As government forces are preoccupied with taking Aleppo, ISIS militants have retaken the ancient city of Palmyra. While the city is not strategically valuable, it is the home to many archaeological treasures. Palmyra, founded around 2000 BC, is no stranger to war. Among other conquerers, Rome’s Mark Antony sieged the city. Centuries later, Byzantine’s famous Justinian the I conquered the city in order to fortify it from neighboring Arab Kingdoms. Tragically, ISIS is intent on destroying thousands of years of historical and archaeological evidence. While historians have attempted to rescue artifacts from the Islamic State’s purge, ISIS has, and will continue to do, damage.
The Islamic State’s intent to destroy history is a testament to their barbaric nature. In no way is their ideology compatible with Western Civilization. History, no matter how disagreeable, must be preserved for later study. Previous conquerors in Palmyra seemed to understand this. ISIS does not. While ISIS is losing their war in Syria, they have shown they are a wholly antithetical to our precepts of decency and civilization. Even if ISIS is eliminated from the region, their sick ideology will continue to live in the minds of dissidents and rogues. The willful destruction in Palmyra is a small analogy for the cancerous influence of ISIS on society and culture.