Monday, June 30, 2008

What's on my mind today

Photo by John Russell, from Saving Antiquities for Everyone, a fascinating if heart-breaking organization and web site where you can read this fascinating article

I'm tired of thinking about the massive goatfuck that has been the BushCo administration's Iraq "war"/occupation, and how our tax dollars and our economy and our futures are being squandered on no-bid contracts to corporate fuckers like Halliburton and Blackwater. I remember reading these articles about just how wisely all that money was handled in Iraq: from giant pallets of cash that just vanished to people tossing around bricks of hundreds in the most bizarre games of football ever played.

We still hear a lot about the funding of the war and occupation, and many blogs have those little dollar-counter widgets in their sidebars, tallying the ever-rising cost of the boondoggle in Iraq. However, we don't read too much anymore about the looting of artifacts that took place in Iraq shortly after the initial Shock and Awe (aka "nuke 'em 'til they glow") phase of the Iraq invasion. Here is an article from TomDispatch introducing an excerpt from Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Public, written by my personal hero Chalmers Johnson, about just what was lost in Iraq in those turbulent days--and how much our world has lost in terms of the history of human civilization. Note: I did a review of Chalmers' great book here.)

These lines really galled me:

These events were, according to Paul Zimansky, a Boston University archaeologist, "the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years." Eleanor Robson of All Souls College, Oxford, said, "You'd have to go back centuries, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, to find looting on this scale." Yet Secretary Rumsfeld compared the looting to the aftermath of a soccer game and shrugged it off with the comment that "Freedom's untidy. . . . Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes."
So one person compares the looting to that of the Mogol hordes; another calls it merely "untidy." In a testament to the BushCo mindset regarding anything remotely intellectual--history, culture, the arts, museums, and so forth--the entire quote was "Stuff happens. Freedom's untidy.... Free people are free to mistakes and commit crimes." (and yet they're still picking up people and throwing them into Gitmo--for what, exactly?) Truly mind-boggling.

We'll never know what all was lost, and what continues to be lost. I almost start crying when I think of that thrilling scene in National Treasure, where they discover among the treasure all the materials from the library at Alexandria--intact. To an old English major like me, it would be like Lancelot finding the Holy Grail.

But that was just a movie. No one will ever recover what was lost during the looting of Baghdad. From Tom Engelhardt:

Worse yet, the looting of antiquity, words and objects, not only never ended but seems to have accelerated. From well organized gangs of grave robbers to American engineers building bases to American soldiers taking souvenirs, the ancient inheritance not just of Iraqis but of all of us has simply headed south. According to
Reuters
, more than 1,000 Iraqi objects of antiquity have been confiscated at American airports; priceless cylinder seals are evidently selling on-line at eBay for a few hundred dollars apiece; and this represents just the tiniest fraction of what's gone. The process is not only unending, but in the chaos that is America's Iraq beyond counting or assessing accurately.
Another interesting article, from 2007, from the museum point of view. This was the most recent mention of the looting in Iraq that I was able to find on the interwebs.

13 comments:

DCup said...

The breadth and depth of the crimes of this administration are breathtaking.

FranIAm said...

It is heartbreaking, it is an outrage.

I am silenced by the weight of just this - then add in all the other awful shit and my rage explodes.

But no sounds come out.

I know that sounds depressing- it is.

DivaJood said...

"freedom's untidy?" Tell me, someone, please, how we've brought freedom to Iraq? "Stuff happens" and "free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes" is quite possibly the defining quote from the Bush Administration over 8 years. I can see Rumsfeld shrugging his shoulders, with a sort of "ya wanna make something out of it" look on his face. This is the modern equivalent of "Let them eat cake."

Randal Graves said...

If there's fucks that no one should like, it's goatfucks.

I'm with you on this. All that history that'll end up lost. I had no delusions of ever being able to visit Iraq in a "hey, let's check out museums!" way, but this just sucks.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I loathed Rumsfeld long before the looting began, but when I heard him say, "My goodness, how many antique vases could there have been?"
I wanted to shoot him in the head.
Like Bush, he has no appreciation of global culture or the historical value of their antiquities.
Their collective disdain for other nations and their history has helped diminish America's reputation globally.
If karma truly exists, there has got to be a firey, tortuous ending for them and people like them.

Liberality said...

If you don't give a rat's ass about art, history or culture then you wouldn't care about these crimes--yeah that's the Bush administration all over.

Dr. Zaius said...

The loss of the history of the cradle of civilation. It is indeed like the destruction of the library at Alexandria.

Distributorcap said...

like dcup said

the crimes of bush, cheney and rumsfeld are just of a magnitude never seen in american history

you dont want to know what i am thinking

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have to admit you lost me after "massive goatfuck", but once I finish being awed by your amazing way with words, I shall actually pay attention.

DivaJood said...

I have given you an Arte Y Pico award. See my site for details.

Dusty said...

It's not only an outrage its criminal in my book. When I read about this a couple of years ago I wept.

And it takes a lot to make this bitch weep.

dguzman said...

DCup--And yet they go blithely on, completely unaffected by what they've wrought. That's what I don't get. If there's such a thing as karma, then where the hell is it?

Fran--Right there with you.

Diva Jood--perfect analogy! We can only hope the outcome is the same.

Randal--oh me neither--but imagine what would happen if someone looted and burned the National Archives and the Smithsonian. People would fucking DEMAND action. Yet the same people just don't give a shit, as if that stuff is just crap. Hello--modern Iraq is where these so-called Christians' Garden of Eden was supposed to be located. Yet none of them gives a shit.

Karen--I think anything that doesn't have to do with getting shitloads of money and power is just irrelevant and unimportant to these assholes. Which tells you all you need to know about them.

Lib--pretty much them in a nutshell.

Dr. Z--it's unforgivable.

DCap--but I love to hear what you're thinking!

Barbara--HA! Glad you liked that one. I admit I stole it from an autobiography of a former Navy SEAL who used "goatfuck" to describe everything except himself.

Diva Jood--thank you! I've complied with the rules over on BTB.

Dusty--exactly, it's enough to make anyone (with a heart) weep.

Spartacus said...

When you consider the Iraqi lives that were lost during this war, the robbing and looting of their antiquities is akin to spitting on their graves.