Contemporary liberalism: minimalism at home, maximalism abroad

So Kurt Andersen devoted a segment of his show Studio 360 to ISIS’s destruction of various cultural shrines and monuments in Iraq and Syria. It sounds beyond awful. As did the Taliban’s destruction of all those Buddhist monuments back in 2001. But here’s what I don’t understand about these types of reports from western journalists. When NYU destroyed Edgar Allan Poe’s home, did Kurt Andersen publicly say a word? That was an assault on our cultural heritage that he might have helped avert, but there’s no record of him, at least not that I can find, saying a thing. Yet here he is having a good old time with some State Department flack, calling for “archaeological boots on the ground”—presumably to match the other kind of boots—in order to save these treasures of civilization. But when it comes to our own treasures, our own New York treasures (the guy lives in Brooklyn), not a word. Kurt Andersen’s also the sort of guy who would castigate the left for not caring enough about America.

Contemporary liberalism: minimalism at home, maximalism abroad.


  1. Critical Reading November 11, 2014 at 12:17 am | #

    Not to mention the fact that the US invasion of Iraq caused massive destruction of the country’s cultural heritage:

    In Iraq’s four-year looting frenzy, the allies have become the vandals

    Babylon’s history damaged by modern day war

  2. Philip Eismann November 11, 2014 at 6:00 am | #

    Heritage,is to be found in the written word,not in some building or other,a birth place was never intended to become a museum.

    • Snarki, child of Loki November 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm | #

      Exactly. It’s not as if Poe designed or built that home; it was just a place to live, much like any other. If someone made a typo in recording the address, and it turned out that Poe lived a few houses away, would it actually matter?

  3. louisproyect November 11, 2014 at 7:41 am | #

    Comment on Kurt Anderson on the counterculture of the 1960s:

  4. Roquentin November 11, 2014 at 7:50 am | #

    Have you ever read anything by Chalmers Johnson? He was speaking out about the stupidity and senselessness of the destruction of priceless artifacts of ancient Mesopotamia back during the US invasion of Iraq. I only managed to get through Nemesis (of the trilogy), but I remember that topic coming up a lot.

  5. Glenn November 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm | #

    Hell, I’d be happy if some media personage decided to call for bridge repairs in the US.

    It doesn’t matter if the bridges are aesthetically pleasing if you can’t see them through a windshield cracked by falling chunks of concrete.

    The price of willful vandalism in foreign countries results in malign neglect at home.

    Follow the money.

  6. DB November 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm | #

    For more, read Chris Hedges’ “Death of the Liberal Class” Liberalism has been systematically snuffed out in this country since WWI.

  7. xenon2 November 11, 2014 at 11:55 pm | #

    Even if Poe never live there, it should be saved.
    There’s very little left of nyc.

    The Morris-Jumal Mansion had to auction off some historic
    documents that were tied to its history, in order to afford paint.

    So, now the mansion is empty…

  8. Edgar November 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm | #

    Are you seriously comparing these two instances?
    1. You’re comparing a Buddhist shrine that that was a UN World Heritage site to one of EAP’s many homes.
    2. (more importantly) In one case a regime vandalized a shrine for the sheer purposes of destroying it. In another a private property owner decided to exercise its right in the property for the purpose of developing its own property and wasn’t stopped. The number of differences between the two instances that one can enumerate is vast, and should be self-evident.

    • Corey Robin November 12, 2014 at 9:12 pm | #

      You do understand, I hope, that one usually makes comparisons between things that are in fact unlike in many ways. That’s the whole point of comparisons, to find commonalities in the context of vast differences. To wit: compare the French Revolution and the Chinese Revolution. Your point about private property owners is too silly to merit a response.

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