Monday, May 18, 2015

The Anti-Tompa "Crusade"

Having failed to make significant headway in his efforts to discredit the ACCG and numismatic trade associations, Varsovian archaeology-centric blogger Paul Barford has now instituted an effort to personally discredit ACCG spokesman (and trade association lobbyist) Peter Tompa:

This observer views that unscrupulous effort as being both deceitful and dishonorable.

Attorney Tompa has very distinguished qualifications in his field, far more so that those of former archaeologist Barford. His representation of the interests of the ACCG, IAPN and PNG has been in this observer's opinion, ethical, honorable and professional.

Perhaps the difficulty here is that the words ethical, honorable and professional have very different meanings to Mr. Barford than they do to the average citizen of the USA, and quite possibly, also the average citizen of other English-speaking nations.

Peter Tompa's blog is a venue in which the real truth, as Dr. Tompa (J.D. cum laude, 1986) sees it, is honestly presented. Mr. Barford's blog on the other hand, is for the most part mere anti-collecting and anti-trade propaganda. Lately it seems that his attempts to disguise his extreme bias against private ownership of, and free trading in, "archaeological objects" such as ancient coins have become less and less noticeable, and the anger and bitterness he cherishes toward collectors, the antiquities trade, metal detectorists and the British PAS have been more and more overtly revealed.

Mr. Barford has not published a curriculum vitae, nor has he publicly disclosed relevant details of his present employment, political affiliation, and other matters of interest to those who seek to accurately assess his qualifications and objectivity as a commentator upon events and developments in cultural heritage affairs.

Mr. Tompa on the other hand, along with other officers of the ACCG including this observer, and others associated in the cause of pro-collecting advocacy, have published such curricula vitae and have made no attempt to conceal any relevant aspect of their lives and opinions.

Some observers, focusing upon Mr. Barford's extreme antipathy toward private ownership of antiquities and commerce in these objects, have contended that this is prima facie evidence that his 1986 hegira to Warsaw, where he subsequently served the People's Republic of Poland as a university lecturer and as Inspector of Monuments, was motivated by Communist sympathies and that Mr. Barford is actually a closet Communist.

Barford's secretiveness regarding his background certainly does not discourage such speculation.

This observer does believe that if Mr. Barford were in fact a Communist, he could hardly be expected to publicly oppose private collecting, the antiquities trade, and metal detecting with more antipathy and venom. The question therefore appears, for all practical purposes, to be moot.

UPDATE 5/19/2015

It did not take very long for Mr. Barford to react to the above remarks:

That is of course very much a matter of opinion. Suffice it to say that no one has appointed or elected Mr. Barford (or any other archaeologists) to be the arbiters of morality, regarding what is "right" or "wrong" with respect to the possession and sale of antiquities, for example ancient coins.

In this case I believe that Mr. Barford is deceitfully misrepresenting what he presents himself as being the spokesman for. He has taken to using the plural pronoun "we" to suggest that he is voicing the opinions and concerns of a great many others who concur with his ideological fixations regarding acquisition of, and trading in, unprovenanced antiquities. However, no information is provided regarding who these undefined "others" are, their numbers, or their knowledge of the issues.

Those prominent in the pro-collecting advocacy movement (including this observer) believe that Mr. Barford does not have many supporters within the archaeological establishment. Much has been said (in private) indicating that his extremism and discourtesy are actually regarded as an embarrassment by more open-minded archaeologists.

Mr. Barford's habitual use of the term "ad hominem" in an attempt to deflect the reader's attention from anything he regards as being unfavorable to his personal credibility is really quite incongruous, given the plethora of pejorative jargon that fills his blog whenever he discusses anyone connected with the pro-collecting advocacy movement, anyone involved in the antiquities trade, or collectors.

Another theme very frequently found in his blog utterances is the implication that doing something for remuneration or profit is morally wrong. Attorney Tompa, representing trade organizations in venues important to their interests, is described as a "paid lobbyist." This observer is habitually described as "Dealer Dave," sometimes even as "Dugup Dealer Dave," with frequent implications that my real motivation for being involved in pro-collecting advocacy is greed and selfishness. Such implications and insinuations do suggest a Marxist social and economic perspective.

I don't think it is in any way unreasonable or unjust to describe this passage in Mr. Barford's paean of hate toward attorney Tompa as being dishonorable:

"If a person associated in any capacity in the public eye with the PNG in his "personal blog" had expressed extremist anti-Moslem or anti-semitic views, or White Supremecist ones, would an organization truly promoting integrity and responsibility not distance themselves from him? If for example a person representing PNG had written his "personal view" that "little n***r girls who go out in the streets in white areas of the town in short dresses deserve to be raped", would the PNG still take the view that their representative is entitled to his personal views, or would they consider that such opinions are detrimental to the image of themselves and all of their members and put a stop to it? I see very little difference in the fictional view above and the victim-blaming "personal view" expressed throughout his lobbyist's blog by the chosen representative of the PNG that people who live in countries with (what he sees as) "corrupt governments" deserve to have their heritage raped by looters and smugglers, and dealers should not be expected to lift a finger to do anything."

Perhaps Mr. Barford really does believe what he utters in his blog, and is not just saying such things to score propaganda points or to create an effect. Sincerity may perhaps explain, but does not in any way excuse, the excesses of that hideously inappropriate and defamatory passage.