Daryl Ilbury

Posts Tagged ‘Palmyra’

Why the destruction of Palmyra is a good thing

In Eish!, Fools on September 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm

UNITAR-UNOSAT imagery shows the Temple of Bel seen on August 27 (top) and rubble seen at the temple's location on August 31 (below) [AFP]

UNITAR-UNOSAT imagery shows (top) the Temple of Bel seen on August 27 and (below) rubble seen at the temple’s location on August 31 [AFP]

OK…it’s not, unless you see the more uncomfortable big picture.

According to the Wall Street Journal, satellite images released Monday by the United Nations confirmed that the main building of the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel in Syria, one of the Middle East’s most important archaeological sites, has been destroyed by ISIS.

[If you’re going get editorially anal about the current name this terrorist organisation calls itself, believe me when I say I don’t give a fuck – I’m certainly not going to agonise over it].

Like many leading titles, the WSJ has been rather breathless (in it’s own way) about the destruction of the temple’s iconic main building; suggesting in no uncertain way it’s a bad thing.

I think otherwise.

Firstly let me underline something in case it’s not already clear: As a freethinker I object to oppressive ideologies dressed up in the guise of ‘religion’, and so I certainly have no sympathy for the cause of religious extremists. Does this mean I’m expected to add to the clamour of objection to ISIS’s destroying of a culturally treasured building?

No, I see it more as an opportunity for us to step in to the arena they have cleared and debate the merits of ideological justification. Sometimes it takes something this unsparing to expose hypocrisy.

According to Hassan Hassan, a Middle East analyst and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” ISIS see what they’re doing as erasing signs and artifacts that represent ideas outside their strict interpretation of Islam. If that is the case then it’s justified – it’s justified through the lens of their ideology.

And there’s the rub – if we condemn them for something their ideology deems right, should we not do the same for other oppressive ideologies that consider their destructive behaviour justified? If someone claims what they do, or what they believe in, is legitimate – irrespective of how it impacts others – because it’s their religion, should we not challenge it?

For example, if a Kentucky state town clerk refuses to issue a marriage licence to a gay couple  because through the lens of her religion to do so would erase the ‘sanctity of marriage’, should we not challenge her?

If a father allows a knife to be taken to his newborn son or preteen daughter, despite their rights not to be violated, because through the lens of his ideology cutting around his child’s genitals is deemed necessary, should we not object?

And yet if we do, they’ll kick up a fuss and claim their beliefs are inviolable; more importantly others will rush to defend them.

And that’s when I smile, because you can’t condemn the destructive beliefs of one religion and claim persecution when someone challenges yours.

And if that makes you uncomfortable, then it’s a good thing.