There's a lot of ruins In Mesopotamia

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Donny George, president of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq, has thrown in the towel, citing lack of money, interference from our Shiite beneficiaries, and a level of violence in Baghdad that drove him to close the National Museum and encase it in concrete walls:

Dr George says that, having worked for the SBAH for over 30 years, he retired on 7 August because his position had become "intolerable" over the past year. "The board has come under the increasing influence of al-Sadr [the militant Shi'ite party founded by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which has 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament and controls a number of ministries]," says Dr George. "I can no longer work with these people who have come in with the new ministry. They have no knowledge of archaeology, no knowledge of antiquities, nothing."

Dr George, who is a Christian, says that in the past year an increasingly Islamist and anti-western agenda over which he had little control had permeated the activities of the SBAH. "A lot of people have been sent to our institutions," he says. "They are only interested in Islamic sites and not Iraq's earlier heritage." According to Dr George, the new President of the SBAH is Haider Farhan, an al-Sadr party member with no relevant experience for the post. "There is nothing to recommend him," says Dr George.

The "For Dummies" version of Islam suggests that Shiism is more historically oriented and less focused on the timelessness of the word of God than Sunnism, so there may be some hope that the Sadrists' anti-intellectualism won't lead to the kind of violence against pre-Islamic culture we've seen in other places. But in the Middle East, you always have to be bullish on the potential for things to get worse…

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  1. What a sick religion these Islamofascists have.

  2. What a sick religion these Islamofascists have.

    Yup.

    “A pie made of dormice and syrup of poppies! Lord in heaven! what beastly fellows those Romans were!” ~ Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751)

  3. Could be worse, Patriot: remember when the Islamists overran the library of Alexandria, murdered its professional scholars and set fire to the entire library, destroying the repository of the ancient world’s knowledge because they said it was blasphemous and an affront to God?

    No, wait, it was the Christians who burned the library and murdered Hypatia. Goddammit, isn’t there even one religion vile enough so that it, rather than human nature, can be blamed for the evil in the world?

  4. Goddammit, isn’t there even one religion vile enough so that it, rather than human nature, can be blamed for the evil in the world?

    Jennifer…

    Nope.

  5. Well, Akira, you’d sure as hell never know that from some of the commentary these wise Americans make. “Let’s kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity!” Fuck yeah! Because you know the only possible reason these people are doing evil things is because they say “Allah” rather than “Jesus” when they pray.

  6. ?? ???? ?????? ???????? ???? ??? ???? ???????.?? – ????? ???? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ??????? ????????? ???? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ??????? ????.

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  7. The way that the library of Alexandria was destroyed is not well known, nor was Hypatia the librarian.

  8. isn’t there even one religion vile enough so that it, rather than human nature, can be blamed for the evil in the world?

    Even one? Why not blame religion itself? Now that’d be a perfectly good hypothesis, if it weren’t for the goddamned communists.

    Now I really hates em.

  9. Um, maybe I missed something, but I’m pretty sure the blame was put on “islamofascists” (a crappy word) or “islamists”, and not Islam in general. While I agree that no one has a monopoly on vileness throughout history, I would hope that we could say that there’s a big difference between a group of individuals that saws people’s heads off and idiot columnists from the U.S.

  10. I’ve said it before all religions are ridiculous and their follows more than a little sad. Islam, as many religious scholars(academics) say, has little wiggle room for interpretation hence the constant push for a return to the 7th century. There is a big difference between christianity today and Islam. Christianity survived the enlightenment. Although it seems as thought the nut jobs in American christianity(Falwell, Robertson) seem determined to follow suit.

    “Let’s kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity!”
    At least at this point it’s all talk- over in the Middle East, Indonesia, etc. it’s reality.

  11. Christianity and Judaism, unlike Islam, have gone through the Enlightenment. They were both just as vile is Islamism before that time period.

