Some thought NPR was spread­ing “pro­pa­ganda,” but it was the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Amy B Wang

For about 20 min­utes Tues­day, NPR trav­eled back to 1776.

To echo its 29-year on-air tra­di­tion,the pub­lic ra­dio net­work’s main Twit­ter ac­count tweeted out the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, line by line.

There — in 113 con­sec­u­tive posts, in 140char­ac­ter in­cre­ments — was the text of the trea­sured found­ing doc­u­ment of the United States, from its soar­ing open­ing to its sear­ing in­dict­ments of King Ge­orge III’s “ab­so­lute tyranny” to its very last sig­na­ture.

Who could have taken is­sue with such a pa­tri­otic ex­er­cise, done in honor of the na­tion’s birth­day?

Quite a few peo­ple, it turned out. Per­haps it was the Found­ing Fathers’ cap­i­tal­iza­tion of ran­dom words or the sen­tence frag­ments into which some of the Dec­la­ra­tion’s most rec­og­niz­able lines were bro­ken. But plenty of Twit­ter users re­acted an­grily to the thread, ac­cus­ing NPR of spam­ming them — or, worse, try­ing to push an agenda.

“Se­ri­ously, this is the dumb­est idea I have ever seen on twit­ter,” a Twit­ter user named Dar­ren Mills said af­ter NPR had only got­ten as far as the Dec­la­ra­tion’s date­line. “Lit­er­ally no one is go­ing to read 5000 tweets about this trash. this is why you’re go­ing to get de­funded” — (@dar­ren_mills)

One user won­dered if NPR’s so­cial-me­dia ac­counts had been hacked, and the net­work lost at least one fol­lower who called the tweets “spam.”

“In case you’re miss­ing it, looks like @NPR has been hacked, tweet­ing like crazy!” — @Track­er­in­blue

“This is spam I get alerts for NPR tweets be­cause they are im­por­tant My de­vice is alarm­ing non­stop. un­fol­low­ing.” — @btra­van_IT

The blow­back in­creased when the tweets reached the por­tion of the Dec­la­ra­tion that out­lined, in un­spar­ing de­tail, all the ways Bri­tain’s King Ge­orge III had wronged the colonies.

“He has ob­structed the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, by re­fus­ing his assent to laws for es­tab­lish­ing ju­di­ciary pow­ers,” read one line.

“A Prince whose char­ac­ter is thus marked by ev­ery act which may de­fine a Tyrant, is un­fit to be the ruler of a free peo­ple,” read an­other.

Some peo­ple — pre­sum­ably still in the dark about NPR’s July Fourth ex­er­cise — as­sumed those lines were ref­er­ences to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“So, NPR is calling for rev­o­lu­tion. In­ter­est­ing way to con­done the vi­o­lence while try­ing to sound ‘pa­tri­otic.’ Your im­pli­ca­tions are clear.” — @JustEs­rafel

“Pro­pa­ganda is that all you know how? Try sup­port­ing a man who wants to do some­thing about the In­jus­tice in this coun­try #drain­ingth­eswamp,” tweeted one user whose ac­count has since been deleted but whose mes­sages were cap­tured by Win­nipeg Free Press re­porter Melissa Martin.

Up­wor­thy writer Parker Mol­loy took images of sev­eral more in­dig­nant replies to NPR, in­clud­ing one who told the me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion to “Please stop. This is not the right place.”

By Wed­nes­day morn­ing, many of the replies above had been deleted. How­ever, at least one Twit­ter user ad­mit­ted he had “screwed up” and apol­o­gized to NPR.

“I Tweeted a VERY dumb com­ment. But ask your­selves; if read to the av­er­age Amer­i­can, would they know that you were read­ing the DOI? I do now.” — @JustEs­rafel

The Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence is, of course, one of the coun­try’s most im­por­tant doc­u­ments, adopted at the Sec­ond Con­ti­nen­tal Congress on July 4, 1776. The text and pur­pose of the Dec­la­ra­tion would likely be rec­og­niz­able to those who have ap­plied for U.S. cit­i­zen­ship, be­cause ques­tions about the doc­u­ment ap­pear on the nat­u­ral­iza­tion test.

U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices has an ex­ten­sive list of study ma­te­ri­als and other Dec­la­ra­tion-re­lated re­sources for prospec­tive cit­i­zens.

NPR’s “Morn­ing Edi­tion” has had a nearly three-decade-long tra­di­tion of broad­cast­ing a read­ing of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence on July Fourth each year. More than two dozen NPR jour­nal­ists par­tic­i­pated in this year’s read­ing.

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