A commission approved by the House on Wednesday to explore building a National Women’s History Museum has come under fire from some conservatives.
“Whose view of history is this going to be?” asked Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Nance’s group opposes the commission, which will spend 18 months exploring the erection of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The commission will merely “rubber stamp” the museum. And when built, it will place too much emphasis on what Nance described as pro-choice, anti-marriage, and anti-family viewpoints.
Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn and New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney co-sponsored the bill, which passed overwhelmingly in a 383-33 vote.
“My goal is by 2020, which is the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, we’ll be opening the doors of the Women’s History Museum on or near the National Mall,” said Maloney on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday.
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who will be featured in a museum exhibit on motherhood but still opposes the museum, said Wednesday that it will “enshrine the radical feminist movement.”
She pointed to Margaret Sanger, a proponent of the eugenics movement who founded Planned Parenthood, whose prominence in at the museum’s website is as an example of its “overwhelming bias.”
“The museum glosses over Margaret Sanger’s avid support for sterilization of women…and for the elimination of chosen ethnic groups,” said Bachmann on the House floor on Wednesday.
“They talk about Susan B. Anthony and the suffragists, but they fail to mention that they were pro-life,” Nance told TheDCNF, adding that the museum will promote “a jaundiced view of history.”
Nance and other conservatives point to the museum’s board of directors to support that claim.
A “review of the roster of the museum’s board members, ambassadors, advisory council and honorary board makes it clear this museum will lean left, not right,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s Genevieve Wood.
Joan Wages, the president and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum, has donated to EMILY’S List, a political action committee that backs pro-choice Democrats. Wages has also donated to Cali. Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.
Carey Shuart, the museum’s interim chairwoman of the board, has given $17,000 to EMILY’s List since 1998.
Ann Stone, the museum board’s most prominent Republican, is also a pro-choice activist. She is head of Republicans for Choice, a political action committee.
Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, along with Concerned Women for America and the Susan B. Anthony List plan to score Wednesday’s vote.
Nance cautioned Republican lawmakers against thinking their support for the museum will appease liberals.
“It is ludicrous to think, just from a political standpoint, that this vote somehow proves their credentials as being pro-woman,” said Nance. “The left is never going to stop alleging a ‘war on women,’ and this certainly isn’t going to change those dynamics.”
“Despite the museum’s support we went ahead and included additional conservative safeguards in the legislation,” said Blackburn in a statement to TheDCNF before Wednesday’s vote.
Included in those safeguards is language Blackburn added last week that conducts the commission to explore whether the museum can be funded without federal aid “into perpetuity.” However, the bill also allows the commission to consider whether the proposed museum should be part of the Smithsonian Institution, which receives about 70 percent of its funds from federal coffers.
The museum has raised only $14 million since 1996, far short of the estimated $500 million it will cost to build it. Operating the museum is expected to cost $20 million per year.
“Regardless of that effort some critics of this legislation have, incorrectly, said that the bill would create a museum that would portray women as monolithic in their views on abortion as well as other issues of concern to women,” said Blackburn, adding that she asked Nance to serve as a member of the commission.
Nance said that the offer — sent by Blackburn’s chief of staff on Tuesday night — is “an exercise in futility and frustration without the chairman being someone who at least is impartial on our views.”
“One seat would not change anything,” said Nance, adding “I am happy to either serve or find someone else to serve as chairman.”
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