Continuing with my rebuttals to the anti-Catholic bigotry that appears to be running rampant of late, I wanted to post a defense of The Knights of Malta, as they’ve been another target of not only conspiracy nuts like Alex Jones, but sadly enough, some conservative talkers with whom I am acquainted. It should be quite obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that professional conspiracy theorist Jones — who once harassed Michelle Malkin at the DNC screaming “Kill Malkin!” — is nothing but a profiteering opportunist. Far from giving him any credence whatsoever, conservatives ought to continue to expose this guy as the fraud he is, or at the very least, ignore him.
But apparently when it comes to trashing the Catholic Church, any source will do. Thus, I recently heard a friend state on the radio that The Knights of Malta, the Jesuits and the Pope are all part of the Illuminati and the New World Order — out to conquer the world, citing an article from InfoWars.
In my research I also came across this piece from NPR about the Knights of Malta’s 900th Anniversary:
The last of the great chivalrous orders is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its official recognition by Pope Paschal II. On Saturday, the Knights attended Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and received an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
The Knights of Malta is also known as the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
The order’s mission is humility and charity; its 13,500 members — Knights and Dames — trace their origins to warrior friars.
The order started in the 11th century, with the creation of an infirmary in Jerusalem that cared for people making pilgrimages to the Holy Land during the Crusades.
Like the Knights Templars, the Knights of Malta used religious intensity and military force to defend Christendom from the advance of Islam.
When Jerusalem was conquered by Muslims, the order made its base first on Cyprus, then Rhodes, and then Malta. It finally made its home in Rome after Napoleon expelled the order from Malta in 1798.
Emphasis mine. Isn’t it ironic that the organization that’s credited with defending Christianity and Western Civilization from Muslims is derided by a nut who believes that 9/11 was an “inside job”? I expect this sort of cognitive dissidence from Jones, but to hear it parroted by someone I respect in the conservative movement, someone who wields tremendous influence and a loyal audience, is disheartening to say the least.
The Knights were also featured in an article in Foreign Policy, which references the conspiracy theories surrounding them:
Because of its secretive proceedings, unique political status, and association with the Crusades, the order has been a popular target for conspiracy theorists. Alleged members have included former CIA Directors William Casey and John McCone, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, and GOP fixture Pat Buchanan, though none have ever acknowledged membership. Various theories have tied the Knights to crimes including the Kennedy assassination and spreading the AIDS virus through its clinics in Africa.
In 2006, a newspaper article in the United Arab Emirates claimed that the Knights were directly influencing U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, reprising their role in the Crusades. Following the article, Islamist websites in Egypt urged followers to attack the order’s embassy in Cairo, forcing the organization to issue a statement denying any military role.
To be fair, the Knights have been involved in their fair share of political intrigues. In 1988, the charge d’affaires at the order’s embassy in Havana confessed to being a double agent, reporting to both the CIA and Cuban intelligence. According to journalist Jeremy Scahill’s book Blackwater, Joseph Schmitz, a former executive at the company who also served as inspector general for the U.S. Department of Defense, boasted of his membership in the Knights in his official biography. The defense contractor now known as Xe’s chief executive, Erik Prince, reportedly espoused Christian supremacist beliefs, and its contractors in Iraq used codes and insignia based on the order’s medieval compatriots, the Knights of the Templar. However, there’s no evidence to suggest the Knights of Malta had any direct influence over the company.
So while the group is, for the most part, a charitable organization with little resemblance to the sinister portrait painted by its detractors, an image-makeover might be in order as it finishes off its 10th century.
Fair enough. Perhaps a new PR campaign is in order, if only to reassure the people who might fall captive to the bizarre notion Jones is peddling that the Knights of Malta, the Jesuits, the Pope and the Catholic Church are controlling their minds for the purpose of achieving world domination.
Finally, here’s another bit of history about The Knights of Malta, from their website:
The Order remained without a territory of its own until 1530, when Grand Master Fra’ Philippe de Villiers de l’Isle Adam took possession of the island of Malta, granted to the Order by Emperor Charles V with the approval of Pope Clement VII. It was decided that the Order should remain neutral in any war between Christian nations.
In 1565 the knights, led by Grand Master Fra’ Jean de la Vallette defended the island for more than three months during the Great Siege of the Ottomans.
Following this victory the city and port of La Valletta was built and named after the Grand Master, its founder. The knights transformed Malta, undertaking urban construction projects: palaces and churches were built, as well as formidable new defence bastions and gardens. Architecture flourished as well as artistic patronage. The island was given a large new hospital, considered to be one of the best organised and most effective in the world. A school of anatomy was also founded and the faculty of medicine followed. In particular, the Order contributed to the development of ophthalmology and pharmacology.
As well as these activities, for centuries the Order of Malta’s fleet took part in the most important manoeuvres in the Mediterranean against the Ottoman fleet and against North African pirates.
Seems to me we owe them a debt of gratitude for saving Christianity and paving the way for so many societal advances. Where would Western Civilization be today if the Knights had failed?
UPDATE: I’ve removed the first video I’d originally posted after my friend Bob Belvedere noticed that Derek was just as kooky as Alex Jones. That will teach me to watch videos when I’m tired! Thanks for alerting me Bob, much-appreciated.