Some Donald Trump supporters reacted strongly to NPR’s tradition of reciting the Declaration of Independence on Twitter, apparently believing that the network was criticizing the president or, even worse, calling for revolution. It’s the second time in two years it’s happened.
As Business Insider reported last year, National Public Radio (NPR) has, for decades, read the Declaration of Independence on its “Morning Edition” show. In 2017, the publicly-funded network updated the tradition for a 21st-century audience, by tweeting out the Declaration, a couple of sentences at a time (due to the social media platform’s 140-character limit).
A few people, unaware of the context, took it completely the wrong way. Here’s just one example.
“So, NPR is calling for revolution. Interesting way to condone the violence while trying to sound ‘patriotic.’ Your implications are clear.”
Others reacted with horror that a publicly-funded network was criticizing Donald Trump and calling him a “tyrant,” and called for the end of public funding for the organization. At least one believed NPR’s Twitter account had been hacked. Others invoked Barack Obama’s departure from the White House. At least one other responded with “fake news.”
As these things always do, it eventually blew over and became old news.
Until yesterday, when it happened again.
At 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, NPR began the tradition by posting the opening line of the Declaration. Twitter users, remembering last year’s debacle, stepped in to note their anticipation of a repeat.
It didn’t take long.
One user failed to understand Thomas Jefferson’s attempt at florid prose.
Another user thought NPR was advocating for revoking the Constitution.
Another user was apparently aware of the context but still thought it untoward of NPR to tweet the Declaration.
And the specter of Barack Obama’s presidency was once again brought up.
At least one Twitter user, when told what was happening, still held firm in their belief that NPR was up to no good.
Twitter confusion aside, the Declaration of Independence is still misunderstood by many Americans, according to The Denver Post.
Many, for example, believe that the Continental Congress actually declared independence on the date of the document, July 4. In fact, Congress voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2. The document bears the date of July 4 because that is when Congress voted to approve Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration.
Further, some Americans believe that the Declaration was signed on July 4. That actually didn’t happen until August 2, and even then, not all of the signatories whose names appear on the document were there to sign that day. Some didn’t turn up to sign until weeks or even months later.