After the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced the intent to investigate the Oberlin College possession of the disputed artwork within the context of a criminal prosecution, the powers that be at Oberlin had a “come to Jesus moment.” They concluded that their principles weren’t rigorous enough to withstand their new roommate Bubba whispering sweet nothings in their ear. After seventeen years the family got their artwork back.
Once again liberals demonstrate that they are all about principles …. as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.
A liberal buzzword that is fashionable is restorative justice. Just what does that mean? It depends. When a liberal uses it, to suit their purposes it means to use a contemporary prism to view historical events. In this manner liberal sensibilities can then find cause for offense. Given that view, it is entirely consistent to return Indian artifacts possessed by museums for over a hundred years because, you know justice. But the term has limitations. Namely liberals get to keep score.
An example of the selective process is currently winding its way through the courts. The Nazis seized a Jewish art collector’s art collection and sent him to a concentration camp. Some of those stolen items have surfaced. Not recently, one of the artworks is possessed by Oberlin College and has been since 1957.
The New York times points out that a number of art works stolen from the same collection have been returned to the heirs of the murdered collector. There is a law that mandates such action. Other institutions that possessed items from the same collection have returned the items to the heirs. Not Oberlin College. The college has refused to return the stolen drawing. Oberlin College claims that it legitimately purchased the drawing back in 1957.
Oberlin College may have purchased the drawing. The concept is called receiving stolen property. Stolen property is contraband and doesn’t lose that status without one of two intervening events. First, the item may be returned to the rightful owner and then sold or a court of competent authority can render a decision authorizing the disposal.
In this case a court in New York has ordered the return of the drawing to the heirs. Oberlin College has refused. In these times Oberlin College has adopted a perfectly reasonable stance. Oberlin College has is a liberal bastion and therefore the law does not apply when it conflicts with the world view of the college.
Oberlin College had a choice. Returning Indian artifacts to an artificial construct, members of the Nez Perce tribe is good. Honoring a court order and returning a drawing to Jews who can demonstrate a clear-cut link to the stolen drawing is not restorative. After all they are only Jews.
Like I always say, in order to find a bigot, just find a liberal.