A political scientist and former professor has penned an article calling for the U.S. Constitution to be censored in order to conceal older parts that are offensive. “South Carolina’s battle flag may soon come down from the capitol flagpole, but other symbols of the Confederacy’s ideology remain in place,” writes political scientist and former University of Maryland professor Henry Bain in an editorial that has appeared in several newspapers around the country. “For example, consider the U. S. Constitution.”
Bain isn’t calling for the creation of a new Constitution, but rather says the current one should simply be edited to remove parts he considers immoral and outdated. “All copies of the Constitution promulgate detailed instructions for the recapture of slaves who have run away from their owners,” he says. “They also specify that slaves are to be counted as three-fifths of a person in the Census, giving a boost to the slave-owning states in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College.” Bain is referring, of course, to the parts of the Constitution which reflect the fact slavery was legal until after the Civil War, when the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were ratified. Slavery isn’t his only problem, as he believes in removing any other text that references “embarrassing” parts of American history, like Prohibition.
Modern copies of the Constitution (such as that at Archive.gov) typically show the text as it originally was, while also including a note that such clauses have been superseded by later amendments. That may seem reasonable, but Bain says that kind of approach is the reason nine people found themselves brutally gunned down in Charleston. “One might justify this presentation of our national charter by saying that it commemorates an earlier time or instructs students on the nation’s political history,” says Bain. “That kind of thinking has prevailed for a long time in Charleston, only recently yielding in the face of an atrocity.”
And so, Bain says, the Constitution needs to be “reorganiz[ed]” to suit the modern era, with offensive text excised and moved to a separate back section, “where it belongs.” Such a move would create “a Constitution that deserves to be read aloud each year when the House of Representatives begins its session,” unlike the undeserving current one, which Republicans have read aloud at the opening of Congress for the last three congresses.