In June 2014, the for-profit corporation Hobby Lobby, owned by the evangelical Christian family of David Green, petitioned the Supreme Court to allow its chain of craft stores to circumvent the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby won this landmark case in a 5-4 decision (all of the female justices voted no, with Bader Ginsburg strongly dissenting). Under the guise of religious freedom, Hobby Lobby is NOT required to include contraception coverage in the insurance program for its employees.
Let’s leave for now what The New York Times said about this decision’s “…significant economic undertones. It expands the right of corporations to be treated like people, part of a trend that may be contributing to the rise of economic inequality.”
Let’s go now to this month’s news that Hobby Lobby has been fined $3 million for smuggling…or shall we say, “illegally importing thousands of Iraqi clay artifacts falsely labeled as tile samples and shipped to the company through United Arab Emirates and Israel.” (The Washington Post, July 5, 2017) Did Hobby Lobby want to offer these cuneiform tablets and cylinders in their paint-by-numbers kits?
Mr. Green said the company was collecting the artifacts because of its passion for the Bible and planned to display them in museums and public institutions. Hobby Lobby executives claimed they were new to the world of acquiring, and didn’t know “the complexities of the acquisitions process” or that what they were doing was illegal. Sort of like Speaker Paul Ryan saying that Donald Trump was “new to government,” and didn’t know he shouldn’t ask the FBI director to stop investigating the President’s friends.
The Hobby Lobby business reminded me of a poem I wrote in 2008 during the George W. Bush years. Remember, #43 is the guy who invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children and civilians; whose administration committed well-documented acts of torture and caused so many U.S. service people to come home maimed or dead.
The recent so-called victory in Mosul is a continuation of Bush’s (and then Obama’s) illegitimate war and has the whiff of that famous quote from the Vietnam conflict: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”
Are we still destroying Iraq’s culture and history in order to save it?
Civilization Looted, History Ends
In the cradle of life between two rivers,
running black with greed and red with tears,
the birthplace of written law is lawless.
No orders to protect a Sumerian harp, solid gold,
or the stone birds from Nemrik north of Mosul,
where the world’s first villages praised Innana
8,000 years ago. Smashed cuneiform,
antiquities exposed to air now turned to dust,
liberation is a lie that guards the oil, while culture
is plundered. Negligence or not, stupidity
or not, it’s coded, like the wisdom of
Hammurabi, in international agreements
from Paris and The Hague—these are crimes
the dark wit of war-cold Rumsfeld denies,
as he quips to embedded reporters:
“Just how many vases
do they have in Iraq anyway?”
© 2008 Jennie Orvino