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April 16, 2003

Murder of a Culture

The looting and destruction of the National Museum was bad enough, but now it turns out that thousands of Qurans, many over 1000 years old, were burned in a fire at the Ministry for Religious Affairs.

"When Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258, these books survived," said Abdel Karim Anwar Obeid, 42, the ministry's general manager for administration. "And now they didn't survive. You can't put a price on this loss.

"If you talk to any intellectual Muslims in the world, they are crying right now over this," he added.

This is the why war is so bad and should always be the last resort.

I will never be convinced that war, especially the hyperactive rush to it by the Bush administration, was reasonable when non-violent global pressure had not been exhausted.

This is a murder of a culture on multiple levels.

And as the rest of the linked article emphasizes, the Iraqis resent it and hate us for it. Sure they may hate Saddam more-- but winning that popularity contest is a a pretty shallow silver medal.

Posted by Nathan at April 16, 2003 08:20 AM

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Any inication who actually lit these fires in the libraries? I'm just wondering if these are Saddam's people, American bombs gone astray, or simply accidents.

By the way I don't think it makes much difference as regards our ultimate responsibility for the destruction - after all, we're the ones who invaded! We've proven ourselves remarkably ignorant when it comes to these cultural artifacts...

Posted by: paul at April 16, 2003 10:05 AM

Responsibles for the museum wich keeps the ancient artifacts from mesopotamian people, said they asked for an american soldiers' help on guarding and protecting it.

What did they do? Ignored it.

Aproximmatedly 50,000 antiques were stolen. Just for that Bush government should be retaliated for despising not only its people but a culture of thousands of years.

And still there are people claiming that the greedy coalitian would help.

Lovers of history and culture now joined peace and justice lovers on their mourning.

Posted by: guilherme at April 16, 2003 11:16 AM

"Muhammad said he found a U.S. Abrams tank in Museum Square, about 300 yards away, and that five Marines had followed him to the museum and opened fire above the looters' heads. This drove several thousand of the marauders out of the museum complex in minutes, he said, but when the tank crewmen left about 30 minutes later, the looters returned."

full article: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/04/13/MN147650.DTL

Posted by: guilherme at April 16, 2003 11:40 AM

The Iraqi's loot THEIR OWN museum and who do you blame?...THE AMERICANS! Your logic makes no sense. If they have no respect for there own history, thats there own business. All we can do is encourage them not to loot. -Respectfully
-Robert S. Morgan

Posted by: Robert S. Morgan at April 16, 2003 12:38 PM

Well, it's starting. The "Robert S. Morgan"s of the US are already re-categorizing the Iraqis. Blame the victim so Mr. Morgan doesn't have to fix Iraq out of his precious tax monies.

Hey Robert, would you expect a city of 5 million to have maybe a few of criminal persuasion? Destroy the civil structure and not expecting the criminals to have a field day is pretty naive.

The blame lies on the people who upset the apple cart, not the rabble who took the apples.

Posted by: doesn't matter at April 16, 2003 01:30 PM

If they have no respect for there own history, thats there own business. All we can do is encourage them not to loot.

Those silly wogs! They can't even be trusted with their own country. We begged them not to loot, but they just wouldn't listen! What were we supposed to do? We were helpless! Why we barely escaped with our lives!

Is this what you mean, Robert Morgan?

Posted by: Paul at April 16, 2003 03:17 PM

Even worse than those stupid "Iraqi's" who have no respect for "there" own culture are Americans who have no respect for "there" own language's rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Way to go, RSM!

Posted by: RSM fan at April 16, 2003 04:59 PM

This is the last time i respond you Mr. Morgan, i consider you worse than a cockroach, they would keep their mouth shut on this.I would ask you why there are security in every museum in this world, but, what for?

You ignore your ignorance, consciously. Like you said before, you are an average american citizen and i add shortminded, arrogant, media-oriented and, again, ignorant. A despisable thing. I regret losing my time with you.

Sorry for all fellow americans who not agree with this average opinion, unfortunately you guys are minority, excuse my generalization.

Posted by: guilherme at April 16, 2003 06:55 PM

The world will never forget America is the land of miles davis, luther king, hemingway, to name a few, despite the average people living in it right now.

Posted by: guilheme at April 16, 2003 07:16 PM

O tempora, o mores.

It was not always thus.

In World War II, American soldiers proudly stood guard defending the Keats and Shelley museum in the Piazza di Spagna in Rome the very night the invading allies marched into that city from the South (they bivouacked on the Piazza)-- One soldier was actually quoted as saying "I am proud to stand guard over poetry"!

