Thursday, 16 October 2014

Soft core terrorists and bottom-feeders

(public domain)
They are at it again. As soon as there is any armed-conflict, revolution, or terrorist activity anywhere in the world, the nationalist "cultural-property" terrorists and bottom-feeders, smelling flowers and hearing bird-song are all too eager to jump on the same band-wagon. "Illicit Trade Funds Terrorists" says the New York Times headline. The hard core terrorists kill and destroy property, while the soft core terrorists ride on their backs. They are working in unison. The real purpose of terrorism is to create dissent, hatred against certain groups or just general fear among the population. I was taught that by an RCMP Security Services (former Canadian domestic intelligence) agent after I had volunteered as an operative to help disband a newly-formed terrorist group.

This round revolves around ISIS whose iconoclasm seems somewhat at odds with the claims that they are profiting by removing artifacts from the danger zone into western collections where they will be preserved. Of course, the preservation of objects means nothing to any of the soft-core terrorists or their unthinking followers. Always, it is the destruction of sites that is mostly criticized. The typical response is parroted in one comment in the Times article by a "Casual Observer" with: "When antiquities are removed from the locations where the originated they become expensive decorative objects with almost all of their historical usefulness lost forever. ..." This fallacy was pounced upon at once by Bruce Leimsidor who nailed it so perfectly that I did a Google search for his name. I was not at all surprised to see Dr. Leimsidor's impressive credentials but was rather surprised, and pleased, to note that he is not a lobbyist and appears not to be a stake-holder in these matters. One does not reach such a station in life by being any mental slouch. He also, obviously, knows quite a bit about conflicts and refugees.

While the hard core ISIS terrorist despises religious idolatry, and the soft core "cultural-property" terrorist despises anyone who even likes antiquities, they do share an idolatry of  ideology.

But it is not just "cultural property" that is given as a source of funding and we hear about human trafficking, extortion, and so on. I have learned, though,  that the instigators of such conflicts cover their tracks rather well and actively direct blame elsewhere. Personally, I think that oil money is the most likely or major source of funding. There is no quick-fix solution to that, but we really should be doing much more to lessen our dependency on fossil fuels for political as well as environmental reasons.

If we are to lament about the current situation in the Middle East we should lament about the loss of lives  and such religious intolerance first (Muslims around the world are also victimized by these events). The destruction of monuments is bad, but their ruins will at least reveal the hatred and insanity of our time to future generations. Perhaps they will be more intelligent than us. I sure hope so.


  1. Hello John:

    You're bang on the nail again!

    It seems, contrary to what a certain Warsaw-based Englishman posing as a historian would have the world believe to the contrary; archaeologists are indeed, heavily involved in the illicit acquisition of artifacts clandestinely hoiked from heritage sites in Syria and Iraq.


    John Howland

  2. Thanks, John, Archaeologists are no more and no less criminally minded than members of any other profession. They are also as equally prone to following orders from governments, not just to keep their excavation permits, but to preserve their lives. I think Stalin killed a number of them who would not follow his orders.

    I was unable to complete my study of the W. P. Wallace collection of Euboean coins partly because their owner -- an emeritus professor of archaeology was too impatient to split it up in an auction, and because the University of Calgary refused to pay for its photography.

    I dare say that much of the looting is being carried out by people who want to get the hell out of the region. I can't blame them for that. Lives are more important than things to any rational and decent person.

  3. Paul Barford writes (on his downmarket blog):-

    "Collectors can organize themselves to fight those who raise concerns. They do so by forming groups (DIG, NCMD, ACCG, PNG, IAPN, ANA, ACDAEA) or they can carry out the fight as best they can as individuals (Tompa, Howland, Stout, Baines, Warre) and all the rest of the anti-archaeological hate bloggers."

    Ergo...anyone with opposing views must be an "anti-archaeological hate blogger"? I can't imagine why the 'Saintly One' omitted you from his bucket list.

    Warm regards

    John Howland

  4. One of his better rants with a lot of the pot calling the kettle black, and jargon -- À la Phil Agre usage:

    This also might interest:

    If Paul Barford did not exist we would have to invent him ;-)