  12. INA, How did you get an erector set hooked to your computer?

  13. Peoples and societies “have gone through the enlightenment,” not religions.

    The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda has clearly not gone through the Enlightnement, while millions of Muslims in American and England quite plainly have.

    Tell me that Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan haven’t experienced the enlightenment, you might have a point. But trying to break it down by religion like that is waaaaaayyyy too easily disproven.

  14. Amazingly, according to Google Translate, that Arabic-language comment was actually on-topic. I wouldn’t venture to categorize the argument, because the translation left a great deal to be desired.

  15. that’s good, I was fairly sure that patriot had a fatwa put on him.

  16. “while millions of Muslims in American and England quite plainly have.”

    But that wouldn’t incluse all those who think it would be fine to kill all the Jews, now would it? It wouldn’t incluse all those who cheer the suicide bombers or danced in the streets after 9-11 and 3-11 and 7-7, would it? Nah, didn’t think so.

  17. Ken,

    Nor would it include the Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and wife-beating bearded fundies throughout our red states.

    But only a bigot would attempt to defame a large, civilized body of people because of a tiny fringe.

  18. Are you sure it wouldn’t incluse them, Joe? Don’t precluse the possibility that they should be exclused.

  19. If anybody’s interested, INA is indeed on topic, but as far as I can tell this is the longest blind item in the history of gossip. It starts out asking “Who steals Iraqi antiquities and now abandons scientists?” then goes into a whole lot of detail about the local political situation, but never seems to answer the original question. But as noted above, the translation leaves much to be desired, so it’s possible the answer got garbled in transmission. Read the whole thing for yourself.

  20. Was it a tiny fringe of Palestinians than elected Hammas? No, they were elected by something like a 75% majority.

  21. “Are you sure it wouldn’t incluse them, Joe? Don’t precluse the possibility that they should be exclused.”

    Wait, I’m confused…

  22. You won’t be confuled if you re-read Ken’s statement, joe.

  23. We’re talking about American Muslims, Patriot.

    I guess we know what you see when you look at the guy at the gas station.

  24. Joe, I have no trouble with assimilated Muslims. I thought we were talking about Iraq.

  25. Patriot,

    You changed the subject from “Islamofascists” in Iraq to Muslims in general, and their religion, a long ways back. I was responding to your assertion that the behavior of Muslim terrorists and dictators can be explained by their religion.

  26. Its not soley determined by their religion, but I believe it plays a large factor. Becuase most Islamis societies have never had an englightenment, and most (yes not all) Christian and Jewish socities have, it leaves their religion much more open to a barbaric and violent interpretation.

  27. Ken writes: “But that wouldn’t incluse all those who think it would be fine to kill all the Jews, now would it?”

    I’m pretty sure the moustachioed Austrian feller who shall not be named was a post-Enlightenment kinda guy. Not exactly a shining exemplar of Enlightenment thought, but then neither were the French Revolution and the Terror.

    Patriot writes:”They were both just as vile is Islamism before that time period.”

    Now, to be fair, Christians could be pretty freaking awful, even in ‘civilized’ countries, until the past century or so. And even some Jews stooped to using terror until they got their country from the local colonial power.

    It’s useful to keep in mind that ‘we’ are not *that* far ahead of the Muslims. It’s not 600 years, it’s more like 140.

  28. Patriot,

    I understand, but the key is to distinguish between “Islam” or “Christianity” or “Judaism” and “Islamic/Christian/Jewish societies.”

    There are Christian societies that seem wholly untouched by the Enlightenment, and there are Muslims societies, such as Muslim-Americans, that clearly have been. This is because societies have or have not caught up with the enlightenment, not because any religion is or is not a post-Enlightnement religion.

    And that’s before we even get into the pre-Enlightenment or anti-Enlightenment movements that have existed in apparently post-Englightenment societies. Naziism, or example. Or, closer to home, reading about the behavior and thinking of the Puritans in colonial New England will give you nightmares.

