From the Daily Beast:
Medieval Europe was a crossroads of global influence, not a mythical all-white past. The new Notre Dame should reflect that.
04.19.19 10:39 PM ET, OPINION
… If you ask me, in honor of Notre Dame’s history, the new roof needs to be a brand new design, representative of today and not of the past.
Why? Well, the restoration and preservation of historical buildings is based on an idea that there is an original state of things that can be reached if later additions and influences are done away with.
The idea of there being an ‘original state of things’ is also what dominates the worldview of the far right, who use their interpretation of the Middle Ages as a template for how they believe society should be.
While Notre Dame was burning, conspiracy theories began to surface, and declarations were made of the fire portending the end of Western civilization and its Judeo-Christian values. Instead, what was happening was the destruction of a medieval past that has, in all honesty, never existed.
Western civilization is a term that grew out of the creation of history as a topic of study at the universities in England, Germany, and France in the 19th century. In her book History. Why It Matters, historian Lynn Hunt states that “history grew as an academic discipline in tandem with nationalism and a growing conviction of European superiority over the rest of the world.” This conviction led to the West “being portrayed as the source of technical innovation and cultural advancement,” also known as “modernity.”
The origins of “modernity” were found in a distorted interpretation of the Middle Ages, which medievalist Dorothy Kim traces to the German Völkisch movement, also in the 19th century. According to Kim, this movement “rewrote history, drawing from folklore such as that of Brothers Grimm, medieval epics and a dedication to racial white supremacy.”
From these two developments, the term “Western civilization” emerged in the 1890s
“Western civilization” is a Jewish-friendly substitute for the older term “Christendom.”
, but it didn’t come into everyday use until the 20th century was well underway. According to philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, the term “West” is used in contrast to something else. During the age of Imperialism it was used in contrast to Asia; during the Cold War in contrast to Communist Europe and the Soviet Union; and today to Latin America, Africa, and Asia (also known as “the Global South”), and the Muslim world. Looking at the world from this point of view, “West” and “Western civilization” come to mean the United States, Europe, and Christianity.
With Notre Dame cathedral as the heart of the Île de la Cité, the Île de la Cité as the heart of Paris, Paris as the heart of France, and France as the heart of Western Christendom. This idea is perhaps not quite a thousand years old yet, but it’s awfully old.
This brings us to the notion of Judeo-Christian values, where once again the Middle Ages are used to make an argument that actually misrepresents the time period. In the eyes of those who promote the ideas of Western civilization and so-called Judeo-Christian values, the Middle Ages stand out as the ideal time period when Europe was a white society united in a homogenous Christian culture led by one single Christian institution.
Such a view of the Middle Ages is inaccurate. In fact, what is considered to be European culture, in the past and today, is an amalgamation of impulses from all over the world.
As you moronic alt-righters would know if you were keeping up to date on your television-watching. If you’d watched the new Mary Queen of Scots, you would have seen that there were black and Chinese members of the Scottish aristocracy in the 16th Century. But you are so hatefully ignorant that you didn’t know that.
During the Middle Ages, Europe communicated closely with Africa, Asia, and the Middle East using networks that were several thousand years old.
For example, children still play the game “Marco Polo” because he was just one of millions of travelers who went back and forth each year between Europe and China then.
And Richard the Lionhearted “communicated closely” with the Middle East.
And I’m sure I’ll come up with the name of a sub-Saharan traveler any moment now …
You can tell that medieval Europeans were communicating closely with the rest of the world from their Grand Strategy of getting in touch with the legendary Christian king Prester John out there somewhere, either in Asia or perhaps in Africa, and getting him to open a second front against the Musselmen. Obviously, the existence of the Prester John concept proves Europeans were closely communicating with the rest of the world.
Important to keep in mind is that at this point in time, Europe was located at the periphery of the world economic system, whose center lay in the civilizations surrounding the Indian Ocean.
Even though the Catholic Church was the dominating religious institution in the Middle Ages, it did not have monopoly on religion. Medieval Europe was the home of Orthodox Christians, Jews, pagans, and Muslims. The idea of a shared Judeo-Christian medieval origin is immediately contradicted by what we know of the church’s persecution of the Jews living in medieval Europe, perhaps best illustrated by the two sculptures known as Ecclesia and Sinagoga, visible on the façade of Notre Dame itself. These two sculptures represent Christianity’s triumph over Judaism and were a common sight during the 12th and 13th centuries.
… Nevertheless, Notre Dame’s new roof should be a representation of the architecture of the first decades of the 21st century, more in the spirit of the pyramid at the Louvre than the spire that no longer defines the Paris city silhouette.
Macron should commission misanthropic Los Angeles starchitect Thom Mayne to redo Notre Dame in the manner of his CalTrans building so that the cathedral looks like a Thought Police Academy.
Now that would be in tune with the times.