This is not the Crusades — ISIS is as modern as self-driving cars

David M Perry writes: In the early going of the second presidential debate, Anderson Cooper said to Donald Trump, “You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” Trump responded by saying his taped conversation with Billy Bush was just “locker room talk,” then pivoted to ISIS. He said, “You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have — and, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, where you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times.”

As a medieval historian, I’ve been watching the ways in which Trump, other politicians, and even plenty of journalists characterize ISIS and its horrific actions as “medieval.” I’ve always thought it was a mistake, but a mistake mostly limited to the world of rhetoric. On Friday, that changed. Three men were arrested for plotting to blow up an apartment complex that houses both a Mosque and many Muslim-Americans. They called themselves – The Crusaders.

The idea that contemporary military and terrorist activities in the Middle East embody a new Crusade isn’t exactly new. What’s startling is that today both supporters of ISIS and radical Christian terrorists have adopted the same language. Both sides are using medieval history to justify their violent intentions.

We have to push back on the notion that this ultra-contemporary conflict is the inevitable result of an unusual episode in the history of Islamic-Christian relations. [Continue reading…]

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