Political correctness goes global. Men have overrun, sacked, absorbed, and destroyed other cultures on all of the inhabited continents for millenniums. They stole fair-and-square whatever they were powerful enough to take at the point of a spear. Now the whimpering descendants of the defeated and feckless have the audacity to ask for all of their loot back, some of which they stole themselves! Yes, even the invaded were invaders. Remember, thievery was the norm. Everyone did it, even the Chinese, who are the latest to awaken to the profitable piracy of repatriating ancient artifacts from the children of the spoilers.
To be accurate, some of the “loot” was sold, bartered, and gifted to the invaders, colonizers, and merchants. And some of it was even discarded by internal nationalistic forces for political reasons (think Cultural Revolution). So, should the loot be returned? How should one arrive at what is fair? What if they cannot afford the fair compensation? The Chinese, of course, can afford it.
In my opinion: If the loot is human remains (e.g. American Indian) then it should be returned without compensation. If the loot is anything else, then it should be put to auction for the highest bidder to prevail and the seller should receive the proceeds. And if the current political region of origin for the loot is unable to afford the hammer price, then they will just have to wait until they can afford it. In the meantime artifacts can remain in the museums where they are.
Want to read the latest on the Chinese effort to repatriate their cultural artifacts? – click.