Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Antiquities

Yesterday, we started seeing video on Al Jazeera of vandalism at the Cairo Museum. Display cases were smashed, some objects damaged, thrown on the floor, a few may have been stolen, but reports at first were that nine, then two, vandal/looters were apprehended in the Museum and apart from the damage to the objects, mummies, and cases, the Museum was secure. Protesters had joined with the army to cordon it off. There were also reports that the vandals were found to be members of the NDP acting as provocateurs to discredit the protests.

The link goes to a discussion of what was damaged at the Museum, and two of the objects shown (in the header picture above) appear to be part of the Tutankhamen collection. However, it is my understanding that these objects are on tour in the United States, the exhibit set to open in St. Paul on Feb 18. I'm not absolutely sure the objects shown broken in the Museum images above are in the current exhibit, but I recall them being in the exhibit that toured the US in the '70's, and they are such iconic objects from Tut's tomb it's hard to believe they would not be in the current exhibit.

I suspect, therefore, that the broken objects shown in the Museum video were reproductions -- which are certainly common enough in the Egyptian antiquities field.

It's hard to believe that proud Egyptians would have anything at all to do with destroying -- let alone looting -- their artistic and historical legacy. But I thought the same regarding the treasures at the Baghdad Museum after the invasion. The Iraqis were too proud of their history to destroy it, weren't they?

Which is where we may find a cultural fault between peoples who have been living under a long-term brutal dictatorship -- such as those in Iraq and Egypt -- and Americans, who are merely getting a taste of what a real police state is like.

It's quite possible that pride in the past may not be as strong as we Americans think.

On the other hand, the damage to the Cairo Museum is relatively light.

Meanwhile, the protests in Egypt continue, indeed appear to be intensifying. Al Jazeera is operating under unspecified restrictions (for example, their correspondents on the scene cannot be named; communications are sketchy at best) but they are still covering the protest action as fully as they can. It's obvious to me that the United States is a major player behind the scenes, doing its best to "manage" the situation, keeping at least the appearance of pressure on Mubarak while prattling about "democracy" and so forth. Clearly, though, the Mubarak regime is being propped up at the same time.

And in Tunisia, even though the ruling clique was driven from the country, the replacement "government" has obviously tried to maintain the strong CIA/American ties the previous one had, and it seems to be maintaining the same ridiculous and counterproductive globalist economic policies that got the previous government overthrown.

So we can easily imagine that even if the Mubarak regime falls, nothing -- much -- will change.

The Status Quo will be maintained.

At least for now.

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