Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slim Public Support for Italian Import Restrictions Raises Questions About State Department Special Interest Program for Archaeologists

Politcos within the Obama State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Diplomats from the Italian Embassy take note: a recent FOIA request reveals that CPAC only received thirteen (13) public comments in support of controversial import restrictions on "coins of Italian type."

Not that there really was any groundswell of public support for renewing the Italian MOU in the first place. Indeed, CPAC received only about one hundred (100) comments in favor of renewing the MOU at all.

Who supported the renewal of the MOU? The American public? Well, maybe only one or two individuals identified themselves as such. No, as one might expect, virtually all the support came from archaeologists who excavate in Italy, their students or their "trade associations."

And who supported restrictions on coins? Well, the AIA, Lawyer's Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, a few professors and students from NYU (Home of Pro-Restriction CPAC member Joan Connelly) and foreign archaeo-bloggers like David Gill and Paul Barford.

Contrast this with the one thousand nine hundred (1,900) plus public comments opposed to the extension of import restrictions on ancient coins.

Given this disparity, one can only ask: What gives? Why has the State Department disadvantaged the interests of American collectors and the small businesses of the numismatic trade by imposing hard to meet documentation requirements when the support for such restrictions is so limited?

And more to the point, has State Department Cultural Heritage Center staff told the political appointees at State and the diplomats at the Italian Embassy how thin the support actually is for restrictions?

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