Thursday, 13 January 2011

Response to the Wisconsin Twelve: "Not even "for" Secretary Clinton

Coin dealer Wayne Sayles on his coiney-moany 'Ancient Coin Collecting' blog lectures his readers (somewhat ponderously) on 'How Government Works'. As we know at the end of last year twelve congressional representatives signed a letter (Sayles calls it "the Ryan Letter", I call it a scandal) to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton asking for a review of actions by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs regarding import restrictions on illegally exported coins from Cyprus and China. We learn from Sayles (though there is no link to where we can see this response) that:
the DOS response, signed by the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs (not even "for" Secretary Clinton), was telling in that it parroted the party line of ECA and ignored the stated congressional concerns.
So failure for the coineys. Probably best all round. Which congressman would like to be tied to attempts to facilitate illegal exports of antiquities from other countries because he did not pay sufficient attention to the context of a request by a lobbying group? I presume that by "parroting the party (sic) line of ECA", Sayles means that in the face of Congressional philistinism, the State Department expressed its commitment to helping cut down the illicit trade of artefacts. Instead of accepting this is about ethical business practices, Sayles adopts the highly-charged blazing-torches-and-pitchforks political language that led to last week's Tucson tragedy, warning:
Coins may well be the straw that broke the camel's back in a growing milieu of over-regulation, restriction of personal freedoms, repression of property rights, and the loss of constitutional guarantees like the presumption of innocence. Where do our elected representatives take a stand for freedom?
What stand do elected representatives of the US people take on the trade in illegally exported cultural property? Will Paul Ryan decorate his new office with looted art because "free" to do so?

Vignette: Congressman Ryan gets a tinny wall plaque from the ACCG and in return apparently is prepared to lend his support to their efforts to secure a supply of ancient dugups whether illegally exported or not.

In a post called "Dealing with the inconsequential" Sayles shrugs off the reaction to his posts:
every word that I utter publicly, and particularly on this blog or other internet venues, has been jumped on with a vengeance by those archaeobloggers espousing a contrary point of view.
It's what is called "discussion" isn't it? You know, airing different points of view. Is that wrong? Unless one side feels they are losing ground in the public discussion.

Actually I do not think the doings of Mr Sayle's organization, the ACCG is at all "inconsequential". I think the few individuals behind it are doing an enormous amount of harm, and that should be highlighted and questioned.

Neither therefore do I think it is at all "inconsequential" to draw attention to the damaging attempts made by elements in the international artefact trade to bamboozle (or whatever) lawmakers into putting pressure on the State Department to allow the continued import of illegally exported antiquities into the US market. That is not what I would call an inconsequential act, it is a very revealing one though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, so if you don't support free trade in a world that's full of looted goods you're against apple pie and the American way.....

Johnson said "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"
but was thinking only of FALSE patriotism. He said it was "sometimes used for a factious disturber of the government" and he reckoned false patriots "appeal to the rabble" and "circulate pointless petitions"

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