Political Controversy

The 2016 presidential election campaign created several points of controversy among them Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct official business as Secretary of State and Donald Trumps never ending comments that raised more than a few eyebrows (whether intentional or a slip of the tongue). Whether it was a Saturday Night Live skit or a political cartoon, the world saw politics through media and art.

Since the early 1950’s International maritime law requires an obligation to render assistance to those in distress at sea without regard to their circumstances, nationality, or status. Search-and-rescue (SAR) services throughout the world largely depend on international shipping to assist anyone is distress at sea. Frequent news media reports indicate that migrants and refugees often risk their lives to travel by sea in search of better living conditions, educational opportunities, gainful employment, or to avoid wartime conflicts within their own country. Acceptance, financial ramifications for the “host country”, and whether or not to return these refugees has become a hot topic among political parties recently.

Karl Goetz, a world renowned engraver born in Germany, produced many medals in the early to middle 1900’s that reflected the current political struggles and controversies of the world. In his most famous work, you can see parallels to today’s political skirmishes. Only a handful of some of these rare, detailed, old-world craftsmanship medals survive.

Goetz’s medal, Loss of Zeppelin, depicts a dramatic WWI incident when the Zeppelin became disabled with more than 28 people on board. A British trawler, King Stephen, with a crew of 9 unarmed men came upon the Zeppelin but refused to help fearing that the Germans would overpower them and take the trawler as a prize. The inscription on 1 side of the medal proclaims, “Cursed be the British at sea and cursed be your bad conscience – help seeking shipwrecked people had to drown. February 2, 1916.”

Perhaps, this 1916 incident had some effect on the creation of international maritime laws. I believe that if Goetz were alive today, he would create a medal depicting the struggles of refugees. What do you think?