Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Children's Crusades, Then and Now

I feel sorry for Greta Thunberg, the school-skipping 'climate activist' – well, sorry for her and intensely annoyed by her, also uneasy and embarrassed. She's certainly going to be having a hellish time for the next couple of weeks crossing the Atlantic on a racing yacht (basically one enormous sail with an afterthought of a hull) – but beyond that I can't help feeling that this is a vulnerable child who is being used as a mouthpiece for opinions that she's swallowed wholesale because she hasn't the maturity, breadth of knowledge or critical apparatus to question them. She's a child, and a more or less autistic one at that. She is being exploited – and, along the way, encouraging (among 'adults') an infantile level of discourse about the 'climate emergency'.
  Naturally, one's mind goes back to the Children's Crusade of 1212. This, according to traditional accounts, was inspired by a French boy who had, he believed, been visited by Jesus and instructed to lead a crusade to convert the Islamic world (by peaceful persuasion) to Christianity. Reports of portents and miracles seemed to confirm the charismatic child's mission, and soon some 30,000 children were heading South to the Mediterranean, confidently expecting the sea to part and allow them to walk dryshod to Jerusalem. This failed to happen, and the whole venture ended badly. Offered free passage on a boat, the children were either lost in a shipwreck or taken to Tunis and sold into slavery.
  Modern accounts, based on sounder historiography, tell a different tale (one of two distinct movements), but, like the traditional version, they do not end well.

8 comments:

  1. I've thought about this crusade too

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  2. A strange phenomenon. Definitely something hysterical about it...

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  3. She may be fine, but if she encounters difficulties, a great deal of fuel will be spent finding and helping her: enough, probably, to have flown her (as her share of a commercial flight) around the world several times. About twenty years ago a competitive solo sailor went missing in the North Atlantic, and the size of the search and rescue operation amazed me.

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  4. Absolutely – and I also wonder what the total 'carbon footprint' of manufacturing a mighty high-tech beast like that yacht is, as against, say, something made of wood and canvas?

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  5. She's a young girl doing something quite courageous. Cut her some slack, guys.

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