Thursday, March 3, 2022

In case you need a refresher

 Here is a nice little visual history of the changing borders of Europe over the years:

I always loved maps, and this is the sort of think that strikes my fancy.  Granted you could possibly quibble over this or that, but the broader point remains.  Things have changed a bit over the years.

The main reason it's being passed around is to rub Russia's nose in its state of affairs ages ago when Poland and other regions were quite established.  Fair enough.  

But notice something else.  Note the Mongols, then the Ottomans.  Swing west to the Iberian Peninsula in the early years.  We forget - purposely or otherwise - that the first centuries of European history saw Europe with its back against the wall, fending off one invasion after another. 

Even when the early colonies in America were being established in the 17th Century, the Ottomans remained in south central Europe, chomping at the bit for a chance to break through and subdue that land mass Muslims have been eyeing for centuries.  

By the 18th Century the scales tipped and Europe emerged as the clear dominant force in the world.  Europe would soon gobble up much of the globe over the next century or two.  The question is, did those other regions suddenly see the light and decide how wrong it was that their ancestors spent so much time trying to break across the European borders?  Or was the last couple centuries merely a temporary setback?  I'm sure generations of Europeans and Americans not yet born hope we get the right answer to those questions. 


  1. The descendants of the Ottoman Empire are the Turks. They are NATO members. It's also worth mentioning that from the mid 1500s to the late 1600s The Ottoman and French empires were close allies. The Ottomans were also fighting a fearsome war against the Persians for control of the Middle East. The Ottomans talked a though game, but ended up having to compromise. The French vs. Habsburg conflict was just as important as Christian vs. Muslim or Catholic vs. Protestant. The French were even able to convince the Ottomans not to raid Rome, dispite both Nations being at war with the Pope. Popular Culture likes to debate about the Christian vs. Muslim conflict (like the debate about the Crusades where, depending who you ask, the Crusaders were either heroes that single-handedly saved civilization or brutal genocidal maniacs, with neither side noticing that, without the Crusades, Christian and Muslim leaders would simply have gone on warring with their own kind) while almost completely ignoring the fact of that Islam hasn't truly been united since the fall of the Abassid Caliphate and Christian nations haven't been a unified force since the fall of Rome. Christians and Muslims have spent just as much time killing their own kind as they have killing those outside their own religion.

    1. While we sojourned with the Orthodox those years, I learned something from the Arabic Christians who attended the Liturgy. When asked, they consider the Ottomans, less the European colonial powers, to be the foundational mischief makers for the troubles in the Middle East today. And while things are always complicated and beyond simple A vs. B templates, I also learned that those Orthodox from SE Europe see the Ottomans with all the affection that some Native Americans see European expansion in the New World. That's because they were under the Ottoman yoke, as opposed to some like the French who, at the time, saw tactical advantages in aligning with the Ottomans, as often happens through history. It often depends on who you're talking to at what point in history. And while Muslim culture is more complicated than simply 'All Muslims are thus', the same goes for all of Europe and, for that matter, all of America. Such is the complexities of the story of history.

    2. All true. Native Americans complain about Whites while ignoring the Brutality of Iroquois conquest. Chinese folks like to complain about the Opium wars while ignoring the many extremely bloody Civil Wars China has done to itself. Irish Folks like to complain about Brits while forgetting the long history of brutal tribal war Ireland faced before the Anglos showed up. Arabs complain about American warcrimes while forgetting about Saddam Hussein's brutality. Muslim historians who complain about the Crusades while ignoring the Seljuk invasions. Don't even get me started on Indian Nationalists who think Winston Churchill was on par with Hitler. The list goes on.

    3. There was a fellow named Mike Flynn who blogged much more years ago than he does now. His late wife was at least part Native American, and spent much time debunking the modern 'all Indigenous people could die for the sins of humanity' narrative. It was often informative and an eye opener to be sure. I remember that because I remember some Indians protested the movie Dances With Wolves when it came out because of the angelic portrayal of the Sioux, when their ancestors had been treated worse by the Sioux than the Americans.

      I fear, however, the need to make America/The West look as bad as possible has 1) forced us to either ignore or excuse the bad of other cultures (or increasingly see the bad as a boon) and 2) It has also allowed those cultures to avoid accountability. It reminds me of that LGBTQ parade in solidarity with Islam protesting America's government back during the Trump years. Did they not know? Or did they not care?


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