The Non-Political Reasons I'm Not A Fan Of Hobby Lobby


Hobby Lobby winds up in the news way more than a craft store ever should, which is never.

I get that people disagree with the ownership's conservative political views and that's what usually gets them into the news cycle. That's not what bugs me.

There are plenty of other reasons I don't like the place. For starters, I hate the name because it makes no sense. They went with Hobby Lobby because it rhymes. It's not a corridor or hall connected with a larger room or series of rooms and used as a passageway or waiting room, and it's definitely not a group of persons engaged in lobbying especially as representatives of a particular interest group. It's a craft store!

I also don't like that boring ass Helvetica font sign of theirs. It's just so lazy from a creative point-of-view, and shouldn't creativity be a craft store's strong suit? 

But the latest reason I'm not a Hobby Lobby fan is the revelation that they have enough bread coming through the door to purchase antiquities.

Per NPR:

A 3,500-year-old clay tablet that was looted from an Iraqi museum 30 years ago is headed back to Iraq.

Known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, it was acquired by the company Hobby Lobby in 2014 for display in the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. U.S. authorities seized it in 2019, saying it was stolen and needed to be returned.

Excuse me? Doesn't that store sell fake flowers and dowel rods? How the hell are they in the business of dealing stolen antiquities let alone ones that were acquired on the up and up?

First, let's talk about the difference between "antiques" and "antiquites." Antiques old things that anyone can buy like rotary phones or old gasoline cans. Meanwhile, antiquities are really old things that have some importance when to history like George Washington's teeth or Napoleon's hat and rich people buy them to show off to other rich people.

The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet falls into the antiquity camp. A clay tablet that has managed to stick around for millennia undropped and unshattered is pretty impressive. Etched into it in ancient Sumerian is a portion of the epic poem "Gilgamesh" which is believed to have been written 4,000 years ago (I think it'd be funny if we mistranslated it, and it turned out to actually be a filthy joke from the ancient world; maybe the Mesopotamian version of "The Aristocrats"). 

This tablet was allegedly looted from an Iragi museum 30 years ago. This sort of thing has happened many times throughout history. I get that it's wrong, but I never really got why it riles people up as much as it does (but it should be noted that I'm a moron, so I'm sure can explain to me why it's a big deal). There are people who don't seem bothered with invading another country and the war/bloodshed that ensues,  but if you take their paintings and ancient artifacts then it's a bridge too far.

Regardless of how wrong it is, stealing from the enemy after you defeat the is warfare's version of a touchdown dance. Always has been. Allied forces took a bunch of paintings from the Nazis in WWII and some believe that's wrong and they should be returned. Personally, I think the Nazi's actions during that period makes the unlawful repossession of some Rembrandts a drop in the bucket when it comes to the punishments they deserved, but, again, that's just me.

Whatever the case may be, the fact of the matter is the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet wound up on the international antiquities market, into the hands of Hobby Lobby's top brass, then into the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. 

I'm not mad that Hobby Lobby had the tablet, and I'm not mad that they put it in their Museum of The Bible. I'm mad that a craft store has the money to buy antiquities and even cause international incidents.

Has Michael's ever pissed off the Russians? Has Jo-Ann Fabrics ever drawn the ire of the North Koreans? Not to my knowledge, but Hobby Lobby has caused a problem for U.S./Iraqi relations. Allow me to reiterate: THIS IS A STORE THAT SELLS PAINT BRUSHES AND PILLOWS THAT SAY THINGS LIKE "BLESS THIS MESS" AND "DON'T BOTHER ME UNTIL I'VE HAD MY COFFEE!" 

Does this bug me more than it should? Perhaps. Frankly, I'm happy to hear that this piece of history is going back where it belongs. It's just the right thing to do.

But call me old-fashioned; I just yearn for the days when antiquities were owned by kings and queens, oil barons, and eccentric tech entrepreneurs, not craft store magnates.

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