Why are Islamists like ISIS so determined to destroy the ancient monuments and works of other cultures? Writing at Taki’s Magazine, Dalrymple says it’s because they have given in to the all-too-human temptation of barbarity. Better to embrace the attitude exhibited in the words of Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India, whom he quotes at length:
If there be any one who says to me that there is no duty devolving upon a Christian Government to preserve the monuments of a pagan art or the sanctuaries of an alien faith, I cannot pause to argue with such a man. Art and beauty, and the reverence that is owing to all that has evoked human genius or has inspired human faith, are independent of creeds, and, in so far as they touch the sphere of religion, are embraced by the common religion of all mankind. Viewed from this standpoint, the rock temple of the Brahmans stands on precisely the same footing as the Buddhist Vihara, and the Mohammedan Musjid as the Christian Cathedral. There is no principle of artistic discrimination between the mausoleum of the despot and the sepulchre of the saint. What is beautiful, what is historic, what tears the mask off the face of the past and helps us to read its riddles and to look it in the eyes – these, and not the dogmas of a combative theology, are the principal criteria to which we must look.