A fairly unbalanced Park Service

News & Politics

What's the matter? Too caught up in the latest news from Iraq, the Supreme Court vacancy, and the outing of Karl Rove in the treasonous Valerie Plame affair to notice a little controversy over at the National Park Service?

A while back the NPS approved a creationist text for sale at the Grand Canyon, displayed biblical plaques despite warnings that it might be unconstitutional, and blocked a memo alerting park rangers that creationism had no scientific merit. So right away we're not talking about the most criticism-resistant government agency.

The latest whine is from conservatives who demand that a decade-old video dedicated to, and available for viewing at, the Lincoln Memorial is in need of an edit as it doesn't adequately portray the conservative Christian perspective.

The video was made by a high school class in Arizona (not exactly your front line of attack in the culture war).

In the midst of what's largely an anti-slavery and 60s Civil Rights recap, the video very briefly includes a few abortion rights posters and gay civil rights banners. There's also a split-second shot of a poster advocating for the Brady Bill (though I'll bet dollars to donuts that not a kid in ten could tell you what the Brady Bill's about). Critics claim, somewhat comically, that: "The video gave the impression that Lincoln would have supported abortion and homosexuality."

They moaned to Bush who, according to statements we have no reason to doubt, did nothing. Shortly after the administration leaned on nobody, your tax-funded park service went on a $20,000 spending spree to purchase footage of pro-war rallies, anti-abortion protests and pro-gun iconography.

Rev Louis Sheldon, head of the flaccidly named "Traditional Values Coalition" complained that: "Absent from the video were any Promise Keepers marches or Marches for Jesus rallies at the capital. The video was totally skewed to present only a leftist viewpoint."

Umm, Sheldon, the Martin Luther King-led Civil Rights movement was, to a great extent, a march for Jesus. But his problem is that it was a march for Jesus rally and not a March for Jesusâ„¢ rally. Silly comments aside, the inclusion of conservative talking points circa 2005 would not make for what the Park Service calls, in our increasingly meaningless language, a balanced video.

Uh uh. By all means, if you want to do a hatchet job on a high school class project, do go and shove some era-appropriate pro-gun, pro-war, anti-abortion messages in there. The catch is, it has to be from 1994 or earlier and it must reflect the numbers. So, for example if the march on Washington for women's health drew 1 million and the counter-protests drew 75, your on-screen representation must reflect that. So, given the roughly 10 seconds of pro-choice placards, that makes for a clip of approximately .0075 seconds in length. And so on.

But I do have another idea for achieving meaningful "balance": Include footage of the ideological godfathers of the modern conservative.

Show them promoting the Vietnam war and opposing the integration of public schools. Show conservatives loathe to repeal the last laws criminalizing "mixed race" marriage (in the 60s). Then sprinkle in some stock photos of their opposition to women's suffrage -- not to mention slavery. That, would make for a balanced video.

But let's do this: Let's make that other video that the Reverend wants with the supposedly Christian groups declaring that Jesus is not down with gays, promoting war in Iraq and all the rest. Then let's stick it in an air-tight vault so nobody can see it for 50 years. Afterward, when our culture progresses -- as it always does -- we'll take it out and ask those 2055 conservatives what they think of their ancestors.

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