While Islamic State jihadists demolish antiquities and persecute their curators, Western educational institutions decapitate programs for the study of the very civilizations that produced the cultural heritage under attack. Every academic year brings more cuts or threats to departments, faculty positions, and curricula in the history, languages, and cultures of the ancient and modern Middle East, although the need for such knowledge keeps glaring the West in the face. Our political leaders scorn humanistic disciplines as lacking economic value (read: no one makes a profit from anyone’s humanistic knowledge). They consider education to serve no purpose but getting jobs and making money – not making knowledge or, heaven forfend, developing citizens. So universities downsize programs in the humanities out of existence, and undermine academic freedom to boot, as if they mean to compete with Daesh in the endeavor to destroy civilization along with knowledge of it.
Documentation of information and quotations is given in a section appended to this essay, organized topically in the same order as the essay itself, in preference to burdening sentence after sentence with long footnotes.
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