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Students analyze the language in texts produced during the Crusades period to illustrate the use of in-group and out-group language used to stimulate dehumanization or empathy.
- Demonstrate comprehension of the argument from psychology on the causes of intergroup conflict.
- Identify uses of rhetoric to cultivate empathy toward and include people of other groups.
- Identify uses of rhetoric to dehumanize or exclude people of other groups.
- Analyze the possible effects of dehumanizing or inclusive/empathetic language on its hearers.
- Consider ways that consumers of media and other persuasive speech can resist dehumanizing tendencies.
- Consider strategies that produce empathy toward people of other groups.
- What does it mean to “dehumanize” a group?
- What does Bruneau say about the natural human tendency toward empathy? How does empathy prevent violence between people?
- How can people be motivated to fight according to Bruneau, despite their natural tendency to empathize?
- How does Pope Urban II’s speech use religious imagery, language, and authority to call out the Crusade?
- What emotions do you think the people listening to Pope Urban II in the video are experiencing, based on their body language and expressions? (peasant man, child, noblewomen, clergymen)
- How is fear put into play to encourage Urban II’s listeners to take action?
- Give examples of imagery used in media today to dehumanize other groups and people. What role does fear play in these appeals to the psychology of intergroup conflict?
- What can a listener today do to interrupt the process of dehumanization?
- Assign students in small groups to read the handout texts that speak about war in religious terms, both from Christians and Muslims, during the Crusades.
- Students will analyze the language used by the popes calling out the first and fifth Crusades and documents calling for jihad against the crusaders to identify how groups of people are singled out as “us” and “them,” and motivate people to make war.
- After reading the texts, have students highlight the passages that refer to the following concepts: claiming authority, using religious imagery to create feelings of belonging to “us” and to dehumanize or separate from “them,” language that incites fear, language that creates incentives to fight, language that justifies self-sacrifice to overcome their fear.
Possible alternative methods:
Students read all of the documents.
- Have students individually use different colored highlighters to locate passages related to each category.
- Have each group of students identify a different category of language (also using a specific color of highlighter).
- Use Google Docs or other online platform to highlight the categories.
- Students create a chart or spreadsheet in which to place citations from the texts that correspond to the categories and concepts. Cut and paste the highlighted text into the spreadsheet under each category and text using color code. (See handout.)
- Share out results: Students share what they highlighted and why that represents the categories. Discuss whether students highlighted some language for more than one category. Discuss why such language fit into both categories.
- Analyze how the different categories of language identified in the exercise interrelate to achieve the goal of the speeches/texts in rousing listeners to action. How does each category of language support and reinforce what the speaker is trying to achieve in motivating the listeners?
- Conclusion: Hold a debriefing session using some or all of the following questions:
- What is the role of words delivered in public to a group that is to be convinced to undertake an action?
- How does this environment make the language more potent?
- How does this language appeal to psychological characteristics of people and group dynamics to convince people to overcome fear, tap into altruistic motives and take personal actions that may result in loss or death?
- Having heard Bruneau’s argument, do you think that you can use this information as a tool for better understanding perceptions of others acquired from various media, and being better able to evaluate such claims of authority and attempts to dehumanize others?
”Most beloved brethren: Urged by necessity, I, Urban, by the permission of God chief bishop and prelate over the whole world, have come into these parts as an ambassador with a divine admonition to you, the servants of God. I hoped to find you as faithful and as zealous in the service of God as I had supposed you to be. But if there is in you any deformity or crookedness contrary to God’s law, with divine help I will do my best to remove it. For God has put you as stewards over his family to minister to it. Happy indeed will you be if he finds you faithful in your stewardship. You are called shepherds; see that you do not act as hirelings. But be true shepherds, with your crooks always in your hands. Do not go to sleep, but guard on all sides the flock committed to you. For if through your carelessness or negligence a wolf carries away one of your sheep, you will surely lose the reward laid up for you with God. And after you have been bitterly scourged with remorse for your faults, you will be fiercely overwhelmed in hell, the abode of death. . . .
Although, O sons of God, you have promised more firmly than ever to keep the peace among yourselves and to preserve the rights of the church, there remains still an important work for you to do. Freshly quickened by the divine correction, you must apply the strength of your righteousness to another matter which concerns you as well as God. For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek Empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it is meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it. All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who, for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let them eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide.”
Source: Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal, A Source Book for Medieval History [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905; Project Gutenberg, 2013], pp. 514–18, citing Bongars, Gesta Dei per Francos, I, pp. 382 f, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42707/42707-h/42707-h.htm#mh279.
