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Who will save the monuments?
BAMIYAN, Afghanistan -- In a huge cavity dug into the side of a cliff, workers search through the rubble to exhume the remains of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan.
At the scene of the crime carried out in 2001 all evidence points to Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind. "This is the terrorism of the Taliban," says Rahim, an official at the work site in front of the empty niche of the biggest of the two statues, one of which stood 55 meters (182 feet) tall and the other 38 meters. - from this news item
The article below was first posted five months ago, but rather than rewrite the thing ab ovo (possibly the ovum struthionis in the Montefeltro altarpiece of Piero della Francesca, identified as such by Millard Meiss), here it is again.
"Who will save the monuments?
The threat to Western art posed by the Islamization of Europe:
Already statues have been vandalized by Muslims in public places, and in churches, in both France and Italy. The destruction of the monuments and artifacts and hence part of the histories of Infidels, that so many Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists in the Middle East, in North Africa, in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, in Central Asia and Hindustan and in southeast Asia know well, now has come to Western Europe. What will happen in Italy, where every street corner in Rome has something that could be damaged by determined Muslims? What will happen to the churches, to the frescoes (including that which Muslims have been taped planning to destroy in Bologna), to the paintings in the Louvre, the Prado, the National Gallery, the Rijksmuseum, the Alte Pinakothek, the Uffizi? Has any organized association of museum curators, or of art scholars, even dared to think of organizing a conference on the protection of art in Europe, and the prohibitions of Islam against sculpture of all kinds, against paintings of living creatures?
Is anyone at all thinking about this, and contacting others? What about Philippe de Montebello or J. Carter Brown or Anne d'Harnoncourt or any other museum directors or retired directors, or any celebrated collectors, or those who already belong to such groups as Save Venice or Save Florence or FAI or Save Art here and there and everywhere? What about those who fund foundations that will pay to rescue Roman mosaics from the rising man-made floods that covered Zeugma, or the Temples near Aswan, but have a new kind of inundation to deal with, the flood-tide of Islam's adherents, who to the extent that they take their Islam seriously, can only threaten Western art, as they once not only threatened, but managed to destroy, so much of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Greco-Bactrian monuments, stupas, manuscripts, temples, artifacts, to erase, or to appropriate as their own, the signs and symbols of anything pre-Islamic or non-Islamic?
This cannot wait. Raising the matter publicly, noisily, so that everyone is made aware of the problem, so that Muslims themselves (the same ones who pretended to be outraged by the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas but in truth helped the Taliban, as those Pakistani and Saudi engineers did, and were secretly pleased at the result) are put on the defensive, and forced either to admit to or to change their ways.
Raising the issue will offend Muslims -- or at least, many will feign indignation. But why? The issue is real. The prohibition is real. Any Muslim can find it in Qaradawi's handy guide to what is halal and what haram. Any Muslim can read what the Egyptian Grand Muft said recently about this. Muslims have been acting on those prohibitions for 1350 years. Now they exist, in large numbers, within the Lands of the Infidels, the Bilad al-kufr. This poses many problems for Infidels, their laws, customs, understandings, political and social institutions, physical security -- and for their artistic heritage, the heritage that, supposedly, belongs to everyone.
Time to bring it all out into the open. Who will be brave enough to discuss it? If not the heads of American or European museums (who, for all I know, are eager to obtain Arab money for some pathetic "Islamic art" wing and as craven in their pursuit of such money, and hence in their willingness to remain silent on all sorts of questions, as college and university presidents whose every statement is cleared with the Development Office, that beating heart of the modern university) then who?
It could be one of those scholars grateful for the training he received, perhaps at the Warburg or at the Courtauld, in the days when that instruction would have been given by some unforgettable, irreplaceable Jewish refugee from another totalitarian belief-system, that which ruled Germany and almost wrecked European civilization.
There is one celebrated art historian whose clashes with the Belle Arti in Italy have been based not on any deliberate damage inflicted, but rather on the unintentional damage that may have been caused by well-intentioned cleaning that may have removed what the artists in question (Michelangelo, Jacopo della Quercia) foresaw, and intended to be, the pleasing effects created by the patina of time on the Sistine Chapel, on the giant statue of Ilaria del Carretto in Lucca.
So perhaps someone will kindly pass on this suggestion to Professor James Beck of Columbia. He would at once grasp the gravity of the problem that large numbers of Islam's adherents, now in Western Europe, pose to our civilization and its artifacts, as the behavior of Muslims who conquered initially through the sword, and completed their dominance through demographic conquest demonstrates.
And as the boys from the Belle Arti, and some Japanese businessmen who were awarded proprietary rights in the Cappella Sistina reproductions have discovered to their own great dismay, nothing and nobody intimidates James Beck."
[Posted at June 14, 2006 09:17 AM]