Thursday, 25 March 2010

Labelling Preservationists

Over on the Wayne Sayles blog there is now a sympathy-seeking article about "attacks" on him by a group which he labels as "Mentally Fixated Ideologues" (MFI). Who are these people? We can only assume he means the preservationists who oppose the stuff and nonsense dealers in ancient dugups try to pass off as justification for the continuation of the 19th century indiscriminate market in antiquities. So, nothing new, more name calling by Sayles.

Is the stance of dugup artefact dealers and collectors as represented by Sayles in fact any less ideological than our own? Are not the writings of certain coineys evidence enough that they are fixated on certain issues? The ACCG bloggers (Sayles, Tompa, Welsh, Lueke, Hooker) clearly have a fixation on attacking "archaeologists", for example, which they indulge in at every opportunity.

Now MFI is not a term I'd come across before so I googled it. It turns out that the term is used primarily by the ultra-radical right in the US, and mainly to describe their President. A prime example is James Lewis, "Obama's Strike Three: The Iranian Bomb", or in his: "Is Obama steering the ship of state toward the rocks?". Both from "The American Thinker". Then there is Kelly O'Connell, "Global Warming hoax response reveals Obama’s shaky mental acumen". Now I thought Mr Sayles prided himself on his patriotism, on Flying the Flag. If this is where he read about the disorder (which apparently does not appear in any official classifications of mental disorders), just look at what he reads about his President.

Sales once again announces that he is going to "ignore" what the Other Side say about the efforts to prolongue the indiscriminate trade in artefacts. He has said so before ("Drivel control") so this is getting a bit repetative. Fellow ACCG board member Dave Welsh also publicly announced he would no longer take part in discussions with the Other Side ("until I see them in court"). Mr Lueke seems to have got tired of his propagandist blog, Alfredo de la Fe's anti-preservationist blogging is flagging, Mr Hooker is lying low still trying to produce the first ACCG newsletter. But Mr Tompa bravely soldiers on, churning out his anti-archaeological, anti-preservationist, anti-establishment opinions.

Basically I think Sayles fails to recognise that why his ideas and the actions of the organization which he heads (the ACCG) are discussed is because they are presented in the public forum. Sayles presents his view of the world to the world as a whole and one assumes that he does so in order that they can be assessed, evaluated, pondered and discussed. That is what the democratic system that I assume he supports is built on, surely. Mr Sayles does not shrink from saying what he thinks of the actions, words and opinions of those who hold different views on the indiscriminate trade in ancient dugup artefacts. He has not in the past been averse to denigrating his opponents, to misrepresenting their opinions, to calling them names (some since removed from his blog). Mr Sayles attempts to bring public opinion around to his point of view, starting with the more gullible coin collectors and numismatic journalists. This is achieved by manipulatingly using alarmist techniques (such as what I have termed the 'Article 1 lie', or climbing on the ACCP or Cunoesque band waggon) and trying to disseminate these views as widely in the media as possible.

Should that go unremarked? Should not the tactics used by individuals like Mr Sayles not be challenged? Surely the ACCG would welcome debate in which they can show the "fallacies" of the arguments advanced against them? Surely instead of running, or "ignoring" these comments, they should be facing the challenge of explaining where the preservationists are wrong and they are in the right? I think if Mr Sayles was at all sure of the truth and universal validity of what he propounds, he would be prepared to defend these views against all comers and do so in the public eye.

I would not be surprised to find that many US ancient coin collectors are great fans of Fox's Glenn Beck. Beck has a book out (Sept 2009) called "Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government" in which with facts and figures he tries to support his "conservative" views (the subtitle also sounds like the credo of the ACCG doesn't it?). I suggest that dealers such as Sayles and Welsh might take a leaf out of Beck's book and counter the points made against their position with facts and figures, attempt to engage logical arguments with logical arguments actually addressing the points made by the preservationists with more than their usual glib propagandist dismissals. One may not agree with the views of Mr Beck or the way he expresses them, or accept the "evidence" he marshalls to support them (I most certainly do not, what I have seen and heard of them), but he at least is not running from engaging with his critics. Unlike the artefact collectors of the ACCG who can only try to think up more names to call their critics, "goose steppers", "retentionists", "nationalists", "mentally fixated ideologues" - what next?

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