As an expert in the U.S. Constitution and America’s Founding, I thought I had lost the ability to be shocked by politically correct distortions of our history. Then I visited the new Capitol Visitor Center.
The just-completed Visitor Center, which opened yesterday, is a 580,000-square-foot cavern dug at the foot of the U.S. Capitol at a cost of $621 million (almost 9 times over budget).
The Capitol is a noble monument to American liberty. The neoclassical architecture is meant to be approached from afar. We are supposed to walk up vast flights of stairs to enter a magnificent rotunda, inspired to reflect on the grandeur of our self-governing republic.
Now the public will approach the Capitol underground and enter, mole-like, through the basement. What Congress has arranged for the public to be taught before they get in is a scandal.
Designed to provide “an enhanced educational experience,” the Visitor Center allows guests to make online reservations before spending time at two gift shops, enjoying a 530-seat restaurant, visiting any of 26 restrooms or watching an orientation film in one of two theaters, all in air-conditioned comfort.
The “educational” part is the Exhibition Hall, the theme of which is “E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.” The etching in marble initially referred to that phrase as the nation’s motto. Now, however, that etching is covered by a bad plaster job, because … well, “E Pluribus Unum” is not the nation’s motto. Our actual motto, “In God We Trust,” is notably absent, along with other references to faith.
Take how the exhibit treats the Northwest Ordinance, the 1787 document that signaled the beginning of America’s westward expansion. It’s selectively quoted to encourage education – carefully shorn of its opening clause: “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.”
By Matthew Spalding
The Washington Times