Goodbye, Ancient Past.. Hello, Muslim Future.
Sometimes, when America can be blamed, the media seem to care a great deal about the preservation of antiquities.
On April 13, 2003, the New York Times seemed mortified when it reported ($) "Pillagers Strip Iraqi Museum Of Its Treasure." The Washington Post quoted workers at the Baghdad antiquities museum as wailing "Our heritage is finished." The Post itself asserted that "Looters Destroyed What War Did Not." The London Daily Telegraph calmly declared "Looters strip Iraqi National Museum of its antiquities." The day prior the Associated Press apprised us that 'Looters Swarm Into New Areas of Baghdad' and as a result 'National Museum Ransacked.'
From every corner of the planet and by every modern means available came declarations of how irresponsibly the U.S. had managed its occupation of Iraq, Baghdad in particular. The result, we were told, was that a great majority of Iraq's antiquities had been destroyed, damaged, lost, looted or spirited away never again to be seen, studied and treasured. Far less pointed were any second—thought reminders that the Iraqis had looted or destroyed their own priceless antiquities, the accumulated treasure of millennia.
As months passed and the Baghdad Museum story faded from the headlines, we learned that the destruction and loss were a great deal less serious than at first loudly reported. Much of what was missing was being recovered. A large number of the most valuable pieces had never been touched. Flooding the museum's underground vaults had kept them safe and out of the hands of the barbarian invaders — Iraqi looters, that is.
The criticism of the American military for not having prevented or quickly halted the looting that followed our occupation of Baghdad is not entirely without merit. Whether or not we had sufficient forces available to have done so is one question that lingers. That the preservation of greater order in the city would have been beneficial to both the U.S. occupying forces and the Baghdadis themselves seems beyond debate. A quick restoration of order would have been better for everyone — other than the Baathists and jihadis, perhaps.
When it comes to looting, most often invading armies are the ones responsible. As Mr. Rocca noted ($) at the American Spectator
The Louvre and the British Museum are monuments not only to the glory of Britain and France, but to the civilizations they despoiled in their reigns as great powers. Say this at least for the American empire: it must be the first in history to leave all the pillaging to the people it conquers.
We do have a funny way of doing things. Such as going to war, over and above any benefit that may accrue to us, so as to improve the lives and bring freedom to those we conquer. But riot, insurrection, bombardment or invading armies aren't the only threats to the preservation of history, and all its little bits and pieces in whatever form they may be found or wherever they may happen to exist.
A hazard that is characteristic of our modern world is the destruction of our own historical heritage. Destruction, that is, of the bits that get in our way, ancient or recent, buried or otherwise. Artifacts that happen to be inconveniently placed and which frustrate government initiatives.
Sometimes, when Euro—socialists are culpable, the media seem to care little or not at all about Western antiquities.
At least that seems to be the case in both Spain and France, where construction projects have recently uncovered ruins dating from the time of the Roman Empire. Here 'progress' has dictated that the antiquities thus discovered must be quickly covered over with concrete (the case in Spain) or, as is happening in France, completely destroyed by removing from the site everything found therein. Both approaches seem questionable, with the issue of which is worse remaining unresolved.
On April 30, 2006, the Sunday Times of London reported 'Spain destroys lost Roman city for a car park.' Found in the excavation for the project was a veritable 'treasure trove of Roman history.' Archeologists discovered a well—preserved Roman forum, bath house, gymnasium and temple as well as dozens of private homes and hundreds of mosaics and statues — one of them considered to be among the finest (ever) found.
But now the bulldozers have moved in. The last vestiges of the lost city known as Colonia Augusta Firma Astigi — one of the great cities of the Roman world — have been destroyed to build an underground municipal car park.
Juan Wic, the mayor of Ecija, the small town in southern Spain desperately in need of additional 'central' parking spaces, is delighted at being able to keep his election pledge of finishing the 'car park project.' The socialist town council has few regrets about concretizing the ruins in spite of opposition from numerous archeological groups and the Spanish Royal Academy of Art.
The lame excuse is that if
they had it not dug up the main square, Plaza de Espana, to build the car park in 1998, the remains would never have been found.
That this may have been preferable seems lost on them. Unfortunately, there is now no possibility of restoring the 2,000—year—old Roman town.
Where's the outrage?
Where are the talking heads decrying this abomination? The video depicting the destruction of ancient treasures? The pillaging of history? Where are the Americans? Nowhere to be found? Whoops! Can't blame them. And there seems little likelihood that the Spaniards, like the Iraqis before them and the French after, will blame themselves.
Speaking of our French friends, on May 7, 2006, just a week later, the Associated Press reported
Construction Reveals Roman Ruins Beneath Paris.
Deep beneath pavement pounded by tourists on Paris' Left Bank lies an ancient path — a 2,000—year—old Roman road recently excavated during construction work.
Remnants of private houses rigged with baths and ingeniously heated floors were among the findings, now on view in a stunning dig. Over the next few weeks, however, archaeologists will rip up the ruins to make way for a research center.
Pave over or rip up? Some choice.
In the future it may but little matter what the mainstream media champions.
And choices are important. Such as the choice, that we moderns have, of deciding whether or not to perpetuate ourselves. The Europeans have apparently come down on the negative side of that existential question with the Spanish positioning themselves at the bottom of the European existential totem pole with a birthrate of only 1.1 children per woman. This is well below the replacement rate of approximately 2.1, plus or minus, children per woman. Fractional children being, of course, a modern existential concept.
In fact, the entire European population, what one would call 'native—European' as opposed to the immigrant population, is in decline as has been pointed out by many on many an occasion. Will there be any Europeans left, in sufficient numbers to make any difference that is, in a hundred years or so? Good question. If current trends continue, the Muslim takeover of Europe without a shot being fired, as forecast by the Imams and others who are Islamically inspired, seems inevitable.
And what will happen to the monuments left by the modern Europeans? The cathedrals, museums, or works of art depicting the human form? All those things the new rulers of Europe will consider idolatrous? How soon before they disappear? A safe assumption might be not nearly as long the giant Buddhas carved from solid rock that the Taliban decided had been around for a few too many centuries. We may even be getting to the point where the pyramids, temples and colossi of ancient Egypt are at risk. Stephen Schwartz, himself a Sufi Muslim, has warned us about the intense fervor of Wahhabism:
In 1925, Ibn Saud, founder of the present Saudi Arabian dynasty, ordered the wholesale destruction of the sacred tombs, graveyards, and mosques in Mecca and Medina.
The single exception being the tomb of Mohammed himself after an outcry by traditional Muslims. Can't image Wahhabi—inspired European Muslims showing any more deference for all things Christian, can you?
So, what the Europeans leave standing will be left for the new order in Europe to raze. What socialists everywhere, not just the European variety, fail to appreciate is that the past is part of us. Whether we wish it to be or not. One cannot have a future without having a past. And if one doesn't preserve one's own past, no one else will do it for you. Ibn Saud may have destroyed the Muslim archaeological past in Arabia. But he did keep their Book. And his descendents are determined that it will be the future.
For all of us.
Dennis Sevakis is a frequent contributor.