What Are We Losing In Iraq’s Destructive Chaos?

“As the first images of a massive destruction at one of Iraq’s holiest shrines began coming in yesterday, it was hard not to think of the building, rather than what it stands for. How old was it? What was the architecture like? Was this another loss, like the Bamiyan Buddhas, needlessly destroyed by the Taliban? Is its destruction equivalent, say, to the bombing of St. Peter’s in Rome, or Chartres Cathedral? The mind grasps for an easy equivalence… Unlike so many images of terrorist destruction, the calculated demolition of the shrine in Samarra captures the ‘was’ and ‘is’ with rare power.”