FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Who’s Looting Whom?

by DAVID VEST

As the privatization of Iraq’s treasures, both cultural and hydrocarbon, gathers momentum, you can almost hear the faint sound of a circle being closed. After all, it was predatory looting, following upon slaughter, that filled most of the world’s great museums in the first place. Houston’s museums are filled with “loot” brought back by seismic teams from “remote” places with petrochemical deposits. That museums important to all of humanity should now be emptied by looters is undeniably tragic and disturbing, but there is also something weirdly fitting about it.

Donald Rumsfeld, snorting with contempt, has complained that TV keeps showing us the same vase being stolen over and over again. You could make that same complaint from a far different angle. We’ve heard all about looting by Iraqis, but there is precious little attention being paid in the media to the looting being done or contemplated by the conquerors. We won’t see much coverage of the “souvenirs” our troops will bring home. No, it is looting by the conquered that offends.

It is at least conceivable that some of the Iraqi looters thought of themselves as preserving pieces of their national heritage from an occupying army that had already been observed lighting cigars in presidential palaces and putting its feet on the furniture.

While the vases may all look alike to Rumsfeld and Bush, who wouldn’t know a Grecian urn from a spittoon, the rich in general do like to spend money on building museums and “collections.” Corporations especially like to exhibit this behavior. They think it marks them as “good corporate citizens.” Only when the “collections” are stolen back from their original plunderers do we refer to them as “loot.”

Actually, what we see happening at the Baghdad museum is merely the reflection of what Bush, Cheney and their cronies have been doing to America’s treasures since the day they took (and I do mean took) office. While the law looks the other way, they have been looting the treasury, plundering the environment and destroying our heritage of civil liberties. The drapery John Ashcroft hung over the statue of justice is eerily similar to the shrouded furniture found in Saddam’s abandoned hang-outs.

In many cases, the Democrats stood by and watched them do it, just as the Marines stood by and watched the looting of Iraqi museums. In stark contrast to the prevailing gutlessness, three members of Bush’s own White House Cultural Property Advisory Committee have resigned to protest the looting of Baghdad’s National Museum of Antiquities.

While American forces allowed Mesopotamian civilization’s past to be ransacked, as though to illustrate Henry Ford’s view that “history is bunk,” other eyes (as if in serene agreement) were on the future.

You do remember the future? Of course you do. So does Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft.

The future, if you are Mr. Allen, was when you were about 14 years old and preferred your hormonal rages to come before you in disguised forms. Vibrating rockets. Gibbous planets. Androgenous robots, supposedly incapable of feeling but somehow inspiring dark white fountains of cosmic gizm wherever they roamed.

When you can no longer imagine a future, when even your beloved Star Trek can do nothing but recycle the same dull Klingon grunting and Ferengi dreck, what is there for you to do but wax nostalgic?

Allen’s nostalgia for the future is inspiring him to build a “museum of science fiction” in Seattle, a gigantic monument to his own adolescence, a visible pledge that, come what may, all memory of the precious future shall not perish from the earth, to be utterly lost and forgotten.

Welcome to America the Collectible, where nostalgia is overcoming us. Hell, you’re soaking in it. While Iraq is being looted of its past, our own country is turning into a theme park we have to pay to visit. Vintage this, vintage that. People are encouraged to miss the good old days, etc. etc., when you could get a real hamburger, blah blah, and they didn’t force you to drink Dietetic Pepsi with it.

We have reached the point where people are even starting to miss Richard Nixon. Nostalgia for Nixon, who could have predicted it? But why not? Compared to Bush, he was the fucking Sun King.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. His scorching new CD, Way Down Here, is now available from CounterPunch.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail