Our Unprotected Heritage

Thomas King attempted to wrestle with a problem that is not limited to historical preservation laws. Many laws and even amendments are not fully enforced. The lack of public knowledge and complex and vague verbiage in the law are all problems with almost every law in the United States. Take for example the Civil Rights Act’s of the 1960’s, the general public is under the impression that these laws fixed racial inequality. It takes very little research to stumble on to the fact that class differences still exist. King argued the same thing. That most people believe there are laws put in place to protect their heritage, but once an organization attempts to use those laws, they find themselves unprotected. This does not take away from the fact the poor enforcement is of heritage laws is any less of problem, but his arguments are not new. His pointing fingers game at the Bush administration is childish. I believe by now everyone understands that Bush and republican congress are responsible for several bad decisions, even Idaho republicans are embarrassed about their reign of terror for eight years. However, pointing fingers does not really get results. King gives strong examples of why there are problems with the law and his resolutions are same resolutions that everyone provides for a broken laws. Public support, clarifying the laws, get presidential support, “tell the agencies to clean up their act” (his suggestions here are extremely complex taking away from the simple process), reworking the regulations, and change in law.[1] Great! Now how do we convince the government to do this? The people? Ok, how do you get the people involved? There has to be enough incentive for a majority of the public to be involved. For some it will be the cultural heritage that is being taken, but as King so bluntly states unless you have the money he can not help you. So how do we get the “ordinary” person involved? I honestly believe that to remedy several legal issues with the United States; more public involvement is needed, but the real issue comes down to how. How do we get the public involved? Will simplifying the laws make the public anymore willing to read them?  Overall the book had great points about the problems with the heritage laws, good examples to prove his points and justify his finger pointing at the Bush administration, but it was frustrating that these solutions to the problem of law are always impossible to implement. It would be nice to see these solutions working at a smaller level and how they were able to put them in operation before assuming these are the right answers.


[1] Thomas P. King, Our Unprotected Heritage: Whitewashing thr Destruction of Our Cultural and Natural Environment, (Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2009), 161.

One thought on “Our Unprotected Heritage”

  1. I agree with you that a lack of public knowledge and jargon are problems with a vast majority of the laws in the United States. It seems like the dilemmas King points out in respect to NEPA and NHPA are but reflections of a much bigger problem.

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