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National Public Radio (NPR) announced it was breaking its long-standing 4th of July tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence to instead discuss “what equality means.”
For the past 33 years on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” NPR staff have celebrated America’s birthday by reading the founding document. However, co-host Leila Fadel announced on Twitter that this year they were scrapping that tradition to analyze what Thomas Jefferson meant by “all men are created equal.”
What followed was an 11-minute discussion between two historians and host Steve Inskeep on the steps Americans took in fighting for equal rights for all men and women in this country.
In the broadcast, the NPR host tied the fight for equality to recent rulings by the Supreme Court, like Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“And many of our debates on this July 4th turn on what equality means. What voting rules really give equal access to the ballot. Do abortion laws give a woman equal control of her body? At what point is a fetus entitled to equal rights?” Inskeep asked.
Without providing explanation, Inskeep said that Republicans wanted “unequal voting power” and connected that idea to the “global move toward authoritarian rule.”
“For some people equality is out of style. Some political progressives prefer the term, ‘equity.’ Some Republicans in Texas and Colorado have called for unequal voting power, giving more weight to conservative voters. The global move toward authoritarian rule opposes equality, asserting that some people are more equal than others,” the NPR host said.
The broadcast ended on a hopeful note, with historian Annette Gordon-Reed arguing that “far more people in the country” have “embraced” the principle that all men are created equal.
However, NPR promoted the idea equal rights were under attack on Twitter.
Last year, NPR reluctantly kept up the traditional declaration reading but decried the document as holding “flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies.”
The media outlet suggested at the time that the 2020 riots surrounding the death of George Floyd tainted how we should view the Declaration.
“But after last summer’s protests and our national reckoning on race, the words in the document land differently. It famously declares ‘that all men are created equal’ even though women, enslaved people and Indigenous Americans were not held as equal at the time,” an article that accompanied the Independence Day “Morning Edition” broadcast stated.