Lawmakers Demand National Archives Remove ‘Harmful Content’ Warnings On Founding Documents

Lawmakers Demand National Archives Remove ‘Harmful Content’ Warnings On Founding Documents

House Republicans are demanding the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) stop politicizing American heritage, weeks after the Archives slapped a “harmful content” warning on Founding-era documents including the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

Texas Rep. Brian Babin and 44 other House Republicans authored a scathing letter to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero on Tuesday. The letter called on the Archives to remove the warning that is displayed atop all online cataloged documents.

“We are deeply concerned by the National Archives Record Administration’s ‘harmful content’ warning displayed on the Archives’ cataloged website, including on seminal documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution,” the lawmakers wrote.

In July, the NARA instituted “harmful content” labels on all cataloged documents, noting that certain documents could “reflect racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes; be discriminatory towards or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion, and more,” and “include graphic content of historical events such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars/terrorist acts, natural disasters and more.”

In June, the NARA’s racism task force advocated including “trigger warnings” on documents in the Archives’ Rotunda, which houses the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. The rotunda, the task force said, is an example of “structural racism.”

“This content warning was put in place after a National Archives Task Force insisted that its records be ‘contextualized,’ and notices be made that ‘forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms,'” the letter read. “Though the task force made multiple recommendations, describing the sacred documents on which our nation was founded as ‘harmful or difficult to view’ is as bad as any one of the foolish capitulations to cancel culture we have ever seen.”

The National Archives, which exists to compile and protect American heritage, is disserving the country by labeling Founding-era documents “harmful.” Politicizing governing documents “obscures the truth,” the Republicans wrote.

The truth is, “that these documents were written to protect individual liberties and fundamental rights, and that the nation they established grew into the world’s greatest democracy,” the letter states. 

Recently, Sen. James Lankford and Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer, who chairs the House Republican Policy Committee, decried the Archives’ politicized warning, saying the NARA’s actions “effectively abandon” founding documents like the Constitution.

Haley Strack is an intern at The Federalist and a student at Hillsdale College studying politics and journalism. Follow her on Twitter @StrackHaley or reach her at [email protected]
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