here, here, here) recently informed the world that while millions of people were filling themselves with what amounts to intellectual popcorn as they watched the Oscars telecast, the military arm of ISIS in Iraq was busy bombing and burning Mosul's public library.
The library had stood for several hundred years and its collections, stocked with rare materials, were then emptied and publicly burned. ISIS's fascination with both fire and explosive devices show just how dangerous this religious group is to our collective humanity. They stand proud of their achievements in the rape, murder and total destruction of people and communities they have captured.
In fact, rape, murder and destruction are essentially the fulfillment of their religious teaching and values. They believe that by taking such violent action that they are defending their faith and their god.
Why destroy the Library? Why are libraries frequently considered high value military targets by violent mobs and war criminals? It's really an easy answer. Libraries are both sanctuaries and incubators of ideas.
Libraries are the equivalent of safety zones where people regardless of age, race, orientation, income and social status (or any protected class) can come and learn. Libraries serve as an essential part of and are foundational to democracy. By destroying libraries and their intellectual contents the enemies of peace and humanity are really destroying hope.
Burning books, which is essentially the outcome of viewing ideas as a physical enemy, should be considered a war crime. Not only do those who light the fire assassinate culture but they also kill language, history, identity and thoughts. They viciously kill our human spirit and the human right to freely think, gather, research and speak.
Aside from the Mosul Library being destroyed, this war mongering religious military has also destroyed the Mosul University library as well as other cultural centers and performance spaces.
One of the articles note that after the 2004 invasion of Iraq lead by America's less than brilliant President Bush (PL editor's comments not found in the article), mobs looted the Mosul Library. But wealthy families actually purchased back and recovered the stolen collections making the library whole. There is real pride in community libraries, so much so that (which is noted in the article) as the Mosul library and its contents burned by ISIS just days ago, citizens in the area were crying as if they had lost a family member.
Religious mobs and other fascists have performed acts of terror against libraries in the past. We can go back to Alexandria if we want to offer examples of Christians destroying world culture or we could, in our time machine, fast forward to Nazi Germany and see how fire was used to censor and destroy books and other library materials prior to the systematic murder of 6 million people. And even today books are burned by communities which view them as dangerous or immoral - all typically because they offend a religious sensibility.
We can be a good, kind, moral and healthy species. Libraries by there mere existence show this to be true. So it is both sad and ironic that the enemies of peace use violence to physically destroy libraries and their holdings.
If we are ever to become free of religious terror then bolstering libraries is an essential part of showing the world that democracy flourishes best when access to ideas and the freedom to know is central and equally valued by governments and people alike. These are the humanistic ideas we must live by and export to the world. We can do it and we will win if we do not let the enemies of peace destroy our hope.