“The fact is that we have no idea what would have become of the world’s ‘looted’ antiquities if they hadn’t been preserved in Western collections. Would the treasures of Beijing’s Summer palace have survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution? Would the Elgin marbles have survived Turkish tour guides chopping off chunks to sell as souvenirs? Would Daesh [ISIS] have spared those Middle Eastern artefacts that survive in European museums?” — Zareer Masani, historian.
When Christians in Iraq were exiled, murdered or persecuted en masse by the so-called Islamic State, the West stood silent — as if these Christians were the agents of Western colonialism and not the legitimate and oldest inhabitants of the Middle East, long before the Arabs converted to Islam.
When a mob destroyed the French Institute in Cairo, burning books and collections, those who now want to return the “colonial artifacts” stood silent. Where are our Monuments Men now?
A “sense of guilt” for colonialism is debasing the West from within, according to Professor Bruce Gilley, and authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey are profiting from this weakness.
The Romans called it damnatio memoriae: the damnation of memory that resulted in destroying the portraits and even the names of the fallen emperors. The same process is now underway in the West about its colonial past. The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.
A sense of guilt now seems a kind of post-Christian substitute religion that seduces many Westerners. The French scholar Shmuel Trigano suggested that this ideology is turning the Westerners into “post-colonial subjects” who no longer believe in their own civilization, but instead what will destroy it: multiculturalism. In France, for example, a manifesto was launched for “a multicultural and post racial republic”. The result would be, in the words of the anthropologist Jean-Loup Amselle, a “war of identities” and a clash between communities. Last month, the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that, if elected Prime Minister, he would order the British Museum to return to Greece the Elgin Marbles, the frieze that had surrounded the Parthenon of Athens and one of the major attractions of the British Museum. “This whole campaign is sheer lunacy,” wrote Richard Dorment. But it is a lunacy spreading all over Europe.
Pictured: Figures from the East Pediment of the Parthenon, exhibited as part of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. (Image source: Andrew Dunn/Wikimedia Commons)
French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he wants to change the rules that make French public collections untouchable, and allow the return to Africa of dozens of historical artifacts now in the Louvre Museum. Macron has appointed two commissioners, the writer Senegalese Felwine Sarr and the art expert Bénédicte Savoy, to prepare a report.
Tanzania is asking for the return of the famous skeleton of a prehistoric Brachiosaurus, the main attraction of Natural History Museum of Berlin. New guidelines guide on restitution of “colonial objects” were recently unveiled by Germany’s Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters.
Most historians are now taking the side of the campaign for returning these objects. One is David Olusoga, a historian of Nigerian origins, who has claimed that these colonial artifacts were “thefts” committed by the colonial powers at the time. Writing in The Telegraph, Zareer Masani, a historian of Indian origins, took a different position. It was the colonialists, he said, who had a decisive role in preserving the antiquities of the civilization:
“It was their dedication, often at huge personal sacrifice, that unlocked the wonders of many lost classical civilisations… The fact is that we have no idea what would have become of the world’s ‘looted’ antiquities if they hadn’t been preserved in Western collections. Would the treasures of Beijing’s Summer palace have survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution? Would the Elgin marbles have survived Turkish tour guides chopping off chunks to sell as souvenirs? Would Daesh [ISIS] have spared those Middle Eastern artefacts that survive in European museums?”.
In 1969, the BBC aired Kenneth Clark’s “Civilization”, the series exploring Western art and culture. Then, civilization was something to be glorified. In 2018, the BBC aired the remake of Clark’s classic, “Civilizations” — note the plural. “This year, the 21st century version of the landmark show is to turn a critical eye to the history of British civilisation, questioning whether it is built on ‘looting and plunder’ and who, really, are the barbarians,” writes Hannah Furness in The Telegraph. One of the new presenters is David Olusoga, the historian who called the Elgin Marbles “a very clear case of theft”.
Thirty years ago, in a book, The Tears of the White Man, the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner wrote that, “the remorseless and self-righteous critic who endlessly denounces the deceptions of parliamentary democracy is suddenly rapt with admiration before the atrocities committed in the name of the Koran, the Vedas, the Great Helmsman…” Since then, Western elites have excused many crimes committed in the name of political Islam, as if these were the consequences of our own colonial crimes.
When Christians in Iraq were exiled, murdered or persecuted en masse by the so-called Islamic State, the West stood silent — as if these Christians were the agents of the Western colonialism and not the legitimate and oldest inhabitants of the Middle East long before the Arabs converted to Islam. When a mob destroyed the French Institute in Cairo, burning books and collections, those who now want to return the “colonial artifacts” stood silent. When Iran’s President Rouhani visited Rome, the Italian authorities covered the naked statues in the Capitoline Museums. Are we covering our own culture to please the Islamic world?
Unfortunately, what we are “returning” are not only the colonial artifacts, but our very pride in Western civilization. A new “damnation of the memory” is taking place in our own museums, academia and chattering classes — and it has deep consequences for our ability to deal with the enemies of civilization. “Postcolonial material provides an important fuel for jihadism,” stated France’s most important scholar of Islamism, Gilles Kepel.