  29. “But only a bigot would attempt to defame a large, civilized body of people because of a tiny fringe.”

    A “tiny finge”? Would that include those that went on murdering, burning rampages over some cartoons? Even the so-called “moderate Muslims” beleive in killing apostates and blasphemers – by a large margin. You can call that civilized if you like but I won’t. Of couse many were burned as witches by Christians. They’ve mostly gotten over that. Religion is the source of much pain and death in the world.

    Islam requires that you submit or die – theres’s no third choice.

    The USA may survive but Europe is doomed. The Franks have no Martel and the Gates of Vienna are no more.

  30. “and wife-beating bearded fundies throughout our red states”

    But then at least they don’t have a tradition of honor killings. And what’s the deal with Mohammed and little girls? Isn’t 6 a little young for a wife, especially when you are 53? Maybe he is a redneck at heart? His people are certainly in agreement with the Nazis (old-school and neo) on many points.

    PS. The Muslim gangs in Dafur must be reading right out of the KKK playbook.

  31. INA, We almost have this worked out. Just a few more post and it all should be clear. Then you too will be enlightned.

  32. We are all in this together, including the 40% of the minority population in England that says it is all right to carry out suicide bombing operations against Jews. We need to digest that information. But Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide; it was Liberalism that invited all those of alien cultures to live in every western nation, and said that it is OK for Muslim countries to have laws excluding Jews and Christians, but we cannot exclude anyone for any reason, even if they are here illegally. Interesting. But isn’t that fair? Don’t we feel better about ourselves for having been so fair and open? It’s the land of the free and we will welcome those who want to end that.

    I hope it is consolation for all those who are trying to go about their business and standing in 9 hour lines to get on airplanes without a water bottle or a book or a magazine. We should all feel good about how generous we are. The consolation is about all we will get for doing all this.

    But we have diversity, and that’s really neat, and we all ought to be proud.

    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/view426.html

  33. “wife-beating bearded fundies” you say?

    As Ahmed Al-bakar (spelling unclear), an MP from the one of the more progressive Muslim nations, Kuwait, recently put it, mixing the proposal to give women the right to vote, ‘God said in the Holy Koran that men are better than women…why can’t we settle for that?’ Why indeed. Well here’s a story from the Associate Press in Multan, Pakistan. Nazeer Ahmed appears calm and unrepentant as he recounts how he slit the throats of his three young daughters and their 25 year-old step-sister to salvage his family’s honour. Well, you know, I suppose to a lot of us, Pakistan’s a crazy place a long way away. But the honour killings, the murder of Muslim women, punished often for no other reason than that they happened to have been raped by some fella, the honour killings are getting closer. In London last summer, the Metropolitan police announced they were reopening investigations into 120 deaths among British Muslim girls that they’d hitherto declined to look at too closely on grounds of cultural sensitivity.

    http://newsisyphus.blogspot.com/2006/08/steyn-speaks.html

  34. Ken, Im not sure what the difference between “honor killings” and run of the mill domestic abuse is. I think the only real difference is, in the west the husband kills the woman for cheating on him (or vice versa), while in Muslims countries or families, the father kills the daughter for sleeping around.

    Its sort of the same dynamic.

  35. Ken,

    What Muslim-Americans went on murdering and burning rampages over cartoons? Name one. Name. One.

    “Islam requires that you submit or die – theres’s no third choice.” And Judaism requires that adulterers be stoned to death. And yet millions of Muslims and millions of Jews manage to live peacefully among nonbelievers and cheating neighbors in towns across America without blood running through the streets. You simply cannot look at the thousand-year-old sacred writings of a religion and expect it to explain the behavior of that religion’s adherents today.

    You know this about Jews, Ken, but you are determined not to know it about Muslims. Instead, you’d rather paint the entirely of the group as being incapable of rising above its worse elements. Because that’s how you think, in groups. The Christians (or Judeo-Christians in your more generous moments) vs. the Muslims, and screw all the specifics about individuals and different communities. It’s us versus them, and you can see when you look at an adherent of that religion is that he’s one of them.

