Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, available exclusively on VDARE.com
Steven Runciman's 1951 History of the Crusades is nowadays regarded with some skepticism by serious scholars; but it's the one I was raised on, and it's wonderfully cynical. And for cynics, the story of the Children's Crusade is especially satisfying. This Crusade was led by Stephen of Cloyes, "a shepherd-boy of about twelve years old," according to Runciman. This lad had seen Christ in a vision. The Savior told him to preach the Crusade, so off he went. The King of France was not very sympathetic, but by the end of June a.d. 1212 Stephen was at the city of Vendôme in north-central France with thirty thousand followers, "not one over twelve years of age."
Stephen led them all to Marseilles on the south coast, where he said the sea would part so they could walk to Palestine. This unaccountably failed to happen; but two merchants of Marseilles, Hugh the Iron and William the Pig, put seven ships at their disposal free of charge, for the glory of God, they said, and the Children's Crusade set sail for the Holy Land.
It turned out those two merchants were in cahoots with the Muslim slave traders of North Africa. The pre-teen pilgrims ended up in the slave markets of Algeria, Egypt, and Baghdad. Runciman doesn't tell us what happened to Stephen himself. Presumably he was enslaved with the rest of the kiddies.
Last weekend's March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. naturally brought the Children's Crusade to mind. The numbers were bigger: 180,000 according to The New York Times. [March for Our Lives Highlights: Students Protesting Guns Say ‘Enough Is Enough’, March 24, 2018]If you scale for populations relative to the thirteenth century, though, they were likely comparable.
And to judge by Main Stream Media accounts, children were certainly to the fore. By those accounts this was in fact an uprising by the nation's youth against an entrenched gun-loving establishment of evil old white men.
"Welcome to the revolution," screeched 17-year-old Cameron Kasky to the assembled thousands.
From the New York Times story:
Planning for the events was spearheaded by a group of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who have emerged as national anti-gun figures in the wake of the shooting that left 17 dead.
Ah, the idealism of youth! Is there anything in this Children's Crusade to gladden the stony hearts of cynics?
You bet there is. If you've been wondering how a bunch of adolescents could manage the funding and organization of this march, and similar events nationwide, allow me to direct you to Daniel Greenfield's excellent bit of investigative reporting over at Front Page. Greenfield has done the spadework the Main Stream Media will not do, and uncovered the men behind the curtain. Sample quote:
March for Our Lives is funded by Hollywood celebs, it's led by a Hollywood producer and its finances are routed through an obscure tax firm in [California's San Fernando] Valley. Its treasurer and secretary are Washington D.C. pros. And a top funder of gun control agendas is also one of its directors.
[Who’s Really Behind March for Our Lives?, March 21, 2018]
As Greenfield points out, the deliberate obscurity and obfuscation behind the organization and funding of the March makes a sorry contrast with the National Rifle Association:
The NRA is maligned 24/7 and yet it's completely obvious whom it represents … It represents its five million members. Anti-gun groups tend to represent shadowy networks.
And in fact the impression you got from MSM accounts — the impression I definitely got, that the Washington march was of youngsters, which is why I got to thinking about the Children's Crusade — is false. An academic sociologist (University of Maryland sociologist Dana R. Fisher) analyzed the crowd and concluded that no more than ten percent were under eighteen. The average age was 49! To be fair to the media, this lady's research was published in the Washington Post, but only as an op-ed. [Here’s who actually attended the March for Our Lives. (No, it wasn’t mostly young people.), by Dana R. Fisher, March 28, 2018] But you'd never have figured those facts from the news stories.
For a further dash of cynicism, note how, as always with these SJW glove puppets, the loud-heralded "revolution" turns out not to threaten anyone who actually holds actual power. Nitwits like that 17-year-old Cameron Kasky really seem to think they are sticking it to the man when, as Ramzpaul jeered on another occasion, "You are the man!"
Similarly with 17-year-old David Hogg, the foul-mouthed young twerp who seems to fancy himself the Stephen of Cloyes in this Children's Crusade of 49-year-olds. "Who here is going to vote in the 2018 election?" he asked the crowd. "If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking," end quote.
No, David. What has the people in power shaking is the thought that if, as their hearts desire, they were to stage a coup and establish a Chinese-style panopticon of thought control and repression of dissent, they might find themselves opposed by millions of armed citizens.
These self-styled "revolutionaries" believe everything that those "people in power" believe: everything billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg believe, everything every corporate HR Director believes, everything the academics and church leaders and media talking heads and Hollywood glitterati believe.
If this is revolution, Louis the Sixteenth and Tsar Nicholas the Second were foaming revolutionaries.
What I want to know is: Where are the Muslim slave traders when we really need them?
Irrelevant final thought: The rise to fame of young David Hogg brought to my mind the only other famous Hogg I know: Quintin Hogg, later Lord Hailsham, who enlivened British politics all through my teen and young-adult years.
A conservative Tory, a patriot and veteran (in spite of having been too young for the First World War and too old for the Second), and an effective and useful government minister, Hogg was known to us mainly for transmitting the message, in all he said and did, that politics was fun.
What a contrast with the angry, glowering, 17-year-old David Hogg, to whom — as to most Progressives — politics is a war of the righteous against the legions of Satan.
Quintin Hogg certainly enjoyed the pleasures of the table. My own MP, Reggie Paget, who was of the other party, famously took advantage of this to deliver a witty insult.
This was at the time of the Profumo sex scandal in 1963. Hogg's government colleague, War Minister John Profumo, had resigned after being caught lying about his private life. Quintin Hogg attacked Profumo fiercely on TV. Reggie Paget responded to Hogg's attack by observing that
When self-indulgence has reduced a man to the shape of Lord Hailsham, sexual continence involves no more than a sense of the ridiculous.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com:FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.
For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at VDARE.com for no charge.His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire's writings at VDARE.com can do so here.