Thursday 13 September 2012

Old Man is Back- With His "Nazi" Accustions Again

When Sayles stopped dealing in ancient coins, he also deleted a lot of anti-archaeological stuff from his blog. Now it seems he's rethought his resolve and putting up more of his 'thoughts' on cultural property there ('Going too far?', September 13, 2012). Among other things in this latest post, he claims that: 
Neither UNESCO nor the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act that enables some of its 1970 resolution provisions ever intended that ubiquitous personal and commercial objects like common jewelry, arrowheads, oil lamps, coins and myriad other utilitarian objects should be treated as national patrimony.  
This is just plain wrong. Whatever the drafters of the CCPIA understood, the rest of us read in Article 1 of the 1970 Convention a definition of the types of cultural property which the Convention can cover. Elsewhere, militant Sayles-led coineys are claiming that article 1 is too all-encompassing (for their tastes), so I really am at a loss to understand why Sayles now says it is exclusive and reads something into the wording which is not there.

Once again, there is the failure to grasp (or maybe simply admit) that the Convention does not "prevent" movement of the cultural property concerned, but merely says that, in cases defined by the sovereign nation concerned, if this is not done according to a certain procedure (export licensing), this is illicit. there is a huge difference between what the Convention says and what the US dealers and collectors' lobby say it says - a difference which is as telling of their motivation in opposing these measures as well as the ability of the whole sorry milieu to read and understand a pretty uncomplicated text in plain English. Maybe they need it in easy-to understand comic-book form. Sayles continues:
Those who falsely characterize the legitimate trade in such objects as being unethical are really just saying "You must be like me, think like me and follow my rules" even when those rules run contrary to common law.   Upon reflection, that is in fact the nature of National Socialism -- is it not? 
Well, first of all if it has an export licence, there is no problem in the movement of cultural property between countries, that is what the Convention actually states. The Convention has a preamble (probably skipped by comic-book mentality folk who collect and trade artefacts) which makes it clear that it exists to promote licit movement of cultural property between states parties. Nobody here is characterising "the legitimate trade in such objects" as unethical. It is the trade in such objects which does not comply with the Convention (note in particular its Art. 3) which is seen by signatories of the Convention as not "legitimate". That is the whole point of becoming a state party to any Convention, to signify that one is in mutual agreement with its principles and what it defines as legitimate conduct and what constitutes illicit conduct.

Most of us accept that in becoming party to an international Convention  we are indeed saying "We are all working to the same end, because we all agree on this, and we will all follow these rules [created for the common good of the International community]". I cannot see how anyone (not of a comic-book mentality) would put its name to such a document by "accident', or while not agreeing at all with what it says. But Sayles is saying this is what the USA has done. Is that so?  If the USA has become a state party to a Convention, the principles of which it is in fundamental disagreement, and has no intention of implementing properly, then the USA should renounce such a convention.

It seems to me that the old man is getting a bit confused what (real, not comic-book) "National Socialism" was about.

Vignette: America was not fighting alongside the rest of us when this March 1941 cover was produced. 

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