National Archives Adds ‘Harmful Language Alert’ to Founding Documents

National Archives Adds ‘Harmful Language Alert’ to Founding Documents

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has added a “harmful language alert” to the U.S. Constitution, as well as other founding documents on its website, because they “may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions.”

After much criticism, NARA issued a statement saying that it “seek[s] to balance the preservation of … history with sensitivity to how … materials are presented to and perceived by users.”

It also explained its reasoning behind implementing the alert on its website, saying some items 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; include graphic content of historical events such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars/terrorist acts, natural disasters and more; [or] demonstrate bias and exclusion in institutional collecting and digitization policies.”

NARA was established by Congress in 1934 to preserve and protect documentation of American heritage.

While this recent move has stirred up controversy, many say it’s not unexpected.

In June, NARA’s racism task force claimed that the Archives’ rotunda, which physically houses founding documents, is an example of “structural racism.” The task force called for “trigger warnings” around many displays—including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights—as well as a “reimagining” of the rotunda to “dialogue” about the “mythologization” of the nation’s founding.

Michael Brown, host of the syndicated “Line of Fire” radio program and president of the FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, called NARA’s attempts to cater to the “woke” liberalists an “extraordinary example of revisionist history at its worse, as if our founding documents were racist or bigoted in their very essence, or as if readers today needed to be ‘protected’ from their influence. 

“While none of us believe that our founders were perfect,” he told Decision, “we are deeply indebted to their wisdom and vision, including their frequent dependence on Scripture and Scriptural concepts. If we rewrite our history (or, fundamentally ‘rethink’ our history), we do a terrible disservice to future generations of Americans, tarnishing our past and disconnecting us from some of the very things that made America great.”

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