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In Norway, Textbook Degringolade
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The new revelations about “Palestinian” textbooks are only part of the problem of miseducation. We have grown wearily accustomed to claims that those who form part of the Judeo-Christian world, the world of Europe and North America, the heirs of the Enlightenment, the upholders of mental freedom and human rights, are guilty of every conceivable historical crime against the “others” whom we have conquered and whose lands we have supposedly laid waste. We have grown weary, too, of all those tales about the admirable “others,” which nowadays, is taken to mean not just non-whites, but also, and mainly, Muslims, the historic enemies of the Judeo-Christian West, who are absolved of all such crimes themselves, and depicted only as victims of European villainy.
A little over a year ago, an intrepid Norwegian decided to study his country’s textbooks to see how they described both Europeans, and the “others” — that is, those, non-whites and/or Muslims, with whom those Europeans came in contact.
Here is what he found:
In Norwegian textbooks, Europeans are systematically portrayed as abusers, imperialists, and exploiters. By contrast, non-whites are ascribed the role of victims, signalling an anti-Western bias, a new study has claimed.
“Something to do with European supremacy,” a new study by Bergen University student Kristoffer Tyssøy Høisæther, has uncovered double standards in the way history is being presented in Norwegian textbooks used today in elementary and high schools.
According to Høisæther, there is a pronounced difference in the way Western and Islamic history in the Middle Ages is portrayed. In general, there tends to be an overemphasis on the problematic aspects of Western history, as opposed to a prevalent omission of problematic aspects within Islamic history.
“The most remarkable finding in my work is how Europeans are consistently portrayed as ‘abusers’, as opposed to other cultures and peoples, who continually hold a sacrificial role”, Høisæther wrote in an article in the news outlet Resett.
To quantify this finding, the author listed 25 instances of massacres, mass killings and genocides depicted in history books, all of which were carried out by Europeans. By contrast, Muslims and Jews are exclusively given the role of victim.
Think of what had to have been left out. The entire story of the rapid Muslim conquest of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, all in the first century of Islam’s existence, was punctuated by mass killings, of which there was not a word in the Norwegian textbooks. Once they conquered Spain, Muslims at various times conducted pogroms, as with the 4,000 Jews who were killed in Granada on January 31, 1066. Again, no mention of this. The Muslims continued for centuries to raid up and down the coasts of Europe, killing any who resisted, and seizing and enslaving, according to Western historians, more than one million white slaves. In one memorable raid, Muslims in 1631 attacked the town of Baltimore, in Ireland, where they captured and made off with everyone — between 107-227 people — for a lifetime of slavery in Algiers. The Muslims continued to attack Christian shipping in the Mediterranean for centuries, both for whatever cargo they might be carrying, and to seize and enslave the Christian crews. This practice, in which Europeans were the victims and Muslims the victimizers, continued until the young American Republic refused to pay ransom for its ships and crews, and instead successfully ended the threat of the “Barbary Pirates.”
In covering the Crusades, the textbooks in Norway apparently mention only the massacres by, and not of, the Christians. The Crusades themselves are presented as an act of unfathomable Christian aggression, prompted by a motiveless malignity. But the Crusades were finally a reaction to centuries of Muslim conquest, that had resulted in the loss of the once-Christian Middle East, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the forces of Islam. The eleventh century began with new restrictions placed on Christians in the Holy Land, imposed by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim, who in 1009 also ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. By the end of the eleventh century, the Byzantines were under assault by the Seljuk Turks, who then requested aid from Rome.That is how the Crusades began. The campaigns were bloody on both sides, and certainly it was proper to describe Crusader atrocities against Jews by Crusaders in the Rhineland as they made their way to the East, and further atrocities against both Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land. But what was improper, and deeply disturbing, is that the textbooks the Norwegian scholar examined never make mention of Muslim atrocities.
Although there are have been many endless cases of massacres and genocide by Muslims, the worst surely has been the mass killings of Hindus by Muslims who arrived as invaders and remained as rulers. The respected Indian historian K. S. Lal has claimed that 70-80 million Hindus were killed over several centuries. But there’s not a word about them in the Norwegian texts. Such an omission is scandalous.
