Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Daniel Pipes points the finger at who is really to blame for the looting of Baghdad's museum.

WHO'S to blame for the destruction of Iraqi museums, libraries and archives, amounting to what The New York Times calls "one of the greatest cultural disasters in recent Middle Eastern history"?
The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. They proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

* Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.

* Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.

* Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258.

These academics overlook one tiny detail, however: It was Iraqis who looted and burned, and they did so against the coalition's wishes. Blaming Americans for Iraqi crimes is deeply patronizing, equating Iraqis with children not responsible for their actions.

The academics also overlook another fact: the extreme rarity of such cultural self-destruction.

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