Friday, April 25, 2003

Looters Be Damned

As usual, Mark Steyn has the best piece so far on the thefts from the Iraqi National Museum by organized thieves (not random looters as has generally been reported around the world). He made light of the impact in a previous column, sparking an indignant letter to the National Post, to which he responded:

[Editor of the London Spectator] Boris Johnson called the Iraqi museum's contents "the equivalent of the Crown Jewels, things that were meant eternally to incarnate the culture of your land." But the Crown Jewels matter because they symbolize reality -- the peaceful constitutional order that the Queen's subjects have enjoyed for centuries. By contrast, the contents of the Baghdad museum symbolize everything that the monstrous reality of Saddam's Iraq rejected -- law, government, progress, innovation, vitality. So a lawless regime preserved the records of the first legal code in a glass case, and for most of the last few years you couldn't even get in to see it. The past was just another Saddamite plaything, appropriated for some useful regime-propping imagery but otherwise disposable. Before they got diverted into jumping on the Bush-bashing bandwagon, the students of antiquity were more concerned with Saddam's dam project at Makhul, which was threatening to submerge Assur, the old capital of the Assyrian empire. There's a fine image: civilization's cradle being thrown out by the Baath water. As usual, it fell to British, American and European archaeological teams to plan to rescue as much of "Iraq's past" as they could.


No comments: