Thursday, June 4, 2009

I don't usually do politics, but...

My husband directed me to this item on his news blog:

Russian Notes
"Yale University, which displays a Van Gogh painting seized after the
Bolshevik revolution of 1918, was sued by a man who claims he’s the
descendant of the former Russian owner and the artwork rightfully
belongs to him."

Of course, I followed the link, which took me to this reported response by Yale: Yale, which sued Konowaloff in March seeking a court ruling that it’s the rightful owner, says sales of artwork
“nationalized” by the Soviet Union were valid

Now I have to admit I didn't do any further research, and therefore I won't assign blame or comment on the validity of Yale's rights to the painting.

I do want to draw a picture, however.

Say you've worked very hard to be able to afford the kind of home you've always dreamed of. You fill it with the kind of artwork you desire, honestly and rightfully purchased by your hard-earned money.

Then a new administration comes into power and declares (I do not mean passes a law, which would take years of debate and would never roll in the United States), but just declares that all art is the property of the government. Regardless of who paid for it, of who labored to acquire it, of who loved it enough to buy it.

And the entire world approves.

How fair is that?

Not fair at all. No one approved when Hitler did it. The entire world seeks to put that wrong to rights.

But it's OK when it's the Soviet Union who did it? Why?

And if you're wondering why I'm so fired up about the issue, well, it's because the same Soviet Union stole all of my grandparents property, reduced them to begging, and ultimately caused my baby aunt's death by hunger when they exiled my grandparents to a frozen labor camp.

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Jennifer Johnson said...

Hey Marsha,
First of all, your comment on the loop "Marsha gets annoyed" sounds like a great title to a book.
Second of all, I agree. The atrocities in Nazi Germany were horrid, and the world rightly agrees. But it is surprising to me about the other horrors in history which we dismiss so casually.

Tamra said...

Hey, Masha!

The US government also condones eminent domain here, when they want to construct a new freeway or when a greedy developer decides to build high rise condos.

Great rant! We need more blogs like this.

I'm sorry to hear about your auntie.

:) T.

Skhye said...

Should I even type the word "repatriation" here?


Don't get me started on how cultures justify their actions...

I think more people should get annoyed.

Mary Ricksen said...

I wish I could wave a magic wand and right all the wrongs in the world for just one day.
It seems that humans as a species, have a percentage of our population that has no heart. The lack of humanity makes me ill to consider.
So many other nationalities have suffered in similar ways. And to this day people are still suffering.
If only just for one day.

SFWriterMasha said...

Thank you all for your comments.

And Skhye, don't even start on the repatriations! Because I have things to say about that, too!

And Tamra, while I understand the principle behind Eminent Domain, it's a great one for abuse.

But mostly, my rant is directed at the Educated and Enlightened Institution of Yale.

They should know better. They are a Repository of Knowledge, after all!

Are they not?


Hywela Lyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hywela Lyn said...

You're so right Masha, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about Yale, yes it really should know better. Governments the world over though, seem to change the rules to suit themselves. In the UK, the 'planners' will quite happily refuse to allow a private person the right to build a home for themselves on their own small piece of land, while flouting their own rules and allowing supermarkets and speculative companies to build monstrosities on so called 'green belt' land. The world is a very unfair place, and those who wield power can be very corrupt and uncaring.

I think the case you highlighted is terrible - and just the tip of the iceberg. And what a terrible story about your grandparents and your poor little baby Aunt. I'm so sorry to hear about this. Thank you for highlighting this issue, The more people are aware of such atrocities, the more chance there is for eventual change.

Kathye Quick said...

The problem is with all governments and - God Bless America - even ours.

There will always be people in the world with the attitude "if I can't have it, neither can you."

My own home county here in New Jersey took land from my husband's family of farmers to create a park. Now it is a beautiful park, but if you want the land, pay fair market value - don't condemn it and give a pitence for it as though it was a token handout.

But all in all, we have to try to be true to ourselves and change the world one person at a time.

Wow - that's going to take a really long time.

I have to agree - Marsha Gets Annoyed" would be a great book title.

Skhye said...

LOL, Masha. If I said a thing about repatriation, I'd have to write a dissertation on the human animal. Your blog just isn't ready for that. ;) Alas, human nature continues to be the greatest enigma of them all!

SFWriterMasha said...

Well, I have this little project at the back of my mind involving my mother's memoir (written in Russian). I'm thinking of putting some of it out in blog form.

I just can't figure out how to get started.

Did I ever say how much I hate transitions? Transitions from nothing to something are the worst.

I really hate transitions.