Karen Antonelli, a dual citizen of the US and Italy, expressed these heartfelt concerns about the impact of the MOU on Italian Americans:
Dear Cultural Property Affairs [Advisory] Committee,
I am a dual citizen of the
United States and of Italy living in San Francisco, California. I have a Ph.D.
in Italian Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles as well
as an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. Although I lived most
of my first twenty years in Italy (but born of American parents of Italian
descent who were working for the U.S. government at the time), I have resided,
full time, in the United States for more than forty years and treasure both my
U.S. and my Italian heritage. I get tremendous satisfaction sharing my Italian
heritage and culture with my fellow Americans and promote business relationships
between Italy and the U.S. by teaching Italian language, literature and film
classes as well as by performing professional translations for individuals and
Unfortunately, the proposed extension (and perhaps expansion)
of the present Memorandum of Understanding with Italy will do little to help,
and a great deal to harm, the study and understanding of Italian heritage and
culture, at the very least to the extent that it will restrict the import into
the United States of abundant small objects like coins and other common
artifacts. This is especially true as these objects were intended to, and did,
travel great distances. These objects are useful not only in teaching the
history of ancient Rome, its successor city-states and the modern Italian
Republic, but in understanding so many aspects of its culture...societal
relationships, religion, cultural tropes, trade and economics.
proposed MOU only harms United States citizens...restricting the import of the
coins and similar common artifacts here, while they continue to be bought and
sold, and travel widely, throughout Europe and even in Asia.
Italian citizen, if I can purchase these objects in Italy as my heritage, why
may I not bring them to the U.S. to share and teach?
Of course, I support
the suppression of looting of archaeological sites (as I understand it, the
purported reason for the ban on importation) but there are much better ways to
do this than the extension of the MOU. Please do not renew it, or at least
exempt from the extended MOU all common, abundant artifacts like coins. The goal
of the Committee should be to preserve culture, not as an end in itself, but to
promote the availability and awareness of culture to the citizens of the United
CPO (as an Italian-American himself) understands and agrees with these concerns. MOUs such as this only cut-off access to common artifacts like historical coins that provide us with a tangible link to our own culture of birth.
Ms. Antonelli's letter has been published on the website of Primo Magazine, which celebrates Italian culture.