Many Happy Returns
Thou shalt not steal. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you.
No matter how you say it, it’s a simple concept. Unless, that is, you’re talking about international artifacts.
The British Museum, for example, is full of the world’s treasures, some of which original countries of origin want back. Greece, for one, seeks the return of the Parthenon Marbles (often called the Elgin Marbles). These sculptured panels decorated part of the Parthenon in Athens before Great Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire brought them to England at the turn of the 19th century.
Recent news out of the Middle East, however, gives us hope.
Iraq may still await peace and prosperity, but it again owns one of its most prized cultural relics. Last week, US authorities returned to the Iraqi government a 4,000-year-old representation of Entemena that looters had pilfered in April 2003.
Entemena, in case you’re wondering, was an ancient Mesopotamian king—not, as some of you are thinking, an ancient Mesopotamian enema.
The king’s followers honored him with a rare black stone statue, which rests again in Iraqi hands. Homeland Security officials received a tipoff earlier this year about the headless statue’s location, recovered it, and verified its authenticity before arranging its return to the people of Iraq.
This trend seems worth continuing. Let’s consider the following returns to set things right:
Alaska and Northern California. Two hundred years ago, the Russians established settlements and forts in Alaska and down the western coast of the continent, all the way down to a few miles north of San Francisco. Russia has fallen on hard times since the fall of the Soviet Union and could use a generous land grant boost.
Not to mention that we haven’t had much luck finding the elusive Bigfoot. Why not give someone else a shot at it?
New Orleans. Founded—and brilliantly located—by the French in 1718, New Orleans suffered because of that placement decision when Hurricane Katrina smacked the city last year. American taxpayers should stop footing the bill for reconstruction and give it back to France.
After all, France handles its own urban social ills so well … I’m sure they’ll have no difficulty fixing the Big Easy’s problems.
And, while we’re at it:
The Entire Western Hemisphere. North and South America had some pretty healthy occupants before the Europeans came over and ran roughshod over the hemisphere. Maybe Native Americans can get all the land back, save for a few reservations where anyone of European descent can settle.
Don’t worry—we’ll let these new reservation-dwellers run casinos and stuff. That’ll ease our conscience.