The Thinking 

Remember Constantinople

January 31, 2013


Constantinople Sunset, Ivan Constantinovich Aivazovsky; 1899

DANIEL S. writes:

James Kirkpatrick at Alternative Right has an important reflection on a recent, artificial grievance instigated by a Turkish Muslim group concerning a Star Wars lego set that they claimed was racist because it supposedly imitated the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul. As Kirkpatrick reminds us, the “mosque” in question used to be one of the greatest churches of Eastern Orthodoxy, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, the heart of the then Constantinople, before the Muslim Turks conquered the city, desecrated the church, and forcibly converted it into a mosque. Kirkpatrick, after observing how leftist bloggers joined in the contrived event by decrying Lego’s supposed history of racism, concludes:

The metapolitics of the contemporary West center more on ethnic masochism even than egalitarianism. It’s not just that people are unaware of the Ottoman conquest of Byzantium – it’s that conceiving of any episode in history where traditional Christians or Europeans are the victims is beyond possibility. Thus, we have a situation where a children’s toy company is forced on the defensive because Muslims are upset a product vaguely resembles a Christian church that they conquered, desecrated, and transformed into a triumphalist monument festooned with the crescent of Islam.

Of course the entire debate is absurd. Of course it’s just a toy and doesn’t even really look like the church.

However, the correct response is not just to our eyes at “anti-defamation” groups begging for a handout. It’s to remember that the story of Byzantium is our story too, even as Americans. The struggle is not just about fighting a rearguard action for the freedom to indulge in childish amusements and “free speech.” It’s about working for the day when the Marble King awakens once again.

May we Christians of the West never forget blessed Constantinople, a city that is as much a part of the West as Rome, Paris, or London.

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