Shady dealing is a norm in that part of the world. There are also lots of purloined artifacts on the market thanks to our destruction of the place. There are lots of purloined artifacts on the market in general. The government spent years trying to prove that Hobby Lobby bought some of these items.
So in an investigation begun while the Hobby Lobby case was wending its way up the federal court system, Hobby Lobby has been coerced into to handing over everything it purchased and pay a three million dollar fine. According for the DOJ:
“The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action.”Hobby Lobby got suckered by UAE and Israeli dealers into buying some ancient clay tablets that the government doesn’t even claim to have cultural academic significance. But then the law is the law and we must all follow it. As one Special Agent in Charge Melendez said in the Government release:
“The protection of cultural heritage is a mission the (CBP) take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless.”Well, some of them may, but others consider all such reminders of pre-Islamic life so much garbage.
For his part, Mr. Green, President of Hobby Lobby said Hobby Lobby ….”was new to the world of acquiring these objects, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process.”
The Government was at pains to fault Hobby Lobby for not being careful enough in the process of buying from shifty Middle Easterners but when a journalist for The Daily Beast got too close to blaming Hobby Lobby for deliberate deception, The Beast was forced to publish the following correction:
Correction: This story has been edited to make clear that Hobby Lobby received falsely labeled artifacts from a supplier, according to the Department of Justice. The UAE-based dealers involved in the transactions falsely labeled the artifacts as “ceramics” and “samples” and illegally shipped them to Hobby Lobby stores and corporate affiliates in the United States, the DOJ said.Given this, why a three million dollar fine? That’s far more than the value of the items, items that have never been described as historically meaningful. People familiar with the Federal Justice system are not surprised at this heavy scrutiny and selective enforcement of politically unfavored citizens. Does anyone think that the three million dollars will go to a good cause?