501 Laws: Crimes against Culture
“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.” Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Crimes against culture include the suppression of language, literature, humor, songs, cuisine, clothing styles, and social traditions. Colonialism, occupation, and alien domination suppress native cultures, denigrating local languages, arts, and habits. Proselytization disparages native creeds. The French steal the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the English take away the Rosetta Stone from Egypt and Kohi-Noor from the Mughals. After decades of delay, Yale University finally agrees to return the artifacts it has misappropriated from Machu Picchu. The Taliban destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Wars, decay, and poverty damage the monuments and structures that constitute world heritage. Minority cultures face suppression in majoritarian regimes. Even democracies apply legal pressure on minorities to speak the language of the majority and adopt the culture of the dominant population. English-only laws perpetuate cultural suppression requiring millions of Spanish-speaking citizens to favor English over their mother tongue in their ancestral lands taken through wars. Cultures are more durable than nationalities.