A Doctored Photo, A Doctored Record

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryIt seems that the poison of partisanship has reached even into the echelons of America’s historical record keeping. The National Archives, which is theoretically supposed to be above the politics of the day, seems to have succumbed to this partisan poison. One photograph of the first Women’s March held in 2017 was purposefully blurred by personnel at the National Archives to remove words that were seen as “obscene” and words that were seen as criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump. To put it mildly, the photographer who took this photo was incensed—this was definitely censorship at its worst. The Washington Post broke this story, and at first the National Archives defended its decision to do this.

When tens of thousands of people came out in mass protests against this form of censorship, and the news media jumped down their throats, the National Archives made an official apology and said it would conduct an inquiry over this form of censorship. It will have to do better than that. This act was not just doctoring a photo, it was doctoring history. This is the one thing the National Archives is supposed to be above. It simply MUST document history no matter how controversial, no matter how partisan it gets. In my commentaries, I can state my opinion and then move on from there. When I do the news, however, I have to document what was done and what was said no matter whether I agree with it or not. My role is that of neutral observer. The National Archives is supposed to do the same.

When one side, regardless of what that side is, starts fiddling around with the national records of the United States government and recorded history, then we as a country and a nation have abandoned the whole concept of being a multi-party democracy and then head down the slippery slope of one-party authoritarian rule that we see in countries like China and Russia. Our country should NOT become the same as the opponents that we as a nation and a people are against. If our institutions head this direction, then we become no different from the enemies we fight. Thank goodness there are many Americans who feel the same way as I do, and are ready to fight for this principle.

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