Hear, hear! Before we insert ourselves in a sectarian conflict of Sunni vs. Shia in Syria, Iraq and beyonjd, Hoffman asks us to consider what bloody horrors we "reasonable, rational" Europeans inflicted on ourselves during our sectarian wars [emphasis mine]:
The agreements reached in Westphalia followed 130 years of strife, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, when Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England beat back Catholic King Philip II of Spain’s rampage across Europe to put down heresy. Other rulers fomented mob violence with incidents such as the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France, when the Catholic king targeted well-born Protestants. The king’s assassins murdered nobles in their beds while commoners knifed and strangled Protestant neighbors in the streets.One-quarter of Europe’s population was killed during the devastating Thirty Years' War (1618-48), another bloody phase of the Reformation. Brutal punishments included burning at the stake and pouring excrement down the throats of captives, a torture known as the “Swedish drink.” War spread famine and bubonic plague across Europe. Like now, greed complicated religious conflict, as combatants wrestled over lands and gold.Exhausted, Protestants and Catholics finally agreed to negotiate. Gathering in separate towns, they sent messengers back and forth to avoid seeing one another’s despised faces. After five years of argument, the Peace of Westphalia concluded the tragic wars of religion. Separation of church and state took hold.
By Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
September 16, 2014 | Reuters