The Columbus Day Threat
October 12, 2001 7:04 AM   Subscribe

The Columbus Day Threat "Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Andalusia be repeated in Palestine," Osama bin Laden said in his taped cave-side address. "We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish." Reuven Koret's Israel Insider column may explain the FBI's alert to terrorist activity: "Columbus Day, October 12, commemorates the founding of America in 1492, and 1492 represents the year in which Islam was driven out by Christianity. In bin Laden's mind, these two events are inextricably linked."
posted by Carol Anne (10 comments total)
Andalusia was wonderful last time I checked. Only went to Seville, mind you. Like a hundred times. Tapas, wine, sex...hey, they seem to be recovering just fine.

Same goes for the Algarve. It's not politically correct - oh I know - but we don't miss the Moors(can I say this on Metafilter?)all that much.
Of course the Spaniards only got rid of them - ahem, I mean, asked them very politely to leave - in 1498. Us Portuguese did it in 1210.

So it's been, what?, almost 800 years now and, whatever Mr.Osama says, you know, it's been - how can I put it? - great?

Will wonderful do?

(Great post, btw)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:12 AM on October 12, 2001

I for one certainly miss the Moors in Spain:

Their culture was open, religiously permissive, a hot bed of theological, philosophical, and scientific progress.

The Moors were living in luxury in the 1000s, with cotton clothes, oranges, spices, spoons, libraries, a telegraph-type system (that used mirrors in towers if I recall), and aqueducts, while the poor christians lived in dark, wet, caves er, I mean, castles with no windows and wore scratchy wool coats.

A man on the street in Seville, Cordoba, or Granada lived better than the king of france in the year 1000. And the year 1200. And the year 1300.

Woo hoo for the reconquest.

It's something that our schools (K-12 for sure) don't teach, but Adulucian Spain was an advanced culture in the same way that Athens and Rome were.

The only reason why the Christians finally overcame the Moors was by copying their military technologies (catapults, and cannon) and strategies... A crucial reason Spain became a navel power was because they were able to inheret the naval technologies of the Moors as well, the Astrolabe and the Sextant.

On the topic of the thread, the conquest of the Americas *was* inextricably linked to the expulsion of the Muslims and Jews from Spain.
posted by zpousman at 7:31 AM on October 12, 2001

> A crucial reason Spain became a navel power...

A lucky combination of warm weather and short shirts?
posted by pracowity at 7:47 AM on October 12, 2001

Well book that flight to old Morocco, zpousman. Avoid Rick's American Café, though : you might find *shudder* alcoholic drinks there; or even an uncovered Ingrid Bergman.

Seriously, though - you are quite right, historically speaking: the Moorish presence in the Iberian Peninsula was mainly benign and allowed for a religious coexistence which was remarkable for the time.

For the time. We're talking 11th Century here. So: * yawn*

But don't kid yourself. The Discoveries were a very difficult enterprise and, apart from the odd Arab pilot, they had almost everything to do with the Portuguese, the Spaniards,the Dutch and the English.

Most of whose masterminds, in the case of Portugal and Spain(say 75%)were Portuguese and Spanish Jews.

(For your information it was the expulsion of the Jews, in 1492, which brought about our decline and, of course, contributed to the rise of the Dutch Empire, as most of them emigrated to Amsterdam.)

So have a little respect, if you please.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:57 AM on October 12, 2001

Yes, but what does all of this have to do with the US? And what of God? Dammit, this thread has been going on for entire minutes already, and nobody has started arguing about God or US foreign policy!

I demand that this oversight be rectified immediately.
posted by aramaic at 8:01 AM on October 12, 2001

MiguelCardoso: "I know - but we don't miss the Moors(can I say this on Metafilter?)all that much."

Golden Age of Judaism in Spain (850-1150 A.D. roughly is also when the Moors ruled in Spain.
How the Sephardic Jews came to be in Spain in the first place is more complicated and obscure. The Moorish records tell that many Jews accompanied the Moorish invasion of Spain in 711 A.D. as army officers, armorors and provisioners. But Spanish legends say that Tariq Ibn Zahid, the Governor of Morocco, and conqueror of Visigothic Spain was invited to invade Spain by the Jews of Spain. There is strong evidence suggesting that Jews resided in Spain long before 711 A.D.
And also:
It is perhaps revealing that what became known as the Golden Age of Judaism-an era when Jewish culture flourished and reached its peak-occurred not in Israel or Europe but in 8th- to 11th-century Muslim Spain. During that period and the following centuries, large numbers of Jews fleeing European persecution took refuge in Arab countries, where they found the tolerance and hospitality that was denied to them in most of the "civilized" world.
posted by tamim at 8:04 AM on October 12, 2001

I don't think OBL sees the same tragedy in Andalucia that we do. From what I can learn, the consensus is that factionally divided Islamic principalities were overthrown one by one, by the Catholic powers.

But OBL doesn't mourn for those tolerant, advanced, materially prosperous societies that were lost. He doesn't care about the teletype mirror system, or the astrolabe & sextant, or the cotton clothes that they wore. He doesn't mourn over their early adoption of, um, spoons.

No, the "tragedy of Andalucia" for OBL is that there are fewer Andalusians practicing Islam. Nothing more. And while I understand the suggestion that Islamic Andalucia was more tolerant of "infidels" than Catholic Spain (who could be LESS tolerant?), I bet OBL would tell you, a la Falwell, that this tolerance was part of their undoing.

They were wealthy, permissive, ... decadent. And to judge by his affiliation with the Taliban, OBL surely must believe that it's better to be righteous in a Stone Age civilization, than to be prosperous, and decadent.

It's in the nature of ideologies and theocracies to expand, to conquer. Zealots can't be happy until EVERYONE is converted. In that respect Islamic empires have been no more or less expansionist than their Christian counterparts.

Someone should tell OBL that Christendom will never allow the "tragedy of Constantinople" to be repeated. The capital of the Byzantine empire was sacked by Ottomans in 1453. In fact, the Ottoman Empire layed siege to Vienna -- "the fairest and most flourishing City in the World" -- as late as 1683.
posted by coelecanth at 8:22 AM on October 12, 2001

During that period and the following centuries, large numbers of Jews fleeing European persecution took refuge in Arab countries, where they found the tolerance and hospitality that was denied to them in most of the "civilized" world.
During the 10th century the Arab countries were the civilized world...
posted by talos at 8:33 AM on October 12, 2001

Tamim, you're right and I think I made myself wrong by adopting the wrong attitude. Thank you for the injection of accuracy and rationality. I apologize to zpousman for being facetious and, well, a bit too doctrinaire.
What I meant was that eight centuries is a long time and talking about the Moors in Portugal and Spain is four times more relative and distant than talking about the British in the U.S.
How would Americans feel if someone said you should miss the Brits? Plus you've only been rid of them two centuries.

So it touched a nerve and I guess that shows something that doesn't help my argument. The Romans and the Moors dominated Portugal for 1200 years and *grudgingly* we have nothing but thanks to both of them, grrrrr....

But we are the oldest independent country in Europe though... with unchanged borders! (Please forgive me for being so proud of being Portuguese, I guess is what I mean)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:47 AM on October 12, 2001

I suppose if we follow this reparation of historical wrongs to its logical end . . .

All US people (except the Native Americans) move back to where they came from. ("Hello, England, yeah, we need a reservation for about 27 million . . .")

Oh, but the Native Americans came from asia or polynesia, so they've gotta go, too.

Oh, wait, we've all got to move back to the fertile crescent.

Let's face it folks, there's no rewind button for history.
posted by yesster at 9:15 AM on October 12, 2001

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