Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ivan Macquisten Soothes Dealers in Artnet News

Argument invalid...

"Let's capitalise every word in this" says Ivan Macquisten (in Artnet news, September 28, 2020): A New Report on Transnational Crime Shows That the Business of Smuggling Cultural Property Is Not as Big as People Think - yay!
Despite reports from some officials that have characterized the illicit trade in antiquities as a multi-billion-dollar industry and the third largest black market after the drugs and arms trades, the new report reveals that the scale is much more modest.
Never mind that those of us that actually study this market dismiss such puff as just that...

Mr Macquisten stumbles on with his interpretation of the 2019 World Customs Organization's annual report on transnational crime. He's great pals with the likes of Peter Tompa and the ACCP and picks for highlighting the elements of the narrative that suits the story they want him to tell, so I cant be bothered to go through this, Donna Yates has announced on Twitter she'll be doing a blog post on it which will no doubt pull his crap apart (Update Link here). In fact for the last couple of years, Macquisten has been repeating this activity each time one of these reports comes out, same arguments applied, same kind of data used to support them. So it will be good to see an academic like Yates set the record straight in a place where the general public can (if they look) learn of it. 

Macquisten soothes "In fact, cultural heritage crime is so minor compared with other risk categories globally that it barely registers on Customs’ radar" - which is not the same as saying this is not a problem to be dealt with by the legitimate market (for the sake of argument lets's say such exists) and the rest of the civilised world (except the no-questions-asked collectors and dealers, for they belong to another world).

Here's his subheadings:
"A Global Picture of Relative Inactivity"
"Antiquities Are a Small Share of Crime"
"Western Europe Is Not a Hub for Smugglers"
" Not the Full Picture"

Actually hate rape with a racist motivation is also a small share of crime, about which one could say there is a global picture of relative inactivity, and perhaps western Europe is not a hub for that, and I doubt we are getting a full picture of its scale and consequences in the media. I do not see that as any kind of an "argument" for not taking the problem seriously and trying to stamp out the root causes. Do you, Mr Macquisten? 

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