    Yes, I am very proud that most of the people in my society don’t think like you.

  36. A certain portion of Muslims favor killing Jews, and a certain portion of Jews believe that killing Arabs is all right, because, as one of Israel’s former foreign ambassadors, David Hacohen said, “But they are not human beings, they are not people, they are Arabs”.”

    If anyone says that about blacks or Jews, they are toast.

    There are schools in Israel where the students are taught to chant, “Death to Arabs.”, so there is plenty of extremism to go around on both sides.

    The main thing is, the U.S. does not have any sort of ethical or moral obligation to defend Israel.

    In the long run, Jews and Arabs will have a better chance at personal safety if Israel as a Jewish Theocracy is dissolved, and the nation is reformed along U.S. lines. The first step would be a joint police force made up of both Jews and Arabs, equal political footing, property rights, etc.

  37. No wonder Neoplatonist neocons are on the warpath- the Koran thumpng classes want that Pagan creep Aristotles’ guts for garters .

    On the other hand, they aren’t stuck with any anti- Democritan anti-atomism baggage , which makes atomic research Metaphysically Correct in Teheran.

    QED we’re all gonna die.

  38. There’s a lot of ruins In Mesopotamia

    One of my fave B52’s tunes.

    Tim,

    What a fine and multifaceted scholar you are to be able to translate that Arabic for us…Oh, it was done via a translation program? So you’re only slightly less multifaceted.

  39. There are schools in Israel where the students are taught to chant, “Death to Arabs.”, so there is plenty of extremism to go around on both sides.

    Have you got a source for this? Something not published my fundamentalists?

  40. Or, “not published BY fundamentalists,” even!

  41. I can no longer work with these people who have come in with the new ministry. They have no knowledge of archaeology, no knowledge of antiquities, nothing.”

    Courtesy of the US taxpayer.

    …so there may be some hope that the Sadrists’ anti-intellectualism won’t lead to the kind of violence against pre-Islamic culture we’ve seen in other places.

    “Pre-Islamic”? The history of civilization in Iraq goes back a heck of a long time before the advent of Islam-All the way back to the inventors of written language, the Sumerians, and they weren’t even Semitic, let alone Arabic. Don’t anyone tell these fundy idiots.

  42. Joe

    “reading about the behavior and thinking of the Puritans in colonial New England will give you nightmares”

    The scary part is that the New England Puritans were relatively tolerant for their time. In “tolerant” England, Percy Shelley almost went to prison in the early 1800’s for writing “On the Necessity of Atheism” – he got off only by recanting.

    My American Lit Prof brought to my attention an early battle between the Establishment Puritan scholar Cotton Mather and the young radical Benjamin Franklin in the first decade of the 1700s over the issue of smallpox vaccination. Mather supported vaccination (despite the death of his own son due to a bad reaction) while Franklin opposed it.

    The Puritans were not uneducated nor opposed to enjoyment of earthly pleasures, despite the bad press they got in later years.

  43. Joe,
    A macro view would seem to indicate that that Islamist culture has yet to be reformed. There are plenty of reformed people who believe in Islam but they are still the exception.

    The opposite is true of Christian and Jewish societies. They still have plenty of nuts but they are the exception but not the rule.

    If you look at Christian and Jewish societies all are reasonably moderate with fringe elements. Most Islamic cultures are the opposite of this.

    The geologic clock says we have a few hundred years before this changes and all the more reason why should not get anywhere near Islamaland.

  44. Shcempg, thank you for clarifying what I have been trying to say all day..

  45. The opposite is true of Christian and Jewish societies. They still have plenty of nuts but they are the exception but not the rule

    Yeah, if you only look at North America and Europe. If you expand your vision to include Africa, Central and South America, things are a little different.

