We must now refrain from calling ancient dead Egyptians “mummies” for fear we might offend them. Yes, really.
It seems the British Museum has banned the term “mummy” when referring to mummies out of respect for the deceased mummified person. They say the term is dehumanizing to those who died, even though they died literally thousands of years ago and probably don’t give a flip for what term is used in a language that didn’t even exist when they were embalmed.
It’s also worth noting the term “mummy” has been in use since at least 1610 and is derived from the Arabic word “mummiya,” meaning “wax” or “bitumen.” It refers to the blackish-brown resin used to embalm the dead in ancient Egypt and which produced the characteristic dried, shriveled appearance of the bodies.
So if the term “mummy” isn’t acceptable, then what shall we call these ancient embalmed people? The new politically acceptable term is “mummified person” or “mummified remains.” Well thank goodness for this change. Up until now these mummified remains were probably rolling in their graves (or in their museum showcases) because they were so offended.
It’s not just the British Museum that’s jumped on this bandwagon. National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh has also removed the word “mummy” from labels on its human remains.A spokeswoman said: “Where we know the name of an individual we use that, otherwise we use ‘mummified man, woman, boy, girl or person’ because we are referring to people, not objects. … The word ‘mummy’ is not incorrect, but it is dehumanizing, whereas using the term ‘mummified person’ encourages our visitors to think of the individual.”
Museum personnel are also concerned that “mummy” has entered the English lexicon as terrifying monsters in B-grade horror flicks. A spokeswoman for the Great North Museum says “legends about the mummy’s curse and movies portraying supernatural monsters … can undermine their humanity.”
Red State columnist Bob Hoge observes, “[S]hould we rename those movies, seeing as they’re hurting the feelings of the deceased? We could have, ‘The Mummified Remains Return,’ or ‘Frankenstein vs. The Ancient Egyptian Who Identifies as a Person Who Underwent a Mummifaction Procedure.’”
Personally, I would have thought that displaying the mummified remains of ancient people in a museum setting where they’re routinely gawked at by non-mummified people was more dehumanizing than merely calling them mummies in a language the mummified didn’t even speak; but then you already know I’m a cultural cretin.
Needless to say, the mockery has been strong with this ban:
- “There’s a competition going on, isn’t there, where academics have to create increasingly ridiculous proposals without anyone calling them out for just playing the game. How else could you explain this nonsense?”
- “Surely calling preserved bodies mummies is offensive to mothers?” (“Mummy” is the British equivalent to the American term “mommy.”)
- “When one of the mummies complains about hurt feelings, then maybe we can take this seriously.”
- “Tomb robbing is not respectful of the dead, either.”
- “It’s. A. Mummy. Deal with it, snowflake.”
- “These people need to find better use of their time. What is next? Reparations for the descendants of ancient Egyptians?”
- “The ancient Egyptians were slave owners, so shouldn’t the leftists want to dehumanize them?”
- “So, the proper term to be used should be: ‘Once-living person (or animal not defined as being human) that has been preserved by process of drying and wrapped up.’”
- “What are you supposed to call it? Person of long decay? Egyptian in Gauze?”
- “Besides … if they had any real respect for the dead people, they would have let them rest in peace as was intended and not dug them out and disturbed them, measured them, X-rayed them, etc.”
Finally, one person made a simple and profound observation about the new term for mummies: “We live in exhausting times.” Hard to argue with that sentiment. By the way, this virtue-signaling term is now being hawked as “woking the dead” or “retro-woke.”
In the face of how concerned officials have suddenly become about the feelings of people who were embalmed thousands of years ago, it’s highly ironic that none of them has any concern whatsoever for the constant name-calling and dehumanizing that’s taking place right now for millions of people with differing political (or medical) suasions or opinions. Amazing how wokeness advocates can pick and choose who’s worthy of victimhood versus who’s worthy of ridicule.
The general consensus is that the British Museum (among other institutions) is participating in this ridiculous virtue signaling in part to deflect from its shady past. Many famous museums justify the often-nefarious techniques they used to acquire their great treasures through the use of weasel words such as “saved” or “salvaged” or “rescued.” The truth is, many of these collections were blatantly looted from other nations and cultures through “aggression, theft and duplicity,” in the words of one critic. The British Museum in particular has been called the world’s largest receiver of stolen property.
Or, as one wit put it, “The pyramids are in Egypt because they were too heavy to move to London.”
The ethics of where and how museums obtain their displays are beyond the scope of this column. Suffice it to say changing the term “mummy” to “mummified remains” does NOT erase whatever ethically murky means these mummies came to be displayed in the first place.
My opinion? Trying to ban the term “mummy” is nothing but a big duddy.
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