The Constitution's 'harmful content'

Two essays.

Ronald T. Trowbridge writes:

No, no, no!  Say it isn't so: the National Archives places the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence under the heading "Harmful Language Alert."  It trigger-warns that such documents may "reflect racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes; be discriminatory towards or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion and more."

The National Archives' racism task force claimed in April that the Archives Rotunda, which houses the founding documents, is an example of "structural racism."  

It was a young Hillsdale College student, Haley Strack, who discovered and revealed to the public on September 8 the National Archives' smear of the Constitution and other revered documents.  She did so in "National Archives Slaps 'Harmful Content' Warning on Constitution, All Other Founding Documents."

Times have changed.  In the late 1980s, I was staff director of the presidential and bipartisan Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, chaired by Chief Justice Warren Burger, whom I served as what he called his "chief of staff."  We didn't know that we were championing a document that the National Archives would later declare as having harmful content and as falling within the category of racism.  Serving on the commission were Democrats Rep. Lindy Boggs, Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Sen. Dennis DeConcini, and Republicans Rep. Philip Crane, Sen. Mark Hatfield, and Sen. Strom Thurmond.  I can assure readers that these political leaders revered the Constitution, not even beginning to think it needed a trigger warning.  The chief justice, as chairman, would not allow any member to politicize the commission.  No one even tried — not even Strom Thurmond or Ted Kennedy.

Chief Justice Burger wrote in the foreword to the commission's edition of the Constitution: "This Constitution was not perfect; it is not perfect today even with amendments, but it has continued longer than any other written form of government."  He agreed with British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli that "the Constitution was the most remarkable political document ever struck by the hand of man."

I am reminded here of an observation by Samuel Johnson: "A man," in this egregious case the governing directors at the National Archives, "might write such stuff forever if he would abandon his mind to it."  They will rewrite history as they want it to be, in the political way they seek.

In fact, the National Archives has stated that it will work "in conjunction with diverse communities and seek to balance the preservation of this history with sensitivity to how these materials are presented to and perceived by users."

If you don't like history, just change it the way you would your shirt.

Ronald L. Trowbridge, Ph.D. is a policy fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.  He was appointed by President Reagan to the United States Information Agency and later served as chief of staff for U.S. chief justice Warren Burger.

Eric Utter writes:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently determined that America's founding documents may be "harmful or difficult" for some users to view since they reflect "outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions."  Therefore, it posted a "harmful language alert" above its online catalog of the documents.  You know, offensive documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

When users click the alert link, they are redirected to NARA's "Statement on Potentially Harmful Content," where the agency dutifully and dolefully explains that it is "[their] charge to preserve and make available these historical records."  Just doing our job, repulsive as it is, doggone it.

NARA then helpfully includes a lengthy and specific list of the types of "harmful or difficult" content that may be encountered when one reads through the documents.  It notes that some items may:

  • reflect racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes;
  • be discriminatory toward or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion, and more;
  • include graphic content of historical events such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars/terrorist acts, natural disasters, and more;
  • demonstrate bias and exclusion in institutional collecting and digitization policies.

Below the online catalog of the heinous freedom-inducing documents, NARA solemnly vows to work "in conjunction with diverse communities" so as to "balance the preservation of [America's] history with sensitivity to how these materials are presented to and perceived by users."

Earlier this year, NARA's Task Force on Racism asserted that the rotunda in NARA's own flagship building is an example of "structural racism" because it "lauds wealthy white men in the nation's founding while marginalizing BIPOC, women, and other communities."  The Task Force's report recommended that "trigger warnings" be put in place with historical content to "forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms."  The report states: "Providing an advisory notice to users gives us an opportunity to mitigate harm and contextualize the records. It creates a space to share with the public our ultimate goals for reparative description, demonstrate our commitment to the process, and address any barriers that we may face in achieving these goals."

Whew.  Where to start?  "Harmful language alert"?  For our founding documents?!  Listen to many rap music songs, and you'll hear potentially harmful language.  The lies emanating from the mainstream media and the mouths of many of our ruling elites can truly be considered harmful language.  Should the Founders not have spoken of taxation without representation and resisting arbitrary and odious British rule?  Apparently, NARA considers "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation" harmful language.

"Reparative description" is naught but a euphemism for altering history to suit one's needs, for obfuscating, selectively highlighting, inventing...lying.  Those of a leftist bent are enraged that the Founders didn't specifically mention, say, the non-binary or the LGBT community?  In the 1700s?  Guess what!  The unacknowledged truth is they didn't have to.  They did something far better and more profound.  They proclaimed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

It is impossible to be more inclusive than "all men are created equal" and are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  (Don't give me the "but they only meant 'men'" crap.  "Men" simply meant "human beings.")

That declaration was unprecedented, radical, shocking to much of the world, and more inclusive than anything ever uttered before, indicative of a society that would be more inclusive than any other society ever was.

That was the whole point.

And that inclusiveness, and those rights, were guaranteed!  Not by a man or a government made up of imperfect, fallible humans.  But by our Creator.  So they should never — could never — legitimately be taken from any of us.

The Founders knew that pure democracy had always led to chaos and the abridging of minority rights by the majority.  That's why they birthed a representative republic.  They disdained monarchy and detested tyranny and dictatorship.  Yet today, Democratic Socialists, big government champions, the Deep State — and their lying media lapdogs — think nothing of trying to strip us of our rights.  They are bringing the country ever closer to the tyranny the Founders so detested.

Democrats and progressives can literally say anything, no matter how vile and demonstrably false, and get away with it.  Yet many of these "woke" charlatans label our Founding documents as "harmful language"?!

NARA thinks these documents may somehow be "difficult" to view?

The opposite should be the case.  They inspired a nation.  And much of the world.  They gave hope to countless souls.  If anything, they should resonate more strongly today than at any time since the Civil War.

"Difficult"?  Each of us should commit to doing the "difficult" things, like pushing back and telling the truth.  No matter how great the cost may be.

 Let us vow to rescue and resuscitate the nation the Founders created.

Let us vow never to surrender.  It is fitting that we do this on 9/11.

And forevermore.

Image: Pixabay.

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