Leftist Feminist Propaganda on the National Mall?
Background: The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) currently exists online “to raise awareness and honor women’s diverse experience and achievements.” For a number of years the museum and its vocal activists have been advocating for a physical location on the National Mall. H.R. 863 would establish a committee to study the creation of that location. The committee would make recommendations on the structure and governance of the site and explore fund-raising options. NWHM alleges that no taxpayer funds would be used to commission or construct the museum. While the idea of honoring the great female leaders of American History is noble and shared by all, many conservatives are concerned about the leftist ideological implications of this legislation.
Lack of Safeguards. While NWHM claims a nonpartisan agenda, there is no mechanism in place to ensure that the museum is not used as a platform to promote liberal propaganda (even if that museum is still in its infancy). The women typically celebrated by federally monitored or federally commissioned institutions are of the “progressive era” or the “sexual liberation movement” (consider particularly the characters and events promulgated by Smithsonian institutions or nationalized educational programs). These figures glorify the elements of women’s history that have furthered disrespect for human life, destruction of the family unit and general harm to the wellbeing of women. As the CEO of the Concerned Women for America said in an open letter to Congress:
To indoctrinate American children, who visit the Nation’s capital, with leftist views is so distasteful that within this climate we respectfully decline our own museum. We would prefer that students visit the other 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries to hear about women’s history than to have one that propagates a false narrative.
Questionable Figures Promoted. A brief survey of NWHM’s website reveals the class of women, and by extension, the types of values, that the proposed museum intends to promote. Women who have celebrated traditional, conservative or family values are outnumbered by those espousing progressive, feminist ideologies. For example, the NWHM would extol Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and a noted advocate of sterilization and eugenics. They reference “free love” enthusiast Victoria Woodhull, who equated marriage with “forced prostitution,” over 20 times. And of course, no tribute to progressivism would be complete without proper deference to Sandra Fluke, anti-life activist and supporter of federally funded contraception. These values are disproportionately reflected in the NWHM agenda, not only doing a disservice to traditional ideals but actively harming the burgeoning value systems of all the young people who will look to the museum as a source of history.
Funding. Supporters of this legislation cling to the point that private funding will be used for every step of implementation. If passed, the Congressional committee would be required to compile a fundraising plan that provides for public contributions, but said plan would never prohibit federal funding. The Smithsonian Institution, for instance, receives 65% of its funding from the government ($805 million in FY2014). In all likelihood, taxpayer dollars will be necessary to sustain an institution that perpetuates a one-sided and damaging narrative about the women’s movement in America.