American Documents Now Come with ‘Trigger Warnings’ on Natl. Archives Website

(USA Features) Digital copies of Americans’ founding documents, in addition to others of historical nature in the online catalog of the National Archives, now come with “trigger warnings” to alert readers that they could contain what some consider to be “harmful language.”

The changes appear to be tied to the release, without fanfare, of a report from a National Archives racism task force that recommended the department provide “context” for all historical materials, the Daily Wire reported.

Digital copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, most notably, now feature a ‘Harmful Language Alert,” which appears at the top of the page, and directs users to a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) statement on “potentially harmful content,'” the outlet continued.

The agency does not say why the Constitution, Bill of Rights, or the Declaration were included in the warning. However, the NARA statement points to documents and historical materials as including “harmful language” when:
  • 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;

  • demonstrate bias and exclusion in institutional collecting and digitization policies.

The warnings are only one of several alleged solutions to providing American historical documents to an increasingly “diverse community,” according to the NARA statement.

It also said that the warnings are part of an “institutional commitment” to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“The Catalog and web pages contain some content that may be harmful or difficult to view,” NARA said in a statement in late July.

“NARA’s records span the history of the United States, and it is our charge to preserve and make available these historical records,” the statement continued.

“As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions. In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved for their historical significance,” it added.

Earlier this summer, Fox News reported on another, similar development:

In an exclusive report out Sunday, Fox News noted that a “little noticed” report from a National Archives task force on racism suggested the building, where America’s founding documents are displayed, was an example of “structural racism” and suggested major changes to how the Constitution and other notable records are presented in order to provide “context.”

The group also reportedly suggested that the National Archive’s portrayal of individual founding fathers was too positive.

One social media user said it was outrageous that the country’s founding documents must have a trigger warning.

But NARA responded to the user by saying that the warning is “not connected to any specific record, but appears at the top of the page while you are using the online Catalog.”

The warning does appear at the top of other online documents, the Daily Wire reported, to include the “miscellaneous” papers of the first Continental Congress as well as the Articles of Confederation, the precursor to the Constitution, as well as an institutional description of the Continental Congress.