FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hang Black Banners from the World’s Libraries and Museums

Deeply embedded in an article entitled “Iraqi elite pledge free nation,” the San Francisco Chronicle (April 16) allotted two brief paragraphs to the burning of Baghdad’s National Library and Koranic library. The article quotes Abdel Karim Answar Obeid, whom it identifies as “an administrator at the religious ministry, where thousands of Korans–many hand-written and some thousands of years old–were lost,” as saying that books which survived the 1252 sacking of Baghdad did not make it through the early days of the U.S. occupation of 2003: “If you talk to any intellectual Muslims in the world,” says Obeid “they are cyring right now over this.”

More than Muslims, of course, are crying at the scale and significance of destruction permitted within the past week by soldiers who, according to reporter Robert Fisk, stood aside while the libraries burned. But the editorial board of the Chronicle apparently considered the ruin of those undefended libraries just days following the looting of the National Museum too unimportant to merit an article or photograph of its own, and I suspect that the same is true elsewhere. If this could happen in Baghdad, then the pillaging of Mesopotamia’s archaeological sites is probably proceeding as I write–just as international archaeologists warned prior to the outbreak of war.

Like the social, economic, and long-term environmental costs of this war, the cultural loss is buried by prevailing triumphalism in U.S. mass media, as well as by Donald Rumsfeld’s assurance that the near total trashing of Iraq’s cultural resources was an unfortunate accident and a regrettable “untidiness.” And like the recent oil spill off the Spanish coast, I expect that even what has been reported will fade quickly from public consciousness as we in the U.S. move on to the next new thing. For those of us who use scholarly reseources, the loss is forever.

I would like to call on museums, archives, and libraries everywhere to hang black banners or bunting of mourning for a month from their buildings to remind the public of what has been forever and needlessly destroyed and to express the grief that we feel not only for those weeping Muslims but for our species. This is the very least that we can do to commemorate this exceptionally dark week in our common humanity.

Dr. GRAY BRECHIN is a Research Associate in the Department of Geography at U.C. Berkeley. He is the author of the acclaimed social and environmental history of San Francisco: Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin.

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail