by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. | Heritage Foundation | December 2, 2008
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 opens Dec. 2, is a 580,000-square-foot cavern dug at the foot of the U.S. Capitol at a cost of $621 million (almost nine 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 on-line 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.
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