Monday, December 29, 2014

ADN Edits Out Crucial Part Of Article

Reading the Alaska Dispatch News online, I noticed an article about the British trying to get the Americans to return the original Winnie The Pooh who's been in the US since the author gave the stuffed animal to his publisher.  Who, according to the article, gave it to the New York Power Authority, who gave it to the New York public library.  The article cites a Times of London editorial:
“Winnie-the-Pooh is not just a reference to a fictional bear, but to a national concept of a childhood Eden – an identifiable woodland in which stuffed animals, belonging to an archetypal nursery, roam in gentle complacency.”
And, the editorial went on to note, “It is obvious then that Winnie-the-Pooh, whatever else he is, is not an American.” 
 My immediate reaction, reading the headline, was "You've Gotta Be Kidding!"  The Brits have long refused the Greek government's requests (or maybe even demands) that the Brits return the Elgin marbles to Greece, which were stolen from Greece long ago.  The insult was increased recently when the British Museum agreed to loan the marbles to, of all countries, Russia.

How could they have an article on this without mentioning the Elgin marbles?

I can't put up links to the online version I read (that is a facsimile of the newspaper) because you need a password to get in.  So I googled for a copy of the article and found it at McClatchy DC.

But this article had a whole paragraph on the irony of this request:
Still, there is irony in the Times’ position, as the arguments are a mirror image of a case made recently for why the British Museum, and not Athens, was the rightful resting place for the so-called Elgin Marbles, statues that used to adorn the Parthenon but were transferred to Britain in the early years of the 19th century. Greece has wanted the statues back for 200 years, almost as long as they’ve been gone, and the arguments are the same: They weren’t sold by the Greeks but plundered by occupiers, who gave them to the British ambassador, Lord Elgin; a special museum has been built for their return, and the statues are much more than simply works of art but symbols of the greatness that was Greece.
So does someone in the ADN editing room think that Alaskans are only interested in a stuffed teddy bear, but not the theft of cultural treasures?  That the hypocrisy of wanting Winnie the Pooh while rejecting Greek claims would be lost on Alaskans?

This is Alaska where Alaska Native tribes are still working to repatriate artifacts taken from them.  

Or perhaps there's even more to the story that wasn't reported in the original McClatchy article.  Was the Times editorial a satire of the Brits' refusal to return the Elgin Marbles?  Or of the Greeks demands to get back the Marbles?

I did try to read the original London Times editorial.  What I found looked more like an article than an editorial, and when I finally found a way to get around The Times block on seeing the whole article, the quote was not from that article.  I finally found my way to  the original editorial.  I do think it is a satire - hopefully on the British refusal to return the Elgin Marbles.  It ends:
So today enlightened Americans who can imagine what it would be like if the original Moby Dick were to be displayed in, say, a Chinese museum, will surely want to join us in calling for the return of Pooh. They understand that for English people it would be almost as good as a balloon.

Maybe one of our British readers can fill us in on this story.


  1. The ADN has chosen not to publish a word about the story of Rodney Petersen's case against ASRC either, a case which Mr Petersen won btw....

  2. Anon, can you email me? Link's at upper right above blog archive.

  3. Firstly, the Elgin Marbles were not stolen.

    The Times editorial is a satire on belligerent demands to "send back" marble sculptures to a country that did not in fact exist at the time they were permitted to be taken. The British Museum has offered to negotiate a loan to Greece on the same terms it has loaned a piece to Russia, that is that the borrowers recognise the British Museum's legal right of ownership and agree to return the artifact after a specified period. In 2008 the New Acropolis Museum borrowed two pieces of Parthenon sculpture from Italy, one from the Vatican and one from Palermo and when the loan period was up duly returned them, but the Greeks stubbornly, adamantly and hypocritically refuse to broker any such deal with the "Brits".

    Lastly, the Elgin Marbles were not stolen.

  4. I've waited a bit hoping someone else might weigh in. One who did decided to delete the comments. I don't detect any irony in Anon (Wed)'s comment. I'll let readers come to their own judgments on this debate. Here are a couple of links:
    The BBC says it's complicated and leaves it at that
    45 Minute Debate in London


    1. The British Museum is like the Anchorage zoo when it didn't want to send Maggie the elephant to an elephant refuge in California. They came up with all sorts of excuses. When Maggie eventually did go off to California, none of their predictions bore out. Maggie adapted quickly and wonderfully. Just one example of the problem of this link you've offered. It lists misconceptions about the Elgin Marbles.
      "The Parthenon sculptures now in the British Museum were stolen
      Lord Elgin, the British diplomat who transported the sculptures to England, acted with the full knowledge and permission of the legal authorities of the day. Lord Elgin’s activities were thoroughly investigated by a Parliamentary Select Committee in 1816 and found to be entirely legal. Following a vote of Parliament, the government then funded the acquisition of the Parthenon Sculptures by the Trustees of the British Museum for the benefit of all people."

      Let's see, a legal review almost 200 years ago settled this they say. They fail to mention that Greece was occupied by arch-enemy Turkey (Ottoman empire) when the permission was given. So Greeks never gave permission. The 45 minute debate I listed in a previous comment gives a good sense of the issues - legal, emotional, and ethical.

  6. A white elephant fed on red herrings.


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