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Burning art, burning books

Burning art, burning books
June 2, 2017
June 2, 2017 June 2, 2017

When irreplaceable art, books, educational material and ­heritage assets are destroyed, there is no resurrection, writes DR M C D’ARCY.

IQRA! Read and learn. Knowledge breeds wisdom. It builds a better individual, a better society, a better world. Embrace art; it is soulfood.

Fires flare to the sky! It’s exhilarating! Classrooms flame, die into ashes. Education dies too. Precious art is ripped from walls and torched. Paintings and photographs of heroes and history blaze red-hot. The smoke is intoxicating. Nerves tingle and thrill. Burn! Smash! Stone!

‘Down with colonial education!’ ‘Fees must fall!’ A mortal blow has been struck to the hearts of capitalist reactionary forces. Victory!

Really? Mayhem and wanton destruction have no victors. There are only losers in the tumult of taunting protest and power play. When irreplaceable art, books, educational material and heritage assets are destroyed, there is no resurrection.

When protestors fling stones, they are using lethal weapons. When intolerant, destructive mobs rule, reason dies. More ominously, the future becomes fuzzy with acrid odours of things worse to come. When you read about a student’s recent rant demanding: ‘Decolonise science,’ shudder. Be forewarned of a foetid portend.

Ask history what happened in Hitler’s Germany after 25 000 books and paintings, deemed ‘Un-German’, Jewish and seditious were torched on a bonfire in Berlin by students and storm troopers on May 10, 1933.

In March, 1939, the Berlin Fire Brigade burned 4 000 paintings, drawings and prints.

They ignored the prescient, Jewish-German poet, Heinrich Heine’s, warning a hundred years before Hitler: ‘Wherever books are burnt, human beings are destined to be burned too.’

How right he was.

Seventy years after World War II we can still smell the burning, rotting flesh from the Nazi death-camps of Auschwitz, Dachau and Belsen.

In 221 BC, Chinese Emperor Qin buried 1 000 scholars alive and burnt all their history books so that he could write his own version of history.

In 1193, Bakhtiyar Khiliji’s Muslim army burnt the renowned Indian Nalanda University’s three-storey libraries containing hundreds of thousands of books. It smouldered for three months.

The Spanish Inquisition’s Tomas Torquemada held book-burning festivals and roasted Muslims and Jews at the stake.

Bishop De Landa wiped out all the Mayan books in Mexico. Only three survive. He also burnt many Mayans in the name of Christianity.

During World War II, the Japanese destroyed many millions of books in Chinese libraries.

In Poland, the Nazis destroyed 16 million books.

The Allies firebombed 35 major German libraries, destroying a third of the country’s books and manuscripts. (Mentalfloss. Burning stories that will break your heart)

It cannot happen here? But it has. Cunningly, it is disguised in euphonious words. At universities, tertiary-educated ‘activists’ (mobs) threw ‘poo’ (faeces) over statues.

Non-protesting students, eager to continue with their education, as is their constitutional right, were prevented from attending classes and writing exams.

Erudite ‘activists’ attempted to burn down Jagger Library at UCT.

Precious records were shredded at many universities and colleges all over South Africa.

Violence in South Africa blooms like Namaqualand daisies. Xenophobia is crass economic racism in disguise. Adversaries are hacked to death with pangas (machetes) or ‘necklaced’ with a petrol-filled tyre strung around their necks, roasting the victim to a crisp. Art works are attacked and burnt. Sculptures defaced.

Mobs are averse to reasoned dialogue. Classrooms and libraries were burnt by the dozens. Recently, a mob in an impoverished northern province burnt down two schools and a clinic because the municipality did not tar a gravel road. The idiocy of such acts against themselves and their children’s future did not cross their minds.

Muslims are no different to this kind of mob-hysteria. We are witness to this type of carnage through Africa, the Middle East and across to Afghanistan and Iraq.

They are mired in cruel unrelenting wars, often started, or aided and abetted, by the super-powers of the West, Russia and China.

In this butchery of human values, there have been only soft clerical murmurs while bombs and gas relentlessly rage on millions of innocent refugees.

Irreplaceable art, thousands of years old, bear testimony to man’s past glory; they are treasures to be cherished and savoured. Across the Muslim world, artistic gems have been defiled, blown up and bombed to smithereens by Isis, the self-appointed arbiters of radical Islam. The sound of dynamite is music to their ears.

In Afghanistan, the famous giant ceramic Buddhas were blown up by fanatical Taliban hoards. Gloating Isis pseudo-Muslim fanatics have destroyed Allepo’s ancient temples and ruins. These attractions brought in millions of dollars of tourist money to feed the populace. They are gone.

Through these wanton acts, the evil mullahs and their rabid followers have robbed the world of its history. They have also starved future generations, not only of their art but also of their bread.

Priceless artefacts were and are raided from museums, not to buy sustenance or educational material to feed the poor but to acquire guns and explosive vests that they coerce brainwashed, gullible youths to wear as suicide bombers.

They rejoice in killing and maiming crowds of innocent men, women and children. Cursed clerics falsely promise entry to paradise for the ‘martyrs’ who blow themselves up; but they sow hell and damnation here on earth. Weep.

After World War II, USA’s President Dwight D Eisenhower, in his final speech in office, said: ‘Beware of the military-industrial complex; they are the new dangers to world peace.’

How true.

For them war is good. Sales of military equipment and explosives are rocketing.

Dictators buy new toys of destruction for the military to enjoy while the world burns and crumbles in never-ending wars of the Apocalypse.

A year or so ago, Boko Haram destroyed many priceless handwritten manuscripts, Qurans and kitaabs in Timbuktu, Mali. They were the last records of a once thriving educational centre in North Africa.

Boko Haram also damaged the specialised library that the South African government built from our tax money to aid recovery and preservation of the old manuscripts.

Some of the books were reburied in the sand to keep them safe from these ignorant savage hoards who appointed themselves as guardians of Islam but, in reality, sow anarchy and ignorance.

Thankfully, Boko Haram has been expelled from Timbuktu and many manuscripts have been saved.

The world has forgotten Mohandas Ghandi’s Satyagraha, non-violent philosophy, which he devised here in South Africa. He said: ‘Intolerance is itself a form of violence and obstacle to the growth of the true democratic spirit.’ And, ‘Violence is the weapon of the weak, non-violence is that of the strong.’

Sadly, in most democracies, minorities are often intimidated, their legitimate voices of truth silenced by uncaring vocal majorities; so, justice dies slowly, inch by inch.

Martin Luther King said: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about the things that matter.’

Read books, paint pictures while you can.

Burning books and libraries are blunders that deprive humanity of informed ­reasoning and progress.
Photo M C D’ARCY

Rylands Library, a hive of learning and pleasure: words, music and art – free soul food for everyone.
Photo M C D’ARCY

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