Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Yes, I am really upset about this.

Jay Manifold has another piece on the museum looting. He is of the opinion that all the ranting of the anti-war movement over the last twelve months is a case of "the movement that cried wolf", and when there is something that is really worth getting upset against, we are just getting responses along the lines of "That's just the anti-Americanism talking again". I wasn't going to respond again, but I feld like saying something, so I sent Jay an e-mail. Having written it, I now feel I may as well post it.


I've just been echoing the sorts of things you've been saying on my blog, and I'm starting to wonder if there is much point posting any more. This whole episode practically makes me sick. This isn't just any museum there - this is where civilzation came from. Figuring out just precisely how and why it happened is one of the most inspiring things that it is possible to do, and people don't seem to get this. I don't really care one way or another about people who want to loot Saddam Hussein's palaces, but the looting of the museum is a catastrophe.

No, I actually don't think the US military is the principal villain here. But once again they don't get it. (With his contemptuous comment about "vases", Rumsfeld clearly doesn't get it). If however, the point had been rammed home over and over again before the military got to Baghdad, then they may have only paid attention. (All it really needed was about ten guys with guns). The point is not that looting occurred. The point is what was looted.

I would at least have hoped that a smart guy like Glenn Reynolds would have got this, but apparently not. I could do without his "There’s just no pleasing some people — but then, I don’t think they want to be pleased, at least not with the doings of the United States" comment, too. Plus we have Jeff Jarvis' "In a war, you're a bit busy worrying about things other than the priorities an NPR audience would set" observation, which seems to suggest that caring about invention of writing somehow makes me some sort of self indulgent chattering class type who needs to start worrying about the sorts of things that real people find important.

I am about as far from being anti-American as it is possible to be, and I have helped out with condemning every idiocy that has come from the anti-war folks in the last year, but criticism where it is due. And here, sadly, it is due.

Sorry for ranting. I'm really upset about this. I don't care about blame so much as that I am really upset about the loss of these treasures. One of the reasons I wanted to see Saddam Hussein overthrown - a relatively minor reason compared to all the other reasons for fighting the war - was that it appalled me to see a place so important in the hands of such a vicious thug. Overthrowing him would mean that archaeologists could once again visit the country. It would even mean that I could visit the country and look at things like those in the museum. (There is undoubtedly still plenty to see, so I still may do this). This is civilization being vandalised.


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