  46. aspendougy, you were asked for sources. Or can we safely write you off as a shrill anti-Israel sycophant now?

  47. Shempg,

    Your “macro” view of the world lumps together many unlike things.

    I see no reason to draw any conclusion whatsoever about an American who has Hutu ancestry because of the actions of his distant, or not so distant, cousins in the mother country. And I see no reason to do the same for Americans of Arab or Farsi descent.

    As I said before, I’m open to the idea that there are cultures in the Muslim world that are pre-modern in their ideas about human rights, sexual equality, and the like. But at the same time, there are also Muslim societies in places like Turkey, Bangladesh, and North America in which modern, republican ideals are clearly dominant. The fact that other Muslim cultures do not demonstrate these ideals does not reduce the modernity of those who do one whit.

    Since these modern Muslim cultures manage to grow and thrive without losing their Islamic identity, I can only conclude that the assertion that Islam itself is uniquely incompatible with modernity is false.

  48. What a sick religion these Islamofascists have.
    All religions are sick, but, of the popular religions Islam is the sickest, and demonstrably incompatible with anything worth calling “civilization.”

  49. I think the incompatibility of Islam with civilization is best demonstrated by the salvation of the works of Aristotle by government-backed Muslim scholars, during the period that Christians were burning heathen books and scratching lice in their mud huts.

  50. Joe,

    Good point, so what happened?

  51. joe,

    Yeah, good call. Arabs re-introduced many of the treaures of ancient Greece to the west. But “government-backed”? Can you cite a source for that.?

  52. Rick,

    I thought Aquinas did the re-introducing? I don’t think the west was so open to listening to the Arabs at that time.

  53. I think the incompatibility of Islam with civilization is best demonstrated by the salvation of the works of Aristotle by government-backed Muslim scholars, during the period that Christians were burning heathen books and scratching lice in their mud huts.

    Of course, the only reason Muslims had access to the works of the ancient world was because they waged a brutal war of conquest against the civilized, Christian nations of the Middle East and North Africa. That’s why Christianity was increasingly reduced to then-primitive Northern Europeans.

    It’s not exactly controversial to highlight the relationship between certain Christian attitudes, especially the separation between church and state, and the Enlightenment that produced the modern world. And to note that Islam contains virtually none of those features and is prominent primarily in culturally backward, tribal/clan-based nations.

  54. Separation of church and stats is a “Christian” position? That’s funny, I thought it was a “republican” position – one developed for the purpose of opposing the Christian position known as the divine right of kings.

    “Islam contains virtually none of those features” Christianity doesn’t contain any of those positions, either. Slaves, obey your masters. Women, cover your hair lest the angels see you and are tempted by your beauty.

    No religion contains the democratic, republican ideals of the Enlightenment – they are secular ideals belonging to a wholly differenent sphere than religion. Not antireligious, but areligious.

    “is prominent primarily in culturally backward, tribal/clan-based nations” Christianity was once prominent primarily in culturally backward, tribal/clan based – well, I wouldn’t call them nations. Feudal territories, more like. So? It is alos prominent in progressive, modern nation-states, and exists peacefully in multicultural nations like the US and Canada.

    You could just as well note the correlation between skin tone and political/cultural development in African nations. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, either.

  55. “Of course, the only reason Muslims had access to the works of the ancient world was because they waged a brutal war of conquest against the civilized, Christian nations of the Middle East and North Africa.”

    I love this argument. When western civilization advances because of military superiority, that just shows the superiority of our culture to the less-advanced Other. When an eastern civilization advances in precisely the same way, that just shows the superiority of our culture to the brutal, militatistic Other.

    You really want to hang your hat on the proposition that Christian peoples were less warlike than Muslim peoples during the period after the fall of Rome? Really?

  56. Separation of church and stats is a “Christian” position? That’s funny, I thought it was a “republican” position – one developed for the purpose of opposing the Christian position known as the divine right of kings.

