Sunday, March 08, 2015

Like Ancient Nimrud--Are We Consigned for Rubble Too?

As just about everyone knows, I love history, especially ancient history. In fact, I consider myself a amateur historian. Ancient history tells us so much about ourselves; our origins; what motivated us; how we adapted and survived. It reminds us of our greatness and our weakness. In history too we see great leaps of knowledge, from reading and writing, to the use of the wheel and development of chariots, ways to harness nature such as improved ways to farm or animal husbandry. When reading about an ancient culture, I occasionally wonder who was the first person to come up with some unique idea? Was he a leader or perhaps a warrior? Perhaps some outcast or misfit? Maybe it was a woman who came up with the idea. Certainly they had more "free time" while the guys were out hunting or warring. What provoked the idea? Was it a survival need which had to be met or was it while relaxing and laying around daydreaming? Was it some group brainstorming? Maybe it was something like today. The guy get home after a week to two on the road pillaging and plundering, and the wife says "hey we have to find a way to do this or fix that, here's what I came up with" and the man goes off to tinker with it. He gets some of his pals over for a few beers and between them, they come up with a solution. Maybe it's true that nothing really ever changes.

I think that if I had it to do all over again, I would have been an archeologist, focusing on my two favorite historical epochs,
Mycenaean Greece (think Trojan War and the legendary epics of the "Heroes" like Jason, Achilles, Odysseus and Hercules) and the corresponding early Biblical period (think Moses and the Exodus up to the split between Judah and Israel). Most historians will tell you these people or events were real, at least partially real. Every myth contains at least a kernel of truth to it. But history, especially ancient history tells us something else. It tells us who we are. It is a reflection of our collective souls. That's why it really bothered me when I recently read about ISIS destroying some ancient sites and museum pieces recently. I couldn't help but think about what all those places and things had witnessed down through the centuries; what they had endured; the people and events which passed by them, only to be erased from history by a bunch of religious psychopaths.

One of the places destroyed was the ancient city of Nimrud, named after the mythical hunter and king, Nimrod and located about 20 miles outside of modern Mosul. According to legend, Nimrod built the foundations of the city. The city was enlarged by the historical king Shalaneeser 1 (1274 BCE - 1245 BCE) during the Middle Assyrian Empire. It was to remain the capital and royal residence of the Assyrian Empire until around 700 BCE when the Assyrian capital was moved to Nineveh. Nevertheless, it remained a principal city for several more centuries. The ancient Israelites, Greeks, Romans, and many others wrote about Nimrud. The site contained some of the best known statutes and other Near Eastern artifacts, with many ending up (thankfully) in the most exclusive museums in the world. Today, it's a thriving city and the region is, or rather, was the home of many of Iraq's Christians.

On March 5th, the terrorist group ISIS blew several locations at Nimrud, and then bulldozed the rest. Among the sites also destroyed was the Mosque and burial site of Jonah (as in the whale), Mosque of the Prophet Seth, and the Mosque of the Prophet Jirjis, located in Mosul along with thousands of ancient manuscripts and rare one-of-a-kind books. Earlier, in February, ISIS attacked a museum in Mosul, and using sledgehammers, destroyed even more ancient artifacts belonging to the Akkadian Kingdom, the first known kingdom in the world along with other ancient Assyrian, Babylonian, and Hellenists artifacts. ISIS also announced that it would destroy the famed gates of Nineveh. Meanwhile ISIS went on to destroy the ancient Parthian city of Hatra.

Hatra is located about 180 miles northwest of Baghdad and about 68 miles southwest of Mosul. Most people would recognize some of the monuments of Hatra from the opening scenes from the 1973 movie "The Exorcist", however, its ancient structures can be seen in just about any decent book about the Near East. The city itself was founded around the latter half of the second century BCE by one of Alexander the Great's generals, Seleucis 1 Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Dynasty. It was later capture by the Parthians around the 1st Century ACE, where it became one of the great cities of antiquity, known as an important religious and trading center. The city withstood countless assaults down through the ages, including those by the Roman generals Trajan and Septimius Severus. In time, Hatra became known as the "Alexandra of the East" for its peaceful infusion of regional cultures and religions.

