May 29th, 2011 09:19 EST
Bin Laden's Killing is a Good Time to Recall An Earlier Muslim Terrorist Attack on Ireland
Baltimore, Ireland, 1631
It`s a great pity history isn`t a pair of glasses we could put on to correct our vision before we drive straight into an accident. Depending on the so-called news is willful night blindness.
Take the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the attacks we have now avenged by killing their mastermind, Osama bin Laden. There was nothing new about them, except that the United States was the victim this time, instead of, say, France or Ireland or Scandinavia. Yes, all those lands and many others have been attacked by Muslims. Sometimes the raiders were pirates, sometimes they were soldiers and sailors, sometimes, as on September 11th, they were fanatical assassins. And it`s fairly safe to say there are no Muslim lands that have not been attacked by non-Muslims.
Indeed Christians have been just as single-minded in their attacks not only on Muslim lands but also those of fellow Christians. The first Crusaders started out by slaughtering innocent Jews in the Mainz region of Germany. They marched east, sacking Christian citadels and looting their Byzantine co-religionists. By the time they actually encountered the bad guys, " the Muslims, they were already filthy rich with Christian loot.
And one has only to study the evolution of the map of the former Palestine to see a modern land grab in progress, involving a great deal of bloodshed, brutality and hypocrisy.
Whose record is clean? Who has not spoken with a forked tongue? Whose sword is not bloody? Murderers and pillagers come in all stripes, flying the flags of all religions and speaking with great authority and self-righteousness. The corporate trademark, War Inc., can hardly be patented by any one nation or religion.
Let us ask the Irish about this. Yes, the Irish know a great deal about Muslim terrorism, and British terrorism, and their own terrorism against each other, too.
A number of Irish writers have written about the June 20, 1631, sack of the Irish fishing village of Baltimore by Algerian pirates. King Charles I was on the throne, and the incident shook his throne more than 9/11 shook George W. Bush`s chair.
The attack was led by a renegade Dutchman and accounts sometimes call the attackers Turks, Turkomen, Mussulmans, Saracens or Barbary pirates. The confusion probably comes from the fact that the Ottoman Empire then extended over North Africa and the pirates were based in Algiers.
Calling these pirates by so many names would be like calling our troops in Afghanistan or the SEALs who killed Osama Crusaders, Christians, Infidels, Vandals, looters, assassins "all names which are being used on the web as you read this. We of course call them our Special Forces and are righteous in our indignation. Indignation is always a good cover-up for pillage. And you give me a religion and I`ll give you something to get het up about. Looting and religion go hand in glove with indignation.
Righteous indignation married to mendacity and greed has characterized Christians, Jews, Muslims and just about every other people in the world at various times for various reasons. The world would be a much better place if we could put on glasses that would enable us to see this picture in its proper perspective and not as phenomena unique to us and our time. The press likes to use the word unprecedented, but almost nothing is unprecedented, and there are plenty of Irish web sites to testify to this.
Roger Derham, a contemporary Irish doctor and publisher, based his exciting novel The Simurgh and the Nightingale on this incident, giving us an unforgettable Irish woman physician who made a great name for herself among the Muslims after being kidnapped to Algiers from Baltimore.
Tim Severin in Corsair and Des Ekin in The Stolen Village wrote fervidly about the same attack. It`s imbedded in Irish memory with the help of any number of archives, books and web sites.
King Charles wasn`t any more effective than George W. Bush in reacting to this affront to peaceableness. His high and mighty ideas about divine prerogatives eventually cost him his head. Muslim pirates were the least of his worries. His enemies were closer to home in Parliament. Besides, what befell the Irish was not of primary concern to the English except as it affected their land-grabbing.
Nor were the Irish, or English for that matter, of great concern to the Ottoman capital in Istanbul or the loot-happy deys of Algiers. They had the entire Mediterranean as their trough. The Barbary Pirates had much in common with Wall Street, and the reason we put them out of business had much to do with business, our business, and little to do with morality.
The Ottoman sultan and the Algiers dey would have been delighted if England had decided to bankrupt itself avenging the sack of Baltimore. Well, not too delighted. They had many fish to fry, but it would have made for some amusing talk over hookahs. And it`s not hard to imagine America`s enemies grinning at our bankrupting ourselves in Afghanistan. Living well would have been a better revenge and would, at the end of the day, made it much easier to get even. But our enemies count on us losing our heads, waving flags, calling for blood, indebting ourselves to bankers, impoverishing our people. The real victors in this tragedy are the bankers, because war debt is the most lucrative of all debts.
And the Irish certainly knew better than to depend on the English for protection, just as many of our allies have learned not to depend on us. After all, the Muslims had been raiding Sicily, Spain, Portugal, the Canaries, and wherever they could get in and out. And not all the king`s horses or all the king`s men or all the Pope`s embroidery could stop them. The Vikings had raided down the Danube and Volga, the Saracens had raided Viking ports, the Spanish looted the Americas "and there were always high-sounding reasons, much diplomatic palaver and self-righteousness.
There is nothing new about terrorism "not Christian or Jewish or Muslim or any other kind of terrorism. Were the members of the SS terrorists? Of course. Were Stalin`s NKVD? Yes, of course. And while we watch intently the terrorists who draw blood and consume with fire we fail to observe the terrorists who drain blood "the vampire banks and corporations who regard even their clients and shareholders as fodder and chattel.
If I stab you, is that better than drinking your blood and smiling? If I burn you is that better than drowning you in debt and fine print? Perhaps we might broaden our definition of terrorism in the same way we might broaden our discourse about gun control to ask ourselves whether it is the gun that causes the violence or our obsession with violence as manifested by the corpses that appear weekly in eight of eleven popular television series.
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, will be published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com