or turned into mosques. Their whole way of life was a perpetual state of humiliating decay and enforced subservience. The precept of “collective punishment” meant that if even one Christian disobeyed the terms of the dhimma contract, all would be held responsible, leading to frequent pogroms by the Muslims against the Greeks, often just on the basis of rumors (as seen today in Egypt and other Islamic countries).
Islamic law undergirds Islamic culture, and is thus directly responsible for what is commonly called the Armenian Genocide, which was not merely a single event in 1915 in which 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Turkish Muslims, but which spanned from the anti-Christian pogroms of 1894 to the destruction of the ancient Christian city of Smyrna in 1922, and reverberated up through the anti-Christian riots in Istanbul of 1955. During this whole period, an estimated 3.5 million Orthodox Christian Greeks, Armenians and Syrians were killed, or died of starvation and sickness during forced marches. The Christian population of Istanbul was nearly exterminated during the twentieth century, from over 100,000 in 1920 to approximately only 2,000 today. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, many of whose predecessors were put to death under Ottoman rule, bravely suffers and struggles on, in spite of the deplorable persecution which surrounds him on every side.
To this day, the Turkish government refuses to accept responsibility for its historically documented genocide against the Christians. And, as seen in Erdogan’s chest-thumping remarks, the Turkish Muslims remain obstinately proud of their brutal history, from the centuries of war against Constantinople until its fall in 1453, its centuries of cruel domination of native Christian populations, and its continuation of this supremacist mindset into the present day.
Erdogan and Turkey celebrate the Fall of Constantinople, and the West congratulates them. “We are continuing to write history today,” says Erdogan, and write it — or re-write it — they do, under the somnambulant gaze of craven Western leaders too ignorant, or too fearful, to challenge Islam’s claim to moral superiority, historical righteousness and eventual world domination. By their policies, posture and pronouncements, Western European nations, and the United States, are conceding the future to a rapidly re-Islamicizing Turkey, and are aiding in Islam’s stated goal of a new, global caliphate determined to conquer us, just as it conquered Constantinople 560 years ago.
Every Turkish celebration of 29 May 1453 is a gauntlet flung down in challenge to the West. Each such event which goes unanswered and unchallenged by the West is another nail in the coffin of Christian culture, human rights, and free people everywhere. There are thus many reasons to repudiate Erdogan’s historical revisionism.
But the main reason is simple: it simply isn’t true.