Category Archive 'National Park Service'

18 Feb 2020

Our National Park Service, Delivery Source of Leftism

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George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Michael Pillsbury, in the WSJ, explains how America’s national historic sites have wound up being explained in relation to Identity Group grievances and Climate Change by people who majored in Marxism and Social Justice.

George Washington’s birthday is celebrated on Monday, so consider this thought experiment: It is 2026 and Washington and close military advisers like Alexander Hamilton return for a 250th-anniversary ride on the eight decisive battlefields where American independence was won.

At first, they might be pleasantly surprised to see the battlefields still intact. But suppose the visiting heroes lean down from their saddles to listen to the park rangers leading tours in green-and-gray uniforms. Expecting to hear a recounting of battles that formed the republic, they instead hear stories about identity politics and climate change. Hamilton, upon returning to his only home, in New York—a site that attracts thousands of visitors annually—would be taken aback to hear, as I did on a visit, park rangers editorialize that he stashed his wife there so he could carry on with his mistress in his Wall Street home.

This casual, official reinterpretation of history has alarmed many modern historians and Americans, including those like me with relatives who served at Valley Forge. In 2016, a park ranger reportedly telling tourists at Independence Hall in Philadelphia that “the Founders knew that when they left this room, what they had written wouldn’t matter very much” resulted in news articles and calls for her resignation. Rangers, however, aren’t required to stick to any script when interpreting the Revolution. Washington and Hamilton might ride on to privately owned Mount Vernon for a more authentic experience.

Traditionally, great powers trust their military forces with protecting and interpreting the sacred battlefields of their founding fathers. After the Revolutionary War, the U.S. military protected the battlefields, conducted “staff rides” to review decisions and scenarios, and encouraged private donors such as the Ladies of Mount Vernon to restore other historical places tied to Washington.

But then came the National Park Service. In the 1920s and early 1930s the NPS was a minor agency struggling for attention and already filled with what today are called environmental activists. These ideologues sought to obtain possession of the nation’s historic sites, which would raise the Park Service’s profile above that of a mere maintenance organization.

In April 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited Park Service Director Horace Albright for a Sunday drive along Skyline Drive, a new highway the Park Service was building in the mountains of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Albright had already created a “history division” and set up historical monuments. So he took advantage of this time with the president to defeat objections from the War Department, which wanted to keep the battlefields under its purview. Mere months later, by executive order, the War Department transferred 57 historical sites and, more important, the authority to interpret the history of the sites to the Park Service. Albright saw this victory as the culmination of his career.

RTWT

12 Oct 2013

National Thug Service

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C.J. Box, at Ricochet, has some unkind words about the recent behavior and long-term militarization of the National Park Service. Maybe we should be thinking about privatizing those parks. The Walt Disney Company wouldn’t let itself be used as a tool for politics and doesn’t stockpile assault rifles to be used on its customers.

The National Park Service was established in 1916 with a bill that mandated the agency “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The Roosevelt Arch at the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park is inscribed as follows: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”
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No one at that time could imagine a scenario in the future where employees of that agency — on behalf of the federal government — would be engaged in acts of strong-armed intimidation of innocent visitors enjoying parks and monuments the public owns and pays for.

If you’ve been following the news since the faux government shutdown, you’ll know I’m not exaggerating. In addition to locking up open-air monuments like the World War II Memorial and threatening to arrest 80-year-old veterans, the NPS has spent extra staff time and money (during the aforementioned “shutdown”) putting up fences and barricades on public roadways in attempts to deny Americans the pleasure of even viewing national treasures like Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, and the Grand Canyon — from the road.

One of the worst example of NPS thuggishness occurred in my neck of the woods, Yellowstone Park, where rangers ordered seniors and foreign visitors back on their tour bus and accused them of “recreating.” Not only that, the busload of guests were ordered to not venture outside of the Old Faithful Inn, lest they see the famous geyser erupt. Armed NPS rangers stood outside the doors to make sure it couldn’t happen. Some of the foreign guests thought they were under arrest, and some seniors said they’d witnessed “Gestapo tactics.”

There’s long been a sickness in the National Park Service. I once heard a ranger explain to a fellow bureaucrat in Yellowstone that the NPS could really run the place well “if there weren’t all these damned people in it.” Another time, while interviewing park law enforcement for research for a novel, I was told by the highest-ranking park cop that he thought of his rangers as a “small army” that “could hold their own.” This, while showing off his massive armory of automatic weapons, combat shotguns, and tactical SWAT gear.

How did the NPS go from an agency charged with managing our national parks “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” — to a para-military force that would do this?

Read the whole thing.


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