The U.S., on the whole, embraces economic progress and relentless production to such an extent that art and humanities are seen as “nice to have,” rather than necessities.
Sarah Skwire, in a short, smart piece for (of all things) the Foundation for Economic Education, presents ISIS’ heartbreaking destruction of Assyrian museum pieces as a solid argument in favor of the two embattled academic disciplines.
There is a long history of fundamentalist Islamic groups destroying cultural treasures. The Buddhas of Bamiyan. The “end of the world” gate in the ancient city of Timbuktu. Over 95 percent of ancient Mecca. Countless thousands of ancient manuscripts. [Links added by TF.] Groups from ISIS to the Taliban to Wahabist Saudi clerics have made it clear: everything must be obliterated.
They claim, of course, that these things must be destroyed because they are idolatrous in themselves or might inspire idolatrous thinking in others. But I think it is far more likely that ISIS wants them destroyed because these objects prove the falseness of their version of history.