The museum had been kept clandestine under Mussolini, who disapproved of "liberal" Anglophone culture and who had planned to run a highway through the Protestant Cemetery where Keats and Shelley lie buried. American soldiers, who included Jews and Negroes, filed up to pay tribute to the two English poets (and Byron) whose letters and other reliques were housed there.

One wonders these days who really won World War II.

Our own decline into cultural barbarism is well underway and not all the "CONservative MEN" their lies, plots, and wars can do anything to stop it. George W. Bush is now inscribed among the greatest vandals of all time in the book of world history. Not the least disturbing thing about this calamity is the cavalier attitude of Bush and his henchmen about this great crime against humanity.

Posted by: harold at April 16, 2003 10:53 PM

George W. Bush christened the Nero of Baghdad for he did naught but fiddle while his most important charge burned.

See excellent essay by the great Islamicist (That's Scholar of the religion of Islam Mr. Morgan, not radical Muslim i.e. ISLAMIST) Michael Sells "Watching the History of Civilization Burn: Nero in Baghdad" at http://counterpunch.org/sells04162003.html


Posted by: Barry Freed at April 17, 2003 03:50 AM

Let me add that as a scholar of Islamic studies myself (Graduate student at Yale) who works frequently with manuscripts I am simultaneously inconsolable and seething with anger. It was the responsibility of those who were sweeping the previous order aside to instate some interim order in the meantime. The warnings were more than adequate (see the Sells article Again, see the Sells article. And the loss-to the Iraqis, to us all-is incalculable.

Posted by: Barry Freed at April 17, 2003 04:00 AM

This is the why war is so bad and should always be the last resort.

I will never be convinced that war, especially the hyperactive rush to it by the Bush administration, was reasonable when non-violent global pressure had not been exhausted.

War is always about death and destruction. Just as Edwin Starr sang, "War can't ever give life...it can only take it away."

But, for the rabid war hawks out there, it's all just A-OK. The U.S. is "credible" now, standing tall in the saddle again. The world will bow before us...all dissent and disagreement silenced....

Posted by: Richard P. at April 17, 2003 04:07 PM

First, Mr. Guileherme, I don't know what you could have interpreted as a personel attack on you in my post, but ouch...I guess you showed me.
Now, To the ones who actually matter, I admit, I was wrong.
It seems evidence shows now that the lootings were actually the works of professional thieves, not citizens of Iraq.
Even then, are you gonna justify that the liberation of a country was not worth the loss of a couple antiquities?
-Respectfully(including Ol' Guli)
-Robert S. Morgan
P.S.- Sorry bout the grammical error, Webster

Posted by: Robert S. Morgan at April 18, 2003 11:24 PM

"Even then, are you gonna justify that the liberation of a country was not worth the loss of a couple antiquities?" - Robert Morgan

a *COUPLE* of antiques?? Don't you have *any* clue as where your western civilisation comes from????? Our alphabet, our religion, our astronomy and other science, it all started thousands of years ago in the middle east. I guess people like Robert Morgan think the world started when their great-grandparents settled in the "new world".

For centuries and centuries, the middle east was the magnificent center of the world in many respects, including the arts and science. The records and artifacts of that great era where looted and destroyed during the anarchy and lawlessless that followed the removal of the Iraqi regime by the coalition. This is not only an incredibly devastating blow to the record of human history, it is also a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, that state that occupying (or liberating) armies are responsible for the cultural treasures in the invaded/liberated country.

I have no words to express my feelings of revolt and anger, realizing that US tanks *did* protect the building of the ministry of Oil, but completely ignored the looting of large, invaluable and irreplacable parts of our world's history. The USA of today will go down in history as ignorant cultural barbarians.

Posted by: jon at April 19, 2003 03:22 PM

'a couple antiquities'
-Mr. Morgan

Average american has a good share of responsability on this massacre over culture and iraq people supporting their government's actions blindly.

I feel attacked by your government, Bob, and by their supporters, since you are part of them, i feel attacked by you and insulted by your shallows answers and ignorance (lack of knowledge). Nothing personnal.

I, myself, have the opinion that american government strength are based in 3 things in the past decades:

-its people ignorance, working with it since school and high school
-american blind cinematography
-media support to those 2 above

go read some DECENT books and come back here, you will understand, average american (including you Mr. Morgan).

with all due respect

Posted by: guilherme at April 20, 2003 06:18 PM

Iraq's treasures have been found in american airports.

Who are the looters?

Posted by: guilherme at April 24, 2003 12:41 PM

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