Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Who are the real lame ducks?

David Ian in his comments on October 13th to David Gill’s post on the ongoing SLAM mask/Brent Benjamin CPAC appointment/ US foreign policy scandal (scroll down) urges us not to underestimate “the strength and tenacity of the lobbyists in Washington who want folks just like Mr. Benjamin in this position”. I for one certainly do not. I think they are very damaging to the world’s archaeological heritage, something I care very deeply about, and all too obviously, wrapped up in their own self interest, they do not. I’d say not only SLAM’s current director needs, as David Ian puts it, “a refresher on how to respect someone else's property”.

David adds
Having observed these debates for a while, I've noticed that while the opponents make no bones about their complaints, the archaeological authority is curiously silent, except for a handful of people (like yourselves), who become immediate targets of attack by the opponents.
Yes indeed, very nasty personal attacks and continual harassment sometimes. I see each case of this as simply indicating that the couldn't-care-less collectors and dealers have no real arguments with which to rebuff what their critics are saying. It is an admission of failure to find that mythical “common ground” they insist exists between archaeology and collecting.

David asks the question:
Are the archaeologists willing to fight as hard as the lobbyists?
Well, I don’t know about North American ones, but I do know that the majority of British ones most certainly are not at all keen to look too deeply beneath the glib assurances that "all is OK" and artefact collectors are "unsung heroes of the British heritage" (sic) or stick their necks out. It would not be “politically correct” you see, but actually they are really afeared that a couple of blokes with metal detectors might get a bit "stroppy" if they say anything slightly critical too loudly. Wimps. I wonder if they give other aggressive eroders of the archaeological record the same wide berth and leeway? Developers for example.

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