Sunday, 4 July 2010

US Collectors' Fourth of July: Betraying the Spirit of '76

Washington lawyer Peter Tompa reminds his readers that July 4th "is our Independence Day here in the United States [...] our 235th year of Freedom". He then enlarges on what he thinks this Freedom-with-a-capital-'F' brings:
This year American coin collectors can again celebrate their continued ability to import unprovenanced ancient coins
That's it. In other words to buy ancient artefacts without bothering their little minds where they come from, whether they have been ripped off from the illegal and exploitive destruction of the archaeological heritages of some foreign developing nation. So on the day when most Americans are celebrating rejecting colonialism, carefree "internationalists" like Tompa are revelling in the imposition of US colonialism. I think 4th July is a day when other citizens should be taking a good hard look at what some among their number are doing and what message their self-centredness gives out about that hard-won "freedom" and the responsibilities that go with it.

Vignette: The spirit of '76 (after Archibald M. Willard 1836-1918 - one of several variant versions). [The drummer on the left with the deformed legs is clearly an ancient coin collector, he's not looking where he is going].


FlaviusSextus said...

He also calls the U.S. government, namely the State Department, the "King George" to collectors.

The Department of State was established by the Senate and Congress two years after the writing of the Constitution, which gave the President power over foreign relations. The State Department was/is the executive department for this provision.

He wraps himself in patriotism, but if he wants to go that route, one observes he is in fact being very unpatriotic for purely selfish reasons. But what does one expect from a small-minded lobbyist with an axe to grind?

Paul Barford said...

[Well, frankly as Brit I must say I find the comment about "King George" a bit offensive anyway... Tompa may not be aware of it, but for most of his reign, he was not actually that bad a monarch as monarchs of the Enlightenment go. Take a look at some from continental Europe, and was Washington any less of an autocrat?].

To come back to the point... Of course we should also take note who was appointed the first Secretary of State in the newly-formed Department, Thomas Jefferson, who [whatever else he may be famous for] many regard as one of America's first archaeologists.

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