Destruction of Saddam’s statues: Sign of Iraqi liberation or artistic tragedy?

By Cyrus Moussavi 2005

Whenever you watch the news these days, you have to brace yourself for the horrific images and gruesome tales of murder and corruption, besides the haggard and hairy sight of Wolf Blitzer.

As an average, jaded American television viewer, I have become somewhat accustomed to these types of scenes (except, of course, the sight of Blitzer), but recently, I was shaken out of my Laz-e-Boy by a particularly disturbing incident I saw. From many different camera angles provided by CNN, I saw American troops helping to tear down and destroy statues of Saddam Hussein all over Iraq. Now, I support our war effort just as much as the next doctor of journalism, but I was taken aback by these disturbing images. It does not seem right to destroy valuable artwork, no matter who the subject is.

Many people will argue that tearing down statues of Hussein is a message to his regime that their time is up and that the United States has won the war. This might be true, but there must be an easier way to do this. Think of all the famous (and priceless) statues that are being held in museums around the world. Most of the people who have been immortalized in stone were tyrants ruling nations back in their own times, and in turn, they were probably taken over by other tyrants or evil dictators. The statued leaders probably weren’t the nicest guys, but their conquerors still had enough respect to preserve their statues, and now they are being held in famous museums and provide conversation topics for bored intellectuals throughout the world. If we continue the practice of destroying artwork from every nation we may conquer, the Louvre might go out of business.

While many people note that most of Saddam’s statues make him look like a plump and mustachioed Tony Danza, it is very likely that they were carved by the most skilled craftsmen on the other side of teh Euphrates, and while Americans might see the statues of Saddam as symbols of an oppressive government, some Iraqi sculptor is pounding his head into a wall over the destruction of his masterpiece.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember as we tear down these statues is that they weren’t even Saddam’s to begin with. The millions of dollars spent on these statues did not come out of Hussein’s own wallet but out of the collective pockets of the people of Iraq. As part of the typical evil dictator’s role, Saddam took most of the money people in his country made and used it for his own purposes, including the hundreds of Hussein/Danza statues floating around Iraq. So when we tear the statues down, we’re contributing to the looting in Iraq that our troops are tryingn to stop right now (when they’re not too busy securing oil fields). Even Donald Rumsfeld opposes looting … kind of, “looting is an unfortunate thing … no one likes it.”

Instead of destroying statues of Saddam, I think we should move them out to a warehouse, maybe in Guantanamo Bay, and keep them for a couple decades. Someday, they might be worth enough to bail our country out of the fiery inferno of budget deficits that we will be facing. If not that, we would always sell them on Ebay and use the money to get Wolf Blitzer a good shave and haircut.

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