Next month my friend and fellow medieval historian Dr. John D. Hosler will be doing the unthinkable for many academics in that he is giving up his tenured position as a full professor at Morgan State University, where he has taught for the last twelve years, in exchange for a position with the U.S. Army. To be clear, he is not joining the Army, in the traditional sense, but is instead taking what will undoubtedly be a fascinating position as an Associate Professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. As someone who cares deeply about those who serve in our military, wishing to see them receive the very best possible support, I could not be happier to know John will be acting in this role. Continue reading
In defense of President Obama, who had recently been criticized for his comparison of the medieval crusaders to modern Islamic terrorists (see my response here), the New York Times published an essay on Friday (“The First Victims of the First Crusade”) by Susan Jacoby. Her essay highlighted the brutal attack on Jews during the First Crusade and, once again, equated the crusaders with modern Islamic terrorists. She wrote, “Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story.” She then described the horrors of the slaughter and compared it with the killing of religious minorities recently carried out by ISIS in the Middle East.
Jacoby then ended her piece with an odd celebration of the virtues of the post-Enlightenment West. In it, she contrasted the medieval Christian past with the modern post-Enlightenment western world, arguing that groups like ISIS “offer a ghastly and ghostly reminder of what the Western world might look like had there never been religious reformations, the Enlightenment and, above all, the separation of church and state.”
Jacoby’s comments, particularly those contrasting the medieval and modern west, caused a stir among medieval historians, much of it negative.