Also left out of these highly tendentious textbooks, apparently, is the genocide of 1.5 Armenians, and the killings of about one million other Christians (Greeks, Assyrians), by Muslim Turks in the 30-years from 1894 to 1924.
Nor is there any mention of contemporary mass murdering by Muslims, especially the attempted genocide of the Yazidis by members of Isis.
“The willingness to place Europeans solely in the role of the abusers is highly reprehensible, and this is undoubtedly instrumental in creating a very distorted picture of history,” Høisæther wrote.
In one textbook, “cruelty and greed” were called “typical European characteristics.” Furthermore, Western prosperity was attributed to “gross exploitation of other peoples.” While European immigration to America “wiped out millions of Indians”, non-European conquests are portrayed in a much more peaceful way, such as “the Arabs spread out over a vast area.” Similarly, trade in the Indian Ocean, which included millions of slaves, is portrayed as a “flourishing enterprise and a multifaceted contact across cultures, religions and languages.” Such a description for the Atlantic trade carried out by Europeans is hardly imaginable.
The European immigrants did indeed “wipe out millions of Indians,” through battles, disease, loss of native habitat through appropriation of land by the Europeans. But again, textbooks that correctly convey this information are obligated to describe what the Muslim conquest from the Atlantic to western China meant for those who were conquered. With the genocide of Hindus in India alone amounting to 70-80 million people, what was the total number of victims of Muslim conquests and subsequent Muslim rule? It had to have been far more than 100 million. To leave that out of the textbooks is an outrage.
“The Arabs spread out over a vast area” is an anodyne description of a bloody history. How did they “spread out”? We are not told, but many educated people know it was almost always by military conquest. Muslim conquerors were only following the 109 Quir’anic verses that command Muslims to wage Jihad until the whole world submits to Islam, and Muslims rule, everywhere. Muslim armies conquered many lands and many peoples, and left the conquered non-Muslims with three options: death, conversion to Islam, or acceptance of the status of dhimmi, which imposed many onerous conditions, including most famously, payment of the Jizyah. This Jizyah was a tax paid to the Muslim state, by non-Muslims, in order prevent Muslim attacks on those “tolerated” non-Muslims known as dhimmis; in other words, it was extortion. Apparently you cannot find in these textbooks any mention of the dhimmis and what was demanded of them.
According to Høisæther, in several comparisons between the West and the Islamic world, the former appears clearly inferior. The Islamic world is claimed to be “distinctly democratic”, whereas the Europeans excelled “in strength and rage.” In another instance, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were allegedly founded on knowledge preserved by Islam.
The Islamic world has never been “distinctly democratic” but, rather, the political preserve of an endless succession of despots. The legitimacy of a government in Western democracies depends on whether it reflects the will of the people, as expressed in elections. The legitimacy of a Muslim ruler depends on how well he enforces the will of Allah, as set down in the Qur’an. He can be, and almost always is, a despot, but as long as he is a good Muslim, his rule should not be opposed.
Describing Europeans as excelling in “strength and rage” is curious. Possibly for the textbook writer, or writers, the word “strength” refers to the superior weaponry, and military tactics, that explain the ultimate success of the Europeans against Muslim enemies. But for many centuries it was the Muslims who had Europeans on the defensive; the failed siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks in 1683 marked the reversal of fortunes. As for the Europeans excelling in “rage,” this claim is plucked from the air. Given the fanaticism of Muslim fighters, their willingness to die fighting the hated Infidel, deaths that guarantee the Muslim “martyrs” entry into the Islamic Heaven, surely they are more entitled than Europeans to be described as excelling in “rage.”
The claim that both the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were “founded on knowledge preserved by Islam” only began to be made during the last few decades, when Western history books have become disseminators of the absurd and the topsy-turvy. The Renaissance does owe one thing to Muslims. Had the Turks not conquered the Byzantines, Greek scholars carrying Greek and Latin manuscripts would not have had to flee Anatolia for Italy, where they created what is called the Revival of Learning, the rediscovery by Christian Europe of the pre-Christian world of classical antiquity, that led to what became known as the Renaissance. For Muslims, by contrast, that world of classical antiquity, which revivified European civilization, was viewed as belonging to the Jahiliyya, or Time of Ignorance, and thus was to be despised.
