Investigate motives of modern ‘crusaders’

When we hear that a “crusade” is in the works, we are obligated to question the motives behind it …

The original Crusades (1095-1291) were launched on the pretext of “liberating” the Holy Land from the “infidel” Turks. Modern historians have observed that there was a more subtle subtext behind these wars. Europe at the time was full of disinherited knights and warlike nobles who had been trashing the countryside via civil wars and predatory raids. Church leaders like Pope Urban II and St. Bernard wanted to relieve the pressure upon European society by providing an outlet for these hostile individuals to “blow-off-steam” – and to feel like they were doing “God’s will” in the process. Criminals were awarded a “remission-of-sins” if they went to Palestine and performed bloody deeds of valor against the “evil” Saracens. A lunatic named “Peter the Hermit” coaxed thousands of peasants to join a “poor people’s crusade” that served as an advance guard for the main army of crusaders led by nobles like Godfrey of Boullion. Most of these people were slaughtered long before they reached Jerusalem. Of course, those who preached the Crusade remained in Europe and lived in the lap of luxury.

So now we must ask about the ulterior motives of today’s “crusaders” – the ones fervently working to undermine “Obamacare,” SNAP, HUD, Head-Start, voting-rights, women’s reproductive rights, organized labor, public education, and just about every progressive reform since 1933. The main motive of these folks hasn’t changed much since 1095. What they want is more power for themselves and less power for those citizens they deem to be “lesser beings.”

Having been thwarted thus far in their efforts to turn back the clock on reform, Machiavellian-minded groups like A.L.E.C. (the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council) and The Heritage Foundation (now headed by uber-rightwing Senatorial dropout Jim DeMint) are encouraging their stooges in Congress and in state governments across the nation to “go-for-broke” by enacting as many draconian measures as they can to rig state elections via “Gerrymandering,” to make access to polling places as difficult as they can for their opponents on a county-by-county basis. The templates for such actions (cooked up at A.L.E.C. confabs in places like Vail, Colorado and Palm Beach, Florida) are being enacted right now and in states like North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ohio. “Yes sir, we’ve got trouble right here in Washington County – with a capital ‘T,’ that rhymes with ‘P,’ and that stands for ‘Polls.'” Groups like “Heritage” have sent volunteers to these areas to set up “stacked-deck” town-meetings, to intimidate opponents, and to pester citizens at the polls. These folks are called “Sentinels” – which I presume is the right-wing Republican equivalent to the medieval “Knights Templar.”

Like the Crusaders of yore, these zealots are not only concerned with obtaining power – they also want loot. Their representatives talk a lot about “freedom,” but money is the name-of-their-game. Insurance consortiums and pay-to-provide “caregivers” don’t like The Affordable Care Act provisions that forbid them from refusing coverage if one gets sick, refusing coverage for persons with “pre-existing conditions,” or placing “caps” on coverage for children and seniors, so they shovel money into the campaigns of right-wing government-haters. The same goes for their attacks upon public-education and teachers’ unions. They want to siphon taxpayer funds from public-schools and give it to high-rolling charter-schools. They don’t want teachers to be represented by unions, because they miss the “good old days” when teachers worked for practically nothing and lived in boarding houses. These “crusaders” love the “sequester” and want to “shut-down” government because they hate public-assistance programs like HUD or SNAP that help low-wage workers, whom they think (after reading “Atlas Shrugged” for the 100th time) should be “glad” to work for practically nothing at menial jobs and give all their wages to the landlord or the “company-store.” They also despise working women, and believe that they should be forever “subservient” to males in the home and the workplace. The list goes on!

And how did those earlier “Crusades” turn out? They ended when the Templars went down in bloody defeat at Acre. They ended when the Black Plague (brought from the east by returning Crusaders) ravaged Europe. They ended when peasants revolted in the 1300s. They should have ended when the bright minds of the Renaissance began the process of bringing civilization out of the darkness and into the light. Some in my generation thought the old “crusades-of-hate” ended in August, 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and launched a real crusade for fairness and human-dignity. But now today’s “crusaders” on the right want to scrap all that and return to the days of feudal masters and sectarian intolerance. It’s sad that these deluded and brainwashed folks don’t have access to a real history book?

Fred O’Neill lives in Marietta.