If you are a devout Christian, or maybe a not-so-devout Christian, or maybe not even a Christian, you probably have a Holy Land tour near the top of your bucket list. And if you decide to visit the land where Jesus lived, walked and preached, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll spend some time at the ancient fortress known as Megiddo, which is not only a beautiful spot in northern Israel, but is where the Book of Revelations located Armageddon, a world-ending prophecy that is central to much Christian belief.
I lived and worked in Israel on and off between 1987 and 1993, and visited the region in and around Megiddo many times. There are archeological ruins which date back to at least 3,500 BC which stand on a hilltop overlooking what was a main Greek and later Roman commercial route running the interior to a seaport on the Mediterranean Sea. So it’s not just a question of faith that makes Megiddo such a wonderful spot; it also happens to be an important historical site in the entire span of Western civilization whose origins began in what we now call the Middle East.
If you stand on the ramparts of Megiddo and look east, off in the distance you can see the ruins of one of the more than 20 fortresses constructed by the Crusaders who attempted to wrest the Holy Land back from the descendants of Muhammed in the years between 1096, the First Crusade, and 1187 when Saladin retook Jerusalem and basically brought the East-West struggle for control of the Holy Land to an end. Various military engagements between Christian and Muslim forces continued through the sixteenth century, but these battles took place far away from the Holy Land and the Near East, most of which remained in Muslim hands from then until now.
Despite the fact that the Crusades never succeeded in their goal of keeping the Holy Land in Christian hands, the rhetoric of ‘crusading’ against Muslim threats continues to crop up in the current day. If anything, we hear more and more of this rhetoric now that an entire national political campaign seems to be based on how we are going to respond to something called ‘radical Islam’ which, according to Fox News and its reality show known as ‘Make America Great Again,’ constitutes the greatest threat to American interests since gay marriage was declared law of the land.
The latest entry into Crusader marketing is a gun company down in Florida, Spike’s Tactical, which makes an AR-15 with a Biblical verse etched into the lower receiver which says: “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” The Psalm was written by David who, by the way, apparently built part of the Megiddo fort, and according to the gun maker, the placement of the verse on the gun means that Muslims can’t touch it or pick it up. And because Muslims can’t touch this gun, they won’t be able to use it in a terror attack. So not only do we now have an AR-15 that we can use to defend ourselves against radical Islam, it’s also an AR whose very existence protects us from attacks by the other side.
Gun companies have been etching names of famous gun owners on the butts and stocks of guns since Sam Colt first put his ‘rampant Colt’ logo on the side of his revolver in 1832. In fact, I own a ‘Thunder Ranch’ shotgun which is simply a standard, pump-action gun with the words Thunder Ranch embossed on the stock. But I don’t think that anyone owns the rights to biblical verse, so the folks at Spike’s Tactical at least don’t have to pay a royalty on the sales of their gun.
Have you ever heard of anything quite this stupid since Donald Trump first said that he learned about world politics by ‘watching the shows?’ If you have, please let me know.