“The Monuments Men”, a film made in 2014 by George Clooney, is about a group of Western curators and art experts who traveled to Europe to rescue the artistic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. It was a story of Western bravery and moral clarity during the Second World War. In 2015, ISIS destroyed Palmyra, one of the most important cities of the ancient world. But the West watched this cultural destruction passively and no “Monuments Men” were dispatched to save Palmyra and other threatened sites. The Russians, profiting from the Western passivity, entered Palmyra and Russia’s most famous conductor, Valery Gergiev, on performing a triumphal concert in the Palmyra arena, said: “We protest against barbarians who destroyed wonderful monuments of world culture”. The Westerners then recreated a banal copy of the arch of Palmyra in London.
Where are our Monuments Men now?
first published at www.gatestoneinstitute.org
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
Pope Francis warned on Monday against a resurgence of nationalist and populist movements and criticized countries that try to solve the migration crisis with unilateral or isolationist actions.
The pope, speaking to diplomats in an annual speech known informally as his “state of the world” address, suggested such movements and closed-door policies were turning the clock back 100 years to the dangerous period between the world wars.
A Montreal man facing hate crimes charges has been ordered to stay away from Jewish institutions as a condition of his bail.
The Canadian Press reported that Robert Gosselin, 55, has been charged with two counts of issuing violent threats and one count of inciting hatred over messages he is suspected of having posted on the Facebook page of Le Journal de Montreal newspaper.
The year 2018 has provided a series of reminders that antisemitism, the world’s oldest hatred, is alive and well in our country.
Reprinted from JPost.com.
In October, 11 Jews were massacred in Pittsburgh as they prayed on the Sabbath. It is just the latest in a series of violent attacks that have targeted the Jewish community in recent times, which come not only from the radical right but also from the radical left, and from radical Muslims.
The enemies of the Jewish people don’t only physically attack us from the outside. They have also long worked to divide the Jewish people by turning our own against us. For example, a number of Jewish individuals and organizations have become leaders within the BDS movement, which seeks to destroy the Jewish state.
The battle between the Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration continues over the construction of a border wall along the U.S./Mexican border.
Many political battles are fought over hypothetical arguments. This debate, however, is well-grounded in cold, hard, irrefutable facts and in the deaths of far too many innocent people, who have fallen victim to aliens who entered the United States illegally, often repeatedly.
Let me be clear, in my judgement, the Democrats have left the administration with no choice but to take the action of shutting down a part of the government. As a former INS agent I can certainly empathize with the federal employees. All too frequently the employees of the government suffer from the bad decisions of our political leaders. However, America faces many threats and challenges that are the direct result of multiple failures of the immigration system and our nation must finally address these failures beginning with securing our borders.
Behind the Left’s war on Jewish schools.
In 2016, a poll showed Trump beating Hillary Clinton 66% to 22% among Orthodox Jews. This wasn’t as unusual as it sounds. In New York City, Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods light up as islands in a lefty sea.
Traditional religious beliefs are associated with conservative politics among Jews the same way that they are among Christians. 60% of Jews who attended weekly religious services disapproved of Obama while those who didn’t, mostly supported him. Why do American Jews lean much more to the left? Because only 11% of American Jews attend weekly synagogue services. Well below the 40% national average.
Only 34% of American Jews are certain that they believe in G-d. What do they believe in? When asked what it means to be Jewish, 56% mentioned social justice, 42% comedy and only 19% percent mentioned anything involving religion. Meanwhile 63% of Israeli Jews believe “completely” in G-d.
Israel’s “Young Turks” have created a new political party, and this week received an important new ally.
Caroline Glick, a long-time writer for the Jerusalem Post (and, of late, Breitbart), is running for a Knesset seat for the new Hayemin Hehadash (The New Right) Party. The party was founded by rising stars Naftali Bennett, Education Minister, and Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s Justice Minister. For what it’s worth, they are the new breed; both look like they could carry lead roles in a James Bond movie.
When Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat was photographed several days ago cheerfully stepping on an image of the Israeli flag at a trade union complex in Amman, she sent a clear and unmistakable message of hostility and contempt for the Jewish state.
In doing so, Ghunaimat was adding insole to injury, providing a stark glimpse of the rising tide of hatred and invective that has been swelling across the border in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The United States of America (1787-2018) came to a swift and sudden end last week as the government shut down. The nation which had survived Pearl Harbor, the War of 1812 and Jimmy Carter ceased to exist.
The savage population, which had only been kept in line through a policy of rigorous gun confiscations, food stamps and lectures on the environment unleashed its pent up rage in a spree of riots, looting and mass murder that had only previously been encountered in Somalia, Russia and a Walmart in downtown Atlanta.
US President Donald Trump appeared to slow down his decision to withdraw from Syria after meetings on December 30. This came just ten days after he had abruptly decided to leave Syria. Trump apparently made the decision on December 14 in a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He told National Security Advisor John Bolton to prepare the process. For five days nothing changed until Trump began to Tweet about the decision.
“I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds.” – Bhagavad Gita, cited by American nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945
Quite literally, at any moment in 2019, US President Donald Trump could be faced with unprecedented challenges to American security. The most plainly serious threats will concern some forms or other of nuclear strategy and nuclear war. “Will he be ready?” – we must immediately inquire – “for any such conspicuously daunting challenges?”