A park ranger giving a tour of Independence Hall in Philadelphia has become a punching bag online after a conservative website accused her of “mocking” the nation’s founders and Constitution.
The park ranger is accused of calling the nation’s founders "class elites who were just out to protect their privileged status” during a tour of Independence Hall on Monday, offending some members of the tour who snapped a photo of the ranger and went to PJMedia with the story.
PJMedia posted the ranger's photo and name under the headline “Federal Park Ranger Mocks Founders, Constitution ... While Leading Tour of Independence Hall!”
A National Park Service spokeswoman said the incident is under investigation, but that the ranger in question has never been subject to complaints before.
“Park management is gathering relevant information to investigate and will respond as appropriate to this matter,” said spokeswoman Gina Gilliam via email. “Park Management has never before received complaints about the ranger in question, but has previously received praise and compliments for her interpretive programs.”
J. Christian Adams, legal editor of PJMedia and the article’s author, said four different people contacted him with complaints about the ranger -- both from Monday's tour and from previous incidents.
"It is astounding how many times the first draft of that Constitution protected slavery," she allegedly said, before adding that “the Founders knew that when they left this room, what they had written wouldn't matter very much… [the] most important part of the Constitution written at Independence Hall was the ability to change it."
The article racked up more than 500 comments, mostly insults and calls for the guide to be fired.
Adams said he wouldn’t accuse the park ranger of being anti-American – but said that her words were “derogatory of the Constitution and the United States.”
“Independence Hall is sacred ground,” Adams said. “Tour guides at Independence Hall should be revering the founders and what they accomplished, not diminishing it.”
Adams said the tour guide made several factually inaccurate statements, but he predicted she wouldn't face any disciplinary action for her comments.
"It's a definitional divide," he said. "Her supervisors don't think anything in that story was inappropriate. They're perfectly comfortable with that garbage."
While the guide in question may have read a lot of Howard Zinn, it is unclear if she violated any National Parks Service rules or regulations. The Parks Service also said that PJMedia, who named the ranger, incorrectly identified her.
“All park rangers who lead Independence Hall tours are trained to help visitors make meaningful connections to the building and history by sharing true stories and historical facts about the founding of the United States of America,” Gilliam said via email. “Supervisors periodically attend park ranger tours to observe and provide feedback to ensure accuracy and effectiveness.”