This week will no doubt see a greater outpouring of synthetic emotion than usually greets the anniversary of the WTC attack. Hot on the heels of that will come another hurricane of Islamophobia.
It is wrong to brand all Muslims as terrorists or to accuse Muslims of wanting to see every American dead. There are as many flavours of Islam as there are of Christianity, some are as repugnant as the most extreme forms of Christian fundamentalism, some are as dedicated to promoting peace and understanding as are the Quakers.
Mistrust of Islam existed before 9/11 of course but since then it has grown out of all proportion to any potential threat. Instead of blaming Islam for all the ills of the world though, we who enjoy the benefits of western civilisation should thank Islam for ....erm, well, ... the benefits of western civilisation. While it is true to say that without Islam the WTC would not have been wrecked we must primarily understand that without Islam the WTC could never have been built.
I have said many provocative things about the unreliable foundations of Christianity but my only regret is that I have not gone far enough. The true history of the middle east before the conquest by Alexander is convoluted and complicated but the role of "the Jews" and later Christianity as a civilising influence is totally mythical. Christianity can truly be said to be the worship of ignorance and stupidity. People need to be aware that the adoption of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine the Great heralded the dark ages.
Though Constantine was a cunning and effective political operator who sought advice from the traditional sources, his successors, in order to keep the Christians onside and so stay in power, had to accept Christian leaders and Bishops as advisors and appoint their nominees to governorships and stewardships in the important provinces. These people were intent only on promoting the interests of their religion as a means to increasing their own wealth and power.
Seventy years after Constantine's adoption and subsequent reinvention of Christianity the political structure of the Empire had weakened so that it was effectively a Theocracy. It was the early Christian church (practising a form of Christianity that would not be recognisable today) that ordered the greatest act of cultural vandalism ever perpetrated when Bishop Theophilius ordered the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria and the destruction of all Wisdom that did not come from God," (in other words anything the Bishops had reason to fear.
For almost a thousand years ignorance ruled what was referred to as Christendom. All art music and literature could only be in praise of God, practice of the mathematics, sciences and healing arts developed by the Greeks, Phoenicians and Egyptians was forbidden to secular Christians and only the study of Christian subjects was encouraged.
Ironically some of the knowledge the secular church led by the Vatican was trying to destroy was kept alive in the monasteries. Monastic orders also preserved historic documents that give us some insight into the true mythical origins of Jesus rather than the lurid fantasies of the modern churches. The Monasteries also maintained contact with Zoroastrian and Islamic and other non - Christian scholars in Egypt, Assyria and the east. The knowledge of architecture, mathematics, sciences, astronomy and medicine were thus kept alive.
Much was lost, that phenomenon of the astral bodies, the precession of the equinoxes, known to the Druids in northern and western Europe as well as to the Pyramid builders of Egypt and Mesopotamia was only rediscovered in the nineteen - fifties. This may not seem important but it is essential to understanding the changing of seasons and the coming and going of ice ages. The secret of how the Pyramids were built is still lost however, theories about the building of ramps and moving huge stones on rollers are just unfeasible and even the most powerful cranes we have today could not handle the reach involved when loaded with such massive weights.
Christians did not care about such things though, their obsession with God convinced them that they should just carry on building churches by piling stones on top of each other until the weight of the higher structures caused the lower levels to collapse outwards. Christian churches then were lumpish and ugly structures fare removed from the graceful and elegant temples of the Greeks/ Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians and Persians.
All that began to change when the Moors invaded and conquered Spain in 711AD. There were many places of pilgrimage in Spain, and good reasons for pilgrims to go there, after all it was where Jesus and his wife Mary Magdalene had fled to escape the persecution of the Pharisee (Medieval Christians really did believe that, and there is a stack of evidence to support their beliefs) There was also the cult of James, alleged brother of Jesus. So the Christians were pissed off by Moorish rule but even more pissed off when the Moors started to build magnificent temples to Allah and palaces such as the Alhambra.
"Look at how they honour their God and their Kings," travellers said, "can it be their God is greater than ours if he grants them the knowledge to achieve such feats of craftsmanship?"
Initially the Catholic Church had such heretics executed but after a while the hierarchy caught on to the idea that something was going on. "Anything their God can do, our God can do better," the Pope and his Bishops sang in unison as they set about building the kind of magnificent structures the Moors and Arabs were putting up. Without success, unless you count collapsed buildings and loss of labourers lives a success.
The Monastic orders were a bit more cunning though. "Could it be these guys know something we don't?" they asked, "and if so how much will it cost to have them tech us?"
There is a bone of contention about which is the oldest of the Great European Gothic Cathedrals, Durham in Britain or Chartres in France. Durham was actually started first but due to a little local difficulty in England in 1066AD Chartres was completed first (both still stand today but have been extensively rebuilt.) It is possible in either to see the evidence that Muslim architects and builders were involved. Serious scholars can arrange to be taken high into the roof structures where they can observe Islamic symbols carved in the stones along with signatures of the men who carved them, as if the Muslims were saying "well OK, its to the glory of the Christian God but look who built it.
It was contact with the Moors in Spain and the Arabs during the crusades that led to the renaissance. Development in the western world had stood still or in some fields gone backwards since Christianity had become dominant but now important travellers, not just monks, merchants and adventurers but noblemen and Kings were saying "Duh, we got it wrong."
Gradually learning and creativity became acceptable again. The church resisted of course, viz. the persecution of Copernicus, Galileo and others. But we were able to learn some of what the Greeks and Egyptians had known and to build on it. So any time you come across Islamophobia just think that yes, it was deranged, fanatical Muslims that flew those 'planes into the World Trade Centre, but without Islam not only would there have been no world trade centre and no 'planes to fly into it (try building a plane without reference to Pythagorean mathematics) but no U.S.A. to get all stupidly patriotic about because the church would not have sanctioned expeditions to prove the world was round had it not been forced to.
I can't get away from the impression that Christian Fundamentalism will try its damndest to drag us back into the dark ages if we allow it to do so. For that reason I will close with these words from the prologue to Christopher Marlowe's play "The Jew of Malta,"
"I count religion but a childish toy,
and hold there is no sin but ignorance."