First Nick reminds us:
For decades costumed "interpreters" or actors have roamed the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, regaling visitors with tales and stories from the period, while inside many of the restored or rebuilt structures they introduced visitors to life in the 18th century, from peruke making to 18th century cooking to gardening to the contradance.And:
Less emphasis was put on the explication of the political principles that animated many of the town's more famous residents and visiting burgesses, and more on "life as it was." Which is not to say that visitors did not go away without a better knowledge of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and the rival Randolph and Lee families, to mention a few of the men who once were familiar with Duke of Gloucester Street, the mile-long thoroughfare between the College of William and Mary and the colonial Capitol.But things are changing:
Today, however, in 2007, visitors go away with less of a knowledge of those men, their causes, and their time, and a skewed one, as well - a politically correct one. The rot began to set in and spread late in the last century. What has helped to accelerate the decomposition, among other cultural and political influences, is that Colonial Williamsburg now receives federal money.Unfortunately, there is going to be a celebration of and wallowing in, all of the political correctness.
When it was a purely private, "not for profit" foundation, depending on donations, endowments, bequests and tourist revenue, it did not need to abide by the Civil Rights Act, or the Equal Opportunity Act, or any other egalitarian legislation intended to usurp and regulate private dealings between individuals and organizations, between employers and employees.
For example, now visitors leave with the impression that there were indeed female footmen and coach drivers, women coopers and carpenters, women fifers and drummers, female "militia persons," and so on, without any attempt by the Foundation or its employees to correct that impression or to even hint at the true, male-defined character of the period.
This is one consequence of taking federal bread - and having to sing the federal song. And it illustrates just one way in which the policymakers of Colonial Williamsburg contradict and ultimately betray the Foundation's decades-old mission and watchword: "That the future may learn from the past." To be willing to falsify the past is to be willing to falsify the present. George Orwell dramatized the motive behind and the consequences of that policy in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The climax of the celebration of the beginning of what the Founders more than 150 years later would deem a republic, however, will not be a recognition of that unprecedented political feat, but the "World Forum on the Future of Democracy," to take place between September 16 and 18.He then provides a list of these invitees which include some of the most collectivist and statist intellectuals on the planet.
According to the August 14th Colonial Williamsburg Newsletter, an employee in-house publication, "The World Forum will bring together noted international and national scholars on democracy, as well as leading government officials, political practitioners, advocates and commentators who have played a role in democracy's advance.
I recommend reading the whole thing for it also discusses the rewriting of how America is supposed to be a democracy instead of a republic. Nick also identifies another principle: "To be willing to falsify the past is to be willing to falsify the present."
Update: corrected a typo.