A Children’s Crusade

While the left gushes over the fact that around 185,000 students left their classrooms for 17 minutes, to protest gun violence, I want to throw some facts out that might quell the calls for a Children’s Crusade.  The first fact is that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 74.6 million students in the United States, 74.4 million of which stayed in their classrooms.  The percentage of children who participated in the walkout amounts to two-tenths of a percent, which is to say that 99.8% of students did not walk out.  It may be safe to say that some of the students who did not walk out also do not favor ending the Second Amendment.  The majority of students seem to want those who walked out to buzz off.

It is also worth noting that this was not the first Children’s Crusade in history.  The first Children’s Crusade took place in 1212 AD.  It started in either Germany, or France (nobody is sure which), and involved a young boy, who believed he had recently had a conversation with Jesus, in which Jesus instructed him to take as many children as possible, to Italy.  Once in Italy, the Mediterranean Sea would part, creating a land bridge to Jerusalem, which the children would traverse, under God’s protection, into the Holy Lands.  The Muslims in the Holy Lands would be so awestruck by this march of children, that they would immediately convert to Christianity, and the Holy Lands would once again by in Christian hands.

What actually happened was that 30,000 children marched into Italy, where the sea did not part.  Instead, two merchants, Hugh the Iron, and William of Posqueres loaded the children aboard boats and sailed them to Tunisia.  Some of the boats sunk along the way, and the children who made it safely to Tunisia were immediately sold into slavery.

The Children’s Crusade is one of many stories of Europeans being either sold into slavery, within the Muslim countries, or of Muslims raiding European lands and taking slaves via raiding parties.  It is a little known fact of history that there were more European slaves in Islamic lands, at all times throughout the period of slavery in the New World, then there were African slaves in the New World.  The very word, ‘slave,’ comes from ‘slav’, which is short for ‘Slavic,’ which was the collective term for people from Eastern Europe.

Many people don’t know it, but Islam had two major slave-gathering routes.  One was by boat, south of the Sahara desert, into Sub-Saharan Africa, where non-Islamic Africans were taken into slavery.  The other was by land bridge into Eastern Europe, where Europeans were taken into slavery.  Islamic nations also pillaged the European coastline, primarily in the Mediterranean Sea, but as the Western European powers grew, raiding Western Europe to gather slaves became dangerous, and Islam focused on Eastern Europe.  The lesson here is that power, rather than submission, ended slavery.

Most people today do not know the history of Islamic slavery, and have no idea that even during the height of slavery in the New World, there were always more European slaves in Islamic nations then there were African slaves in the New World.  Whether people know it or not though, it is a fact – one that shows how the peoples of the world often have far more in common, both good and bad, then most want to admit.  All people are capable of both acts of greatness, as well as acts of barbarity, and though it is currently ‘in vogue’ to simplify, and to label individual people, as well as entire races, as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ the reality is that we are all the same, and we all share the same capabilities toward goodness and depravity.

Adults are suppose to know history.  Adults are supposed to know far more than do children, which is why adults are teachers, and children are students.  The notion that children have some special wisdom that adults have somehow lost, simply is not true, and had the children of Germany and/or France known how little they knew in 1212 AD, those 30,000 children would not have become slaves of Islam.

I asked my son, after school yesterday, if his school participated in the walk-out.  He said it did.  I asked him if he walked out.  He said he did not.  I asked him what percentage of his classmates walked out.  He said he did not know – that most of the people who walked out were upper classmen, and that none of his friends walked out.  My son is in the marching band, where he has a lot of friends.

My son is also very intelligent.  I’ve played guitar sporadically since I was sixteen, which was more than thirty years ago.  My son is already a far better guitarist than I am, and he plays tenor saxophone as well.  My son is truly gifted, in many ways that I am not, and one of the things my son understands is that, at his age, he lacks the experience, wisdom, and knowledge, to know whether or not to walk out of his school in protest.

I’m a student of history.  My father is a retired history teacher.  One of my ancestors (Francois-Xavier Garneau) was the first Canadian historian, having written the very first history of Canada.  I’ve grown up around history lessons, reading history books.  I read very little fiction; I read history books, and economic books, almost exclusively.  One of the things I know from history is that every totalitarian nation in history has started by disarming the populace, and that has been true longer than guns have even existed.  Whatever weapon gave a military its power has always been denied to the people, in every totalitarian nation, throughout history.

Free nations, on the other hand, tend to allow their people to be armed.

Our nation is unique in that it was founded by historians, who were trying to create the ideal state, following all of the lessons in history.  Some, today, point to slavery, and say that our founders failed to create the ideal state.  Those who say this are correct: by allowing slavery to continue in the South rather than abolishing outright, our founding forefathers may have also spelled the end of our founding ideals, for it is easy to simplify someone like Thomas Jefferson down into being someone good, or evil, based solely on just one aspect of his life, and if we focus on his role as a slave owner, we would paint an unflattering picture of the man.  It is far more difficult to look at history with nuance, understanding that all individuals, and all peoples, are a mix of both good and bad, including Thomas Jefferson.  Founding the University of Virginia was not evil.  Writing the Declaration of Independence was not evil.  Advocating for free public education was not evil.  Helping to found the Library of Congress was not evil.  Creating the idea of sustainable farming was not evil.  There are in fact many things that Thomas Jefferson did that were positive, and this is true in spite of the fact that he did some very bad things as well.  Thomas Jefferson was a human being, and like all human beings, he was a mixed bag.

Our other founding forefathers, likewise, did both good and bad things, and the United States Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, rank as some of the most profoundly good documents in world history, in spite of the fact that our founding forefathers were imperfect people.  Nothing good will be gained from throwing the ideals these documents convey away.  At best, today’s Children’s Crusade will end with the same result the first Children’s Crusade did: a people placed into bondage.

Those who wish to control others, whether they wish to do so directly (as slave owners), or indirectly (through government), all want the same thing.  A person owned by other people, whether that ownership is individual or collective, is not free, and one of the saddest lessons of history is that people everywhere only yearn to be free until they are free.  Free people seem to yearn for chains.

What do you yearn for?


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