Timeless Insights for General Stanley McChrystal from Historian Edward Augustus Freeman (d. 1892)

Edward A. Freeman, a fierce 19th century opponent of jihad-imposed dhimmitude, and its Western Power abettors


Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-92), was a highly esteemed and influential British historian. Freeman was born at Harborne, in Staffordshire, and educated at Oxford, where he became a Fellow of Trinity College, and later Regius Professor of Modern History. One of the leading Victorian writers on English medieval history, Freeman’s most enduring achievement is his six-volume “The History of the Norman Conquest of England” (1867-1879). He was also an authority on the ancient world, especially the development of Greek civilization.


Freeman additionally took an active part in the politics of his own day, and was a passionate supporter of modern Greece and the struggle of Orthodox Christians in the Balkans for independence from the Ottoman Empire. He expounded such views for non-academic audiences writing for many years in the Saturday Review.


Freeman’s major published works include “History of Architecture” (1849); “Essay on Window Tracery” (1850); “Architecture of Llandaff Cathedral” (1851); “History and Conquest of the Saracens” (1856); “Ancient Greece and Mediaeval Italy: (in “Oxford Essays” for 1858); “History of Federal Government” (1863); “Old English History” (1869); “History of the Cathedral Church of Wells” (1870); “Historical Essays” (1871; 2d series, 1873); “Growth of the English Constitution” (1872); “Comparative Politics” (1873); and “History of the Norman Conquest,” his magnum opus (6 vols., 1867-79).


Freeman’s sadly timeless insights on Islam would be particularly edifying for General Stanley McChrystal. These are germane extracts from “History and Conquest of the Saracens—Six Lectures Delivered Before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institute” (1856; re-published in 1876, MacMillan and Company), pp. 202-203:


Mahometanism [Islam] is essentially an obstructive, intolerant system…It has consecrated despotism; it has consecrated polygamy; it has consecrated slavery. It has declared war against every other creed; it has claimed to be at least dominant in every land…When it ceases to have an enemy to contend against, it sinks into sluggish stupidity and into a barbarism far viler…It must have an enemy; if cut off…from conflict with the infidel, it finds its substitute in sectarian hatred of brother Moslems…


[Islam] has done nothing for man in his highest earthly capacity, as the citizen of a free state; it has done nothing for the higher of even his purely speculative capacities…It has by its aggressive tenets brought them into direct antagonism with the creed and civilization of the West.


And speaking most directly to General McChrystal’s fantasy Islam, Freeman (p. 203) decried the dangerous naivete of those (like McChrystal and his ilk),


…who expect to see a Mahometan [Islamic] state [like Afghanistan] become tolerant and civilized without ceasing to be Mahometan…So long as a government remains Mahometan, so long must it be intolerant at home; so long will it only be restrained by weakness from offering to other lands the old election of “Koran, Tribute, or Sword.”

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

2 responses to “Timeless Insights for General Stanley McChrystal from Historian Edward Augustus Freeman (d. 1892)

  1. youcancallmemeyer@hotmail.com' youcancallmemeyer

    No doubt you have read Churchill’s view as it’s been on the web for quite a few years.

    Sir Winston Churchill (The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green | 1899

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

    The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities – but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

    Nothing has changed from Freeman to Churcill, it seems.

    Alexis de Tocqueville made similar observations to Freeman’s on the subjects of enlightment and democracy:

    Democracy in America, Volume II (1840)

    “Muhammad brought down from heaven and put into the Koran not religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and civil laws, and scientific theories. The Gospels, on the other hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God and between man and man. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy, while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all others.”

    Great quotes from Freeman. Thanks for the research work.

  2. Thank you, Dr. Bostom and Meyer.

    Here’s another:

    And he [Jesus] declared, that the enjoyment of felicity in the world hereafter, would be reward of the practice of benevolence here. His whole law was resolvable into the precept of love; peace on earth – good will toward man, was the early object of his mission; and the authoritative demonstration of the immortality of man, was that, which constituted the more than earthly tribute of glory to God in the highest . . . The first conquest of the religion of Jesus, was over the unsocial passions of his disciples. It elevated the standard of the human character in the scale of existence . . . On the Christian system of morals, man is an immortal spirit, confined for a short space of time, in an earthly tabernacle. Kindness to his fellow mortals embraces the whole compass of his duties upon earth, and the whole promise of happiness to his spirit hereafter. THE ESSENCE OF THIS DOCTRINE IS, TO EXALT THE SPIRITUAL OVER THE BRUTAL PART OF HIS NATURE.

    [. . .]

    “In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE

    [. . .]

    Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant . . . While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men.” [p. 269]

    John Quincy Adams