Last week, a video was released showing the destruction of antiquities in Mosul’s museums. Since the antiquities themselves were probably smashed months ago, the dust in the display-rooms will long since have settled. Meanwhile, in the world beyond, the brutal and deliberate attack on treasures spanning millennia is already yesterday’s news.
The Islamic State, whose goons perpetrated the vandalism, appreciate more cynically than anyone that the world’s media feeds on a rapid turnover of atrocities. One succeeds another in a murderous churn. Why, then, should the destruction of statues matter more than the loss of human life? It is a question that troubles me: for I must acknowledge, if I am honest, that no images from the hell that is the Islamic State have upset me more than those which showed a winged bull more than two-and-a-half thousand years old being deliberately and methodically power-drilled.