In Trafalgar Square on Tuesday 19 April, Mayor of London Boris Johnson unveiled a scale model of the Roman arch of triumph which had stood tall among the classical ruins of Palmyra, Syria, until Islamic State (IS) militants destroyed it during their 10-month occupation of the ancient city.
‘Palmyra’, sounding something like ‘Ikea’. And thousands of lightweight copies wouldn’t look amiss on supermarket shelves.
Imagine: for easy self-assembly, user-friendly semblance of the lost art of moral authority; models of a model which arches from hommage to…..a cheesy rhyme on the c-word that can’t be said.
Western Civilization – let’s call an ace, an ace – was never pure and simple. The eternal city gave us rule of law, but the IS death-cult wouldn’t look askance on the legion of death-displays during the Empire Days of Rome.
If time ran the wrong way, mischievous Caligula might even copy the cultists: stringing up the decapitated corpse of Khalid al-Asaad (83), Palmyra’s retired director of antiquities, placing his bespectacled head on the ground between his feet, and, noting thick black frames below the badger-brush of white hair, only adding a line underneath:
‘So it’s goodnight from him’.
But they couldn’t make it up, these barbarians. They couldn’t have, because we did the spadework for them. Based on banality, the pantomime savagery of so-called ‘so-called Islamic State’ is mainly a magnifying mirror of Western regression since the 1960s – always ready to scale back on the story of human achievement, presenting instead the model village version (as did the Mayor in Trafalgar Square last month), downsizing to meet the diktat of the day.
We aced our own civilisation; and as we scale it down, they step up the bar-bar-barbarism – all for the cameras, of course.
Say cheese but what comes out of our mouths, is blood and loss.