National Public Radio (NPR) has a 32-year tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on-air on Independence Day, but this year, it issued a controversial warning beforehand that quickly sparked backlash.
In the on-air warning, online article, and Twitter thread, NPR prefaced its July 4th reading of the document by calling it “a document with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies,” noting: “It famously declares ‘that all men are created equal’ even though women, enslaved people and Indigenous Americans were not held as equal at the time.”
NPR also noted that the document included “a racist slur about Native Americans.”
“After last summer’s protests and our national reckoning on race, the words in the document land differently,” NPR noted.
“The declaration is a document with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies. It also laid the foundation for our collective aspirations, our hopes for what America could be,” the outlet concluded before the annual reading.
The document also includes a racist slur against Indigenous Americans.
Author David Treuer, who is Ojibwe, says there is a lot of diversity of opinion and thought among Native Americans — a community of more than 5 million people — about the document’s words. pic.twitter.com/K64UXhMKDA
— NPR (@NPR) July 4, 2021
In this thread of the Declaration of Independence, you can see a document with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies.
It also laid the foundation for this country’s collective aspirations — the hopes for what America could be. pic.twitter.com/znLSGKWLaj
— NPR (@NPR) July 4, 2021
“On one hand we are keenly aware of the ways in which this country has attempted to both take our homelands and to eradicate us. And yet a huge number of Native people are deeply patriotic. Native American people have fought in every war America has fought up until today. We remain committed to forcing this country to live up to its own stated ideals.” Author David Treuer, who is also Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation, told NPR.
The Declaration of Independence represents America’s founding principles and many Americans hold the document in high esteem despite the fact that some of its original language may not reflect the evolution of our country.
NPR was met with a scourge of critics on Twitter, some even calling to #DefundNPR.
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) July 5, 2021
Couldn’t we have one day… ONE DAY, to just celebrate?
— Emm Gifts (@EmmGifts) July 4, 2021
You cannot judge yesterday’s events with today’s standards.
Give the US credit for being able to evolve. Ben if it’s slowly.
We will get there.
— Juan Bobo (@objuanquenove) July 5, 2021
In 1776 there were literally zero countries on Earth where women were considered equal to men. Slavery and conquest were also nearly universal.
— Erich Hawbaker (@GrayChevyVan) July 5, 2021
And yet it started the creation of the greatest nation in history for promoting, defending, and evolving the pursuit of equality and freedom for all mankind in history. Flawed, yes, but most remarkable of all nations in history!
— Chris Summers, Ed.D. (@summers_llm) July 4, 2021
Breaking: Humans weren’t perfect 250 years ago.
Enjoying 1A and gov’t funding to shit on ‘merca is peak irony.
— John C. Guthrie (@JCarlGuth) July 4, 2021
This is like if in the year 2293, Captain Kirk went and found a book about sailing ships written in 1480 that described all the different sailing ships and then said “this book is filled with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies, as it doesn’t even mention spaceships at all.”
— Alien Solara (@AlienSolara) July 5, 2021
The Constitution has amendments. It’s a updatable document. This was the beginning, but hey whatever helps you “celebrate”
— YourMuslimUncle (@MuslimUncle) July 5, 2021
The past is found guilty by the laws of the present
— Conservatism = Common Sense (@dbm3000) July 5, 2021
Yep… the Declaration of Independece and the newly formed United States were far from perfect. But today, let’s celebrate what makes the U.S. great instead of pointing out its flaws.
— Shannon-10 (that/bitch) (@Shannon_10Ten) July 4, 2021
While many Americans criticized NPR’s choice, a few noted that one of the greatest parts about America is the freedom to exist, for example, as a longstanding, national broadcast program and accept federal funding whilst still being able to criticize the government and the nation’s past.
In my opinion the best way to celebrate what is great about this country is to criticize it. Point out the truth including flaws at anytime without fear. It doesn’t ruin anything for me. It reminds me of how far we come but also we need to aspire to do more to improve ourselves.
— Rebecca Eilering (@rebeccaeilering) July 5, 2021
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