Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September 20, 1187 - Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem

September 20, 1187 - Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem.


At the end of September, Balian rode out with an embassy to meet with the sultan, offering the surrender that he had initially refused. Saladin would not accept this, seeing that as they spoke, his men had scaled the walls and planted their banners. Soon, however, the crusaders repelled their attack. Saladin acquiesced, and the two agreed that the city would be handed over to Saladin peacefully. The sultan allowed a ransom of twenty bezants for men, ten for women, and five for children, but those who could not pay were to be sold into slavery. Balian argued in vain that there were far more people who could not pay, as there were perhaps as many as 20000 refugees from elsewhere in the kingdom.

After returning to Jerusalem, it was decided that seven thousand of the poor inhabitants could be ransomed from money drawn from the treasury that Henry II of England had established there, which was being guarded by the Hospitallers. This money was meant to be used by Henry on a pilgrimage or a crusade, in penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, but the king never arrived, and his treasury had already been used to pay mercenaries for the Battle of Hattin.

Balian met with Saladin again and the sultan agreed to lower the ransom to ten bezants for men, five for women, and one for children. Balian argued that this would still be too great, and Saladin suggested a ransom of 100 000 bezants for all the inhabitants. Balian thought this was impossible, and Saladin said he would ransom seven thousand people for no lower than 50 000 bezants. Finally it was decided that Saladin would free the seven thousand for 30 000 bezants; two women or ten children would be permitted to take the place of one man for the same price.

Surrender of the city

Balian handed over the keys to the Tower of David, the citadel, on October 2. It was announced that every inhabitant had about a month to pay their ransom, if they could (the length of time was perhaps 30 to 50 days, depending on the source). Saladin was generous and freed some of those who were forced into slavery; his brother Saphadin did the same, and both Balian and Heraclius, not wishing to be seen less generous than their enemies, freed many others with their own money. Saladin also allowed for an orderly march away from Jerusalem and prevented the sort of massacre that had occurred when the crusaders captured the city in 1099. Even Heraclius, who disgusted the Muslim chronicler Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani by hoarding all his wealth and the treasures of the church instead of contributing to the ransom of the poor, was escorted
from the city unmolested. The ransomed inhabitants marched away in three columns; the Templars and Hospitallers led the first two, with Balian and the Patriarch leading the third. Balian and his family were permitted to flee to Tripoli.

I note for the sake of those screaming conservatives that say Islam is a violent religion that almost all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were freed without conversion, sold into slavery or death. Saladin is one of the greatest heroes of Islam, wouldn’t it make sense that if the religion required the sword he would have been one to use it?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rockey Who?

I am sure almost everyone reading this knows the name Spike Lee. Lee has been twice nominated for an Oscar. His latest project is "When the Levees Broke,” a documentary on the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the government's response to the crisis. It is presented as "A Requiem in Four Acts.” The documentary is airing on HBO. Spike Lee is no stranger to controversy and many of his films have caused a stir even before their release. Despite the subject matter of this newest project, the Main Stream Media (MSM) virtually ignored Lee in preference to a man named Rockey Vaccarella. Or as I like to call him, Rockey Who? The Bush administration had once again diverted attention away from their monumental mismanagement of the Katrina aftermath with a White House lawn photo op.

Bush spoke on the South Lawn of the White House after meeting in the Oval Office with a New Orleans-area man who lost his home in the storm. Rockey Vaccarella, 41, of Meraux in St. Bernard Parish, has been traveling the Gulf Coast region to mark the Katrina anniversary.
"I told Rockey the first obligation of the federal government is to write a check big enough to help the people down there," Bush said. "And I told him that to the extent that there's still bureaucratic hurdles, and the need for the federal government to help eradicate those hurdles, we want to do that."

I wanted to know who this guy was. Here is some of the information I found:


In fact, we had a hunch -- that maybe, just maybe, Rockey Vaccarella had a background himself in GOP politics.

And, whaddya know? Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999. We don't have a good link, but here (via Nexis) is part of his bio that ran in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct. 15, 1999:

35. Born in New Orleans. Grew up in Arabi and Chalmette. Lived 11 years in Meraux.
Married, two children.
Graduated from Chalmette High, 1982. Attended St. Bernard Community College.
Director of operations, Lundy Enterprises, as manager of 31 Pizza Hut restaurants and 450 employees. Former general restaurant manager of Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits on East Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette

One of things that Rockey did during his visit to Bush was tell the press he wished Bush could have a third term. A suggestion that Bush feigned embarrassment when made. The MSM never reported anything on Rockey’s past except that “he had lost everything to Katrina.” Many of those 31 Pizza Huts survived Katrina since they were spread over a wide range in the south. He was back at work in a relatively short period.

So you say what the harm is with Rockey having his fifteen minutes of fame. Nothing except it was at the expense of filmmaker Lee. Documentaries are not the big budget productions that dramatic films are. Almost all HBO’s entire promotion budget was spent on plugging “When the Levees Broke” on the HBO networks themselves. The news cycles that would have normally highlighted Lee’s film were supplanted by coverage of Rockey. The film debuted on HBO without the publicity it would have normally had. Yes, the film was critical of the administration’s response to Katrina but instead of trying to correct the mismanagement of the response, the administration instead chose to stifle criticism. Bush and his administration gave a lot of lip service to rebuilding New Orleans last week during the one-year anniversary of Katrina then went about business as normal after leaving town.

Last week during that anniversary, New Orleans had a visitor from one of the countries that suffered from the tsunami. He said he did not understand how his country was able to recover faster and better than the United States. In addition, how the United States helped in his country’s recovery but it looked like America couldn’t help itself. Remember when the Iraq vote took place, remote voting stations were setup over the U.S. for Iraqis living here to vote. When New Orleans had elections, no such accommodations were made for the approximately 400,000 displaced American citizens from New Orleans. If I were more cynical, I might think this is being done on purpose.