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Hum. I sort of share your discomfort, on one hand.

On the other, to pick a random example, why does the current Egyptian state have a right to those treasures which are the results of oppression and slavery by its predecessor states? There's a whole set of assumptions about nations, national myths, rights of succession and such things that I'm not comfortable making and haven't thought through. Should the Egyptians apologise for their colonial days first? When does the statute of limitations run out on these things?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:25:08 AM EST
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The looting of Iraq's archaeological heritage is a much more present concern.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:39:30 AM EST
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Absolutely, and a completely different issue: that stuff isn't going to public museums but very private collections, if we're lucky. If we're not lucky it's just being destroyed or lost.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:41:42 AM EST
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Apologize to whom?  The ancient Israelites?  Moses?  Themselves?  (Because many of the ancient Egyptians' slaves were... Egyptian.)

If I had to make a judgment call, yes, I'd say the modern Egyptian state has more "right" to them than the modern British state.  They are Egyptian, and a part of Egypt's cultural heritage, the bad with the good.  That said, they are also clearly parts of British history, at least in the obtaining of them, although they are not generally displayed as such.

I wonder... if the Beowulf manuscript were housed in the Louvre, do you think the British government would be asking for it back?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:22:12 AM EST
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No, they would be launching a punitive expedition.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:23:39 AM EST
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Also see here...
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:39:10 AM EST
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The statute of limitations is always the hidden reef in the sea of indignant moral posturing. After one has decided not to strip the Belgians of every penny to make up for some of what they did in Congo and return most of Norway (and the oil) to the Lapps, because of the deep moral principles of (a) it was a long time ago and (b) you and whose army?, catching the wind of righteousness becomes more complicated.
by rootless2 on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:24:12 AM EST
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