Saturday 12 November 2016

Is preventing the movement of illicit antiquities into the US simply "political correctness"?

The new Face of America
This is an expansion of a post by David Knell responding to some disreputable and misguided pro-Trump tub-thumping by a US dealer in dugup artefacts (no prizes for guessing how most of them voted). The question is: 'Is preventing the movement of illicit antiquities into the US simply "political correctness"?
Tribalist Dave Welsh, a frequently outspoken American dealer in ancient coins, has expressed his hope that the recent US election will lead to a relaxing of measures designed to implement the 1970 UNESCO Convention (with all that it entails) to prevent the movement of illicit antiquities (as defined by Art. 3 of that Convention) into the US, including the threat to the hygiene of the market  potentially posed by antiquities dealers who turn a blind eye to where their stock comes from. Welsh apparently sees those measures as "political correctness". ("Political Correctness Loses", 9 November 2016).
Welsh argues that the implementation of that Convention in order to keep dodgy goods (as defined by Art. 3 of that Convention) off the market of which he is part, is in some way against the interests of the American people (sic) for whom he apparently assumes he speaks. He urges that implementation of the Convention be assigned to the Department of Commerce, that it be isolated from any other Federal cultural initiative and henceforth - against all logic -  run as some kind of independent programme ('No one in the staff of the Cultural Heritage Center should be transferred or in any way participate in the operations of the new agency').

 Knell quite rightly points out that preventing thoughtless and irresponsible US dealers siphoning off half the world's portable antiquities cultural heritage through no-questions-asked dealing in artefacts with no record of a chain of licit transfer of ownership bought solely from dealers unable or unwilling to provide such paperwork
is not a matter of "political correctness"; it is simply common sense. It is respect not only for "the interests of the American people" but for people all over the world.

1 comment:

Brian Curtiss said...

Trump cares not one bit about the illicit ancient artifact trade. His eyes are blinded by business interests as the end all be all of American prosperity and you can bet anything smacking of "regulation" will be dead on arrival. Not that anyone in the US government cares anyway. Do I sound cynical? You bet.

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