Who Are the Good Guys?

I also want to add that the passionate unanimity on how the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 was a terrible tragedy has been substituted with a passionate unanimity that it was a wonderful miracle. At yesterday’s debate, both speakers differed as to the degree of the miraculous wonderfulness, with each claiming it was more wonderful than the opponent was saying.

I find both attitudes to be painfully boring. How about we stop looking for good guys and bad guys in history and accept that, like that Facebook status says, “it’s complicated.” I understand being emotionally invested into recent history. But this was 1,300 years ago. There’s really no need to cheer on the participants.

3 thoughts on “Who Are the Good Guys?

  1. The Muslim invasion (there were also non-Arab tribesmen among the troops) was a tragedy on so many levels that the architectural, linguistic and otherwise cultural heritage it left to the people of the Iberian peninsula cannot in any way redeem. References: Serafín Fanjul, La quimera de Al-Andalus and Darío Fernández-Morera, El mito del paraíso andalusí, available in English as The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise.


    1. I assign an excerpt from Fanjul every once in a while, and the students react like they can’t believe what’s happening. The only students who can discuss the reading normally and without needing to disavow the ideas in the text every 2 minutes are Mexican students.


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