The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Rape of Utopia

In the PBS special "The Rape of Europa", Directed by Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen, with Joan Allen, the systematic theft and relocation to Germany of trainloads of art from all over Europe is documented. During this documentary, they show many scenes of the aerial bombings of World War II and its effects on the Art of Europe. Especially on public art, something which, for an American, is quite shocking. Not that it was destroyed, but that it existed at all. To see Florence, and then to consider the sweltering abyss known as Houston, is to see that, luckily for us, our cities would have no worries about saving public works of art, as there simply aren't any.

Of course, there's various reasons why that not only is, but should be, so. For example, the magnificent Cathedrals were built while the peasants lived in crushing poverty, the Churches and upper classes extracting money from the impoverished to pay the artisans and craftsmen that put the knowledge of centuries to work to erect monuments to their faith, following the example of the Egyptians. The United States had a different idea of what to do with its wealth, for good or ill.

The same cannot be said for America, which, contrary to what the people of the United States think, is a vast land extending across two continents, with thousands of years of history, of which the United States is only one country. One country whose citizens actually believe that it is America, but it is only in America. Never having bothered to conceive of a name for itself, it settled for a definition, and ever since has usurped the name of the continent for itself.

But what "The Rape of Europa" inadvertently reminds us of is the rest of America. Because as the documentary wrings its hands for the lost, stolen and destroyed art of Europe, and stands aghast at the crimes of Hitler and the Third Reich, it never considers for a moment the fact that Hitler merely did to Europa what Europa did to the entire continents of North, but especially South, America. Inca and Mayan art wasn't just transported across the oceans to the marauding "civilizations" of the most barbaric of continents. It was melted down and destroyed to recapture the metal, the art itself considered worthless, having been wrought by the primitive hands of savages. For centuries the gold and silver artwork of an entire continent was confiscated and shipped to Europe, so its artists could make "real" art, art which we now can use to show how horrible Hitler was and ignore that he was not an aberration, but merely a continuation of the logical result of a christian culture's consideration that the habitat and endowment of the rest of the world was its own. Hitler merely applied the same hubris to Europe itself. A Europe that for centuries considered the White race as the Master race was now confronted with a Reich that merely applied that same philosophy to a narrower subset of that so-called White race.

An entire documentary was constructed and painstakingly filmed and researched, a documentary on art, no less, and nowhere is there even a glimmer of self-awareness that what happened to Europe was nothing more than what Europe had done, on a much larger scale (in fact they use that very concept ... the enormity of the scale of Nazi theft), to the entire globe.

Now, the United States, wrapping itself in the Uber-Capitalism doctrine espoused by Milton Friedman, carries out the same mission: subjugate the economies of the globe to produce the necessities and goo-gahs demanded by the citizens of US, all in the name of the dogma of "free enterprise", even while maintaining the largest nuclear arsenal on the globe at the disposal of that same Europa, should any sovereign nation have the temerity to believe that the wealth within its borders belongs to its citizens.

When we attack Iran, with the same nonchalance which we attacked and destroyed the national treasures of Iraq, there's little doubt that the great art of Persia will be nothing more than fodder for smart bombs, cruise missiles and the great US predators. But we won't call it rape. We'll call it Friedom.
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