In the same way, we could give Muslims some back-handed credit for the discovery of the New World, for had Muslim Turkish conquerors not finally sealed off, with the conquest of Constantinople on May 29,1453, the land route to Asia for European traders, Columbus would not have been impelled to seek a new route to the Indies.
As for claiming that the Enlightenment was founded on knowledge preserved by Islam, it is difficult to understand what those Norwegian textbook writers could possibly mean. What knowledge “preserved by Islam” do they have in mind? Do they mean the Arabic texts translated into Latin, and also into Hebrew, Ladino, and Castilian, by the Toledo school of translators? Can Greek texts translated into Arabic by the Christian translators who worked in Baghdad at the Abbasid Caliphate’s Bait al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom, be considered to have been “preserved by Islam”? Or were they not, more exactly, made available by Christians to Arabic readers? The Enlightenment encouraged the questioning of authority, the application of Reason instead of reliance on Faith. But Islam discourages skeptical inquiry and encourages the habit of mental submission, and has done so for 1,400 years. Islam was and remains opposed to everything that the European Enlightenment represents.
While Christianity is portrayed as a brutal and merciless religion, with compulsory conversion and mass executions, the Islamic world, especially the Ottoman Empire, which led expansionist wars for hundreds of years, is praised for its religious tolerance. No attention is devoted to the persecution of non-Muslims in the Middle Ages. Spain under its 700-year Muslim rule is thus portrayed as a peaceful place with various confessions happily co-existing.”
The history of Islam is the history of Jihad, the conquest of many lands and the subjugation of many peoples, to the forces of Islam. Once conquered, non-Muslim peoples were given the choice of being killed, or converting to Islam, or being subject, as dhimmis, to a host of economic, social, and political disabilities, including payment of the Jizyah. Can this reasonably be described as “tolerance” as we understand that concept today? In Spain, the insistence in many Western textbooks that under Islamic rule Muslims, Christians,and Jews all “happily” co-existed is flatly untrue. The pogrom in Granada in 1066, in which Muslims killed 4,000 Jews in one day, was not the only mass-murder of Jews by Muslims; according to the historian Joel Kraemer, Jews learned to practice “prudent dissimulation”before their Muslim masters. There was also the forced exile of many Christians, sent by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126. But the best evidence that Islamic Spain was not the wonderfully tolerant place that some textbooks now claim is the 770-year Reconquista itself. For if Islamic Spain had been so tolerant, why would Spain’s Christians have fought so long and so hard to undo Muslim rule?
What this study of Norwegian textbooks reveals is hardly surprising. The Western world has been consumed for decades with political correctness, and with depicting the “white, European,Western world” as guilty of intolerance, imperialism, colonialism. The West perversely wants to think the worst of itself, and the best of its enemies. But it is Islam, its mass murders (with more than 100 million victims) now overlooked — how many people know the number of Hindus murdered by Muslims in India? — that always spread by force. Islam, too, became the most successful imperialism in human history, by convincing those who were conquered to identify with their conquerors, by converting to Islam, taking Arabic names, even adopting false Arab lineages or, still more absurd, to claim descent, as “Sayyids,” from the Prophet’s own tribe. Islam thus became, as the late scholar Anwar Shaikh has described it, a “vehicle for Arab supremacism.”
This study of how Norwegian history textbooks treat Western and Islamic imperialisms, if widely disseminated and read, can do much good, by holding up for examination the extraordinary claims now being made, for too long slipping under the pedagogic radar, for Islamic tolerance and Western villainy. Let the authors be asked to defend their skewed coverage, in a public discussion and debate. Ideally, they will be suitably shown up, and their textbooks should then be taken out of circulation, to be replaced by others with a greater regard for the truth.
First published in Jihad Watch.