    Yes, it is. Church and state are clearly separate institutions in western Christianity and were largely so even during the Middle Ages. This was done out of necessity, since the Roman government predated the Christian faith and was largely hostile to it during the early centuries. The “divine right” of kings claptrap was largely a position taken to assert secular authority in opposition to the Pope. Good luck finding anything similar in Islamic history. The Caliph is king and pope in one.

    No religion contains the democratic, republican ideals of the Enlightenment – they are secular ideals belonging to a wholly differenent sphere than religion. Not antireligious, but areligious.

    The Enlightenment has its roots in the intellectual ferment surrounding the Reformation. Heck Joe, I’m an atheist and I can readily admit that the intellectual developments of Christianity paved the way for the modern world. You don’t need to actually believe in the religion to understand its intellectual importance. Islam, starting from a primitive culture as it did, barely and grudgingly preserved the cultures of the places it conquered and added little or nothing in over a millenium.

    When an eastern civilization advances in precisely the same way, that just shows the superiority of our culture to the brutal, militatistic Other.

    Congratulations, you neatly changed the subject and mischaracterized my statement. No one seriously argues that the nomadic Bedouin Arabs were more culturally advanced than the residents of the eastern portions of the Byzantine Empire. In fact, written Arabic was in its infancy when the Islamic invasion occurred. Basically, the Caliphs united the Arabs and sent their horsemen outward against the world for the first time in recorded history. They were quite effective, no doubt, and I’m sure some of that had to do with their zealously religious nature. It had little to do with the state of their culture.

    You really want to hang your hat on the proposition that Christian peoples were less warlike than Muslim peoples during the period after the fall of Rome? Really?

    If you are talking about Syrians and Egyptians vs. Bedouin proto-Muslims, then yes. Bedouin tribes were in a constant state of war with each other, whereas the Byzantine overlords certainly did not permit such a state of affairs in their eastern provinces.

  57. kohlrabi,

    It sounds interesting about Aquinas. Perhaps he utilized material brought by Arabs.

    I think that it’s pretty well established that Arabs re-introduced many of the treasures of ancient Greece to the west.

    I think it might of been their exposure to the certain Greek antiquities that led them to do work in astronomy. The Arab legacy in astronomy lives on in Arabic names for stars as well as Arabic words for celestial terminology such as “nadir” (lowest point) and “zenith” (highest point)-I think that the latter is an Arabic word.

    I wonder if Persians (now Iranians) re-introduced antiquities as well.

    Did the Arabs re-introduce Roman as well as Greek antiquities?

  58. ChrisO:

    Of course, the only reason Muslims had access to the works of the ancient world was because they waged a brutal war of conquest against the civilized, Christian nations of the Middle East and North Africa.

    The only reason? Could you please link to some evidence that it was even a big reason?

  59. http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1211

    ?The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent is the ideal of the Muslim State. If any infidel is suffered to exist in the community, it is as a necessary evil, and for a transitional period only. Political and social disabilities must be imposed on him, and bribes offered to him from the public funds, to hasten the day of his spiritual enlightenment and the addition of his name to the roll of true believers.? ?A non-Muslim therefore cannot be a citizen of the State; he is a member of a depressed class; his status is a modified form of slavery. He lives under a contract (zimma, or ?dhimma?) with the State: for the life and property grudgingly spared to him by the commander of the faithful he must undergo political and social disabilities, and pay a commutation money. In short, his continued existence in the State after the conquest of his country by the Muslims is conditional upon his person and property made subservient to the cause of Islam.?

  60. Rick,

    “Perhaps he utilized material brought by Arabs.”

    That’s exactly right. He was responsible for for looking at what the Arabs did at face value and not immediately dismissing it, as was the custom for the Church’s scholars at the time. He then presented it to the Church in such a way that they would actually listen.

    The arabs did the legwork rediscovering it, but it was Aquinas, through the church, that really re-introduced it.

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