The Corner

Washington, P.C.

The brand new, underground Capitol Visitor Center opens to the public tomorrow. Cost to taxpayers: $621 million. I checked it out last month and wrote about it for the current issue of NRODT (subscribe!). The article is called “Washington, P.C.: The new Capitol Visitor Center has a shaky grasp of history,” and here’s how it starts:

Carpenters follow a simple rule: Measure twice, cut once. The builders of the brand-new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) might have benefited from a similar adage about checking facts before etching them into stone. Just a few weeks before the opening of their $621 million underground complex on December 2, they were trying to correct a dumb mistake. A major display misidentified the nation’s motto as “E pluribus unum.” In reality, the national motto is “In God We Trust,” as Congress established by law in 1956. Anyone who looks closely at the panel in the front of the exhibition hall will see the temporary plaster fix-up job.

Confusion about the motto is the type of innocent blunder a person might make while playing a casual game of Trivial Pursuit, but not the kind of error you’d expect to see chiseled into the hallowed halls of the Capitol. And some conservatives worry that this is more than a routine case of federal incompetence. “There’s a terrible movement to rewrite our history and obscure our faith,” says J. Randy Forbes, a Republican congressman from Virginia who chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus, about the CVC.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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