“Because at this time there is a more compelling urgency than there has ever been before to help the Holy Land in her great need and because we hope that the aid sent to her and will be greater than that which has ever reached her before, listen when, again taking up the old cry, we cry to you. We cry on behalf of him who when dying cried with a loud voice on the cross, becoming obedient to God the father unto the death of the cross, crying out so that he might snatch us from the crucifixion of eternal death. He also cries out with his own voice and says, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,’ as if to say, to put it more plainly, ‘If anyone wishes to follow me to the crown, let him also follow me to the battle, which is now proposed as a test for all men.’ For it was entirely in the power of almighty God, if he had so wished, to prevent that land from being handed over into hostile hands. And if he wishes he can easily free it from the hands of the enemy, since nothing can resist his will. But when already wickedness had gone beyond all bounds and love in the hearts of many men had grown cold, he put this contest before his faithful followers to awaken them from the sleep of death to the pursuit of life, in which he might try their faith ‘as gold in the furnace.’ He has granted them an opportunity to win salvation, nay more, a means of salvation, so that those who fight faithfully for him will be crowned in happiness by him, but those who refuse to pay him the servant’s service that they owe him in a crisis of such great urgency will justly deserve to suffer a sentence of damnation of the Last Day of severe Judgment. . . .
For how can a man be said to love his neighbor as himself, in obedience to God’s command, when, knowing that his brothers, who are Christians in faith and in name, are held in the hands of the perfidious Saracens in dire imprisonment and are weighed down by the yoke of most heavy slavery, he does not do something effective to liberate them, thereby transgressing the command of that natural law which the Lord gave in the gospel, ‘Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them?’ Or perhaps you do not know that many thousands of Christians are being held in slavery and imprisonment in their hands, tortured by countless torments? . . . So rouse yourselves, most beloved sons, transforming your quarrels and rivalries, brother against brother, into associations of peace and affection; gird yourselves for the service of the Crucified One, not hesitating to risk your possessions and your persons for him who laid down his life and shed his blood for you, equally certain and sure that if you are truly penitent you will achieve eternal rest as a profit from this temporal labour. For we, trusting in the mercy of almighty God and the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, by that power of binding and loosing that God as conferred on us, although unworthy, grant to all those submitting to this labour personally or at their own expense full forgiveness of their sins, of which they make truthful oral confession with contrite hearts, and as the reward of the just we promise them a greater share of eternal salvation.”
Speech given by al-Harawi, 1099, Baghdad: “During the First Crusade, the crusaders laid siege on Jerusalem for forty days and slaughtered every single Muslim living within the city walls. Abu Sa’ed al-Harawi was one of those fortunate enough to escape and after making his way to Baghdad, he burst into the Diwan of the Khalifa, al-Mustazhir Billah, and spoke words that shook the entire Ummah. . . . Wearing no turban, his head shaved as a sign of mourning, the venerable Qadi (Muslim chief judge) Abu Sa’ad al-Hawari cried loudly into the spacious Diwan (audience hall) of the caliph al-Mustazhir Billah, a throng of companions, young and old, trailing in his wake. Noisily assenting to (agreeing with) his every word, they, like him, offered the chilling spectacle of long beards and shaven heads. A few of the court dignitaries tried to calm him, but al-Hawari swept them aside with disdain, strode resolutely to the center of the hall, and then, with the searing eloquence of a seasoned preacher, al-Hawari proceeded to lecture to all those present, without regard to rank. ‘How dare you slumber in the shade of complacent safety, leading lives as frivolous as garden flowers, while your brothers in Syria have no dwelling place save the saddles of camels and the bellies of the vultures? Blood has been spilled! Beautiful young girls have been shamed, and must now hide their sweet faces in their hands! Shall the valorous Arabs resign themselves to insult, and the valiant Persians accept dishonor?’ ‘It was a speech that brought tears to many an eye and moved men’s hearts,’ the Arab chroniclers later wrote. The entire audience broke out in wails and lamentations, but al-Harawi had not come to elicit sobs. ‘Men’s meanest weapon,’ he shouted, ‘is to shed tears when rapiers stir the coals of war.’”
Source: Amin Maalouf, The Crusades through Arab Eyes (Schocken Books, 1984), pp. xiii-xiv.
Prayer by Ibn al-Mawsiliya, 11th century scholar: “O God, raise the banner of Islam and its helper and refute polytheism by wounding its back and cutting its ropes. Help those who fight jihad for Your sake and who in obedience to you have sacrificed themselves and sold their souls to You. . . . Because they persist in going astray, may the eyeball of the proponents of polytheism become blind to the paths of righteousness.”
Source: Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives [Edinburgh University Press, 1999], p. 165, note 114, citing al-Husayni, Akhbar al-dowla al-saljuqiyya.
Inscription on the minbar built for Nur al-Din in hopes of the conquest of Jerusalem, and carried by Salahuddin to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after the reconquest: “Its construction has been ordered by the servant [of God] the one needful of His mercy, the one thankful for His grace, the fighter of jihad in His path, the one who defends [the frontiers] against the enemies of His religion, the just king, Nur al-Din, the pillar of Islam and the Muslims, the dispenser of justice to those who are oppressed in the face of oppressors, Abu’l Qasim Mahmud ibn Zengi ibn Aqsunqur, the helper of the Commander of the Faithful [i.e. the caliph in Baghdad]. . . . May He grant conquest to him [Nur-al-Din] and at his own hands.”
Source: Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives [Edinburgh University Press, 1999], p. 152. See note 88, p. 169.