Palmyra

All I can do here is mark the attempt to destroy temples at Palmyra, and remember how others burnt the library at Alexandria and destroyed the Buddhist library and university at Lalanda, in the 13th century AD. Lalanda it seems was lost almost through inadvertence, simply not understanding what you destroy. Did the Turks mean to destroy Smyrna so totally in 1922?

Destroying Palmyra is about the destruction of heritage and culture, at the highest level that makes us human. And it’s intentional destruction. That’s what sets it apart. Brute invaders wantonly destroying had little understanding of what they destroyed, Here we have something different: history seen as a perversion and a visible sign of a debased humanity. Calculated and willed destruction. Whereas we see Palmyra as its highest expression.

There’s an Islamic notion of paradise intertwined with all this destruction. IS would do well to read Dante, and the different levels of hell he matched to the levels of the misdeeds of their earthbound perpetrators. Or to reflect of the notion of karma, reaping what you sow.

But we are of course In a different world, where different and crueler criteria apply.

I have no solutions, and I’m not writing this in anger, though I have felt fury. I’m writing this simply to mark the threat to Palmyra and to record my own sense of how much it matters.

In a country of so much human suffering should we care, and does it matter? And, yes, of course, it does.

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