Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wingnut Vacation Spots (in which the Balabusta is annoyed)

I need to stop reading Little Green Footballs. They have some interesting links there, but the comments threads tend to degenerate into absurdity, racism, and really weird stuff at the drop of a dime. And they get me aggravated, and since I don't post there, I post here, or irritate my friends over the phone.

Have you ever heard of Eger, Hungary? I sure as heck hadn't, and I sort of suspect that most people who aren't Hungarian probably haven't either. It was the scene of an siege by the Turks in the 1500s, which was heroically repelled by 2000 men, women and children, leading to a famous nineteenth-century novel called "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon". (The Turks came back forty years later, because Turks are like that, and took the town.) It has some pretty churches, a nice little castle, and a ridiculously tall, but cool-looking minaret. Its Baroque town center is apparently a popular tourist attraction.

I only heard of Eger because while I was reading the comment threads on Little Green Footballs, someone said something about 'the women of Eger', and I could tell you even before I Googled it that it was going to be some place in Central/Eastern Europe where they drove the Turks back.

It used to be that the only person I knew who used the expression 'turning back the Turks at the gates of Vienna' was my rabbi, who is eighty-something and German, and therefore entitled. But it's getting to be sort of a wingnutter's obsession online. Turks. Oh, yes, and "Roncesvalles".

Has anyone considered leading theme tours? Or, for sanity's sake, has anyone considered telling these people what European Christians did to one another in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries over land and fine points of theology? (Not when they're eating, though.)

Please don't start telling me about the ugly history of Islam, or discussing modern religio-politics--or do, but that's not the point. The point is that the nutter who brought up Eger knew that everyone would get the code--Turks in Europe, ie, Muslims against the West--and the code is silly. The Turks were expanding all over hell and gone at the time, and would have been whether they were Muslims or not. At the same time, sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe was a HORRIBLE place, with or without Turks. Judicial torture, witch trials, grotesque persecution of ethnic minorities, theocracy, war, war, war, let's talk about MADGEBURG, folks...this is a period in which Christians do some of the ugliest things to each other that you can imagine, but the nutters are happily burbling on about turning back the Turks. Let's fight our own battles in the present, people, and NOT GO THERE. Especially those of us (like many on LGF), who appear to reject the idea that Christianity can be held responsible for its murkier moments, in the same way that they insist Islam must be held accountable for its own.

No one wants to be a sixteenth century Hungarian. Even sixteenth century Hungarians didn't want to be sixteenth century Hungarians. NO ONE wants to be a sixteenth century Hungarian, except for some SCA friends of mine who freely admit they prefer to do it as a weekend recreational thing.



Lewyn said...

Actually, Turkey was a pretty good place back then- Jews viewed it as the "Golden Land" where they could be safe from the Inquisition. The Muslims didn't start to get really nasty until the Europeans carved up the Ottoman Empire.

aliyah06 said...

Omigosh, I love this--I knew I liked you (altho I don't think you'd like my politics--forgive me) and here's the proof--a writer who actually KNOWS history and can bring historical perspective and hence marshall arguments against the Wing-Nuts of either extreme (I have my own issues with the ilk of the Left who think Israeli history started in 1967 as an exercise in British colonialism...)

Keep it up! Wheeee!