I wonder if it was this reputation, as ancient as it might be, for tolerance that lay at the core for ISIS destroying it. Nimrud
too became a city known for its infusion of cultures and religions. Perhaps there's something to that after all since tolerance is not a word to be found in their lexicon. However, I think it's best to hear what ISIS itself said about the destruction of all these site. They claim that their Prophet Mohammed order the destruction of all "idols", and that includes all places where they are to be found they say. One has to wonder if they gave any consideration to the fact that other Moslem figures, and those much closer in both time and relationship to Mohammed, visited many of these very same places and did nothing. In 2001, members of the Taliban destroyed two of the oldest and tallest statutes of Buddha. Not reported by the corporate media was the destruction of Hindu and Buddhists statutes and sites in the Maldives in 2012 by Moslem extremists. In October of the same year, 19 Buddhist temples were vandalized by Moslem mobs in Bangladesh not to the mention terror attack on Mumbai in 2008.

In June 2014, a Moslem Saudi student, visiting Japan vandalized a Buddhist Temple and destroyed many of its statutes. Dozens of Hindu temples and shops have been attacked and burned in recent years as well. From 2007 until recently, dozens of Christian religious sites have been looted, burned, and destroyed, with the promise that "all non-Moslem sites and idols will be destroyed". None of this includes the thousands of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and others who have been murdered, robbed, raped, and kidnapped and forced to convert and then sold into slavery---yes slavery. Some girls, as young as nine, have been reportedly kidnapped and forced into so-called "marriages" with men as old as 60. Most end up dead or worse.

Let's not forget the promise of ISIS to do the same to the Vatican and eventually all churches and temples, or for that matter, even the White House. You may think they are just mouthing off, but recent history has shown that not to be true. They mean what they say. This brings me to another interesting point---where is the outcry from liberals in the US or anywhere else? After all, these extremists do not tolerate 'free thinkers", no "free speech", or smoking---of anything, nor do they accept booze, drugs, no going out alone...especially with guys, and no way will there be sex before marriage. Gay? Bi? Transgendered? How do you feel about being roasted alive on a stake or crucified? That's the punishment for not being strictly hetero. And women, you will be covered head to toe. No shorts, crop tops, no going topless and certainly, no bikinis! Think of how your movies, TV shows, sports, video games, and basically, your entire life will be fundamentally changed. Hell, no sausage, pork chops, hotdogs or bacon! If anyone should be at the forefront it is the liberals. If they think they're going to somehow be exempt, they may just get their heads handed to them...literally. And while I'm at it, where are voices and actions of those Moslems who condemn this perversion of their religion in private; in hush whispers? Are they afraid to act? If so, then who will save them because sooner or later, they will come for them too.

So, here's the rub everyone. ISIS has demonstrated its intent to deny the people of Syria, Iraq, and we might as well say the entire Near East, Africa, and Asia and eventually the West, their past as well as their future. By destroying their history, which in a way is also our history, it is attempting to cast civilization adrift; to alienate humanity from itself. They have promised us the same destruction they have imposed on others. All we have to do is nothing. Set back. Be silent. Practice a little "political correctness". Argue about whether they "really mean it" while they load their rifles, build their bombs, and prepare their suicide vests. I'm not saying Islam is evil. True Islam is not. It's a very peaceful religion, but what we're seeing is not Islam as it was intended to be. We're seeing a perverted version of it being allowed to run amuck. It destroys to gain attention and inspire fear for fear engenders obedience. It is purposefully threatening the World and each one of us individually. It is demanding Armageddon-- Ragnarok--because it loves death more than life. Tolerance is what it fears. Freedom in all its forms is what it hates. Strength of Will is to it what light is to cockroaches. So, what's it going to be folks? Forget about Washington. It's is hopelessly broken. What can we do as a united People--as Americans?

ISIS Has 'Bulldozed' Ancient Nimrud Archeological Site

ISIS Militants Destroy Iraq's Ancient Hatra City

ISIS militants destroy ancient statutes, relics in Iraq

35 Invaluable Hindu and Buddhists Statutes Destroyed in Maldives

Japan: Muslim Saudi university student vandalizes, destroys ancient Buddhist statutes

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