What cowards would bomb a museum?
On independence, the sanctity of museums, and the perverted view of humanity required to make culture a target for explosives
A local history museum in Ukraine was destroyed by a Russian missile in a dastardly attack that murdered at least two people inside the museum. It requires a perverted view of humanity to target a history museum using weapons of war.
■ What kind of society is so threatened by its neighbors that it would murder a museum worker? What kind of culture is so fearful that it cannot let its next-door neighbors celebrate their own identity in peace? What kind of cowards use their weapons to destroy artifacts and kill people merely celebrating their own history?
■ These questions are more than merely rhetorical. Erasing the unique identity of a people is a way to weaponize culture; in this case, the self-evident goal of the aggressor is to diminish Ukraine's claim to independence. That has been a signature aspect of the aggression since the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine.
■ The dastardly strategy has backfired, with Ukrainian self-identity stronger than it has ever been recorded before. Yet the attacks persist, against libraries, museums, theaters, and cultural symbols. UNESCO counts 253 different sites that have been targeted.
■ A self-confident country wouldn't have to assault the cultural memory of its neighbor to justify its own reckless bloodlust. An army committed to the profession of arms in self-defense wouldn't need to lob its missiles at a 55-year-old woman for running a museum. A nation belonging to the 21st Century wouldn't blow up apartment buildings full of children while claiming the presidency of the UN Security Council.
Artifacts don’t shoot back