The excitement of the Donald Trump/Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) affair is waning. Perhaps if he were at his Mar-a-Lago estate being escorted out of his home in handcuffs by FBI agents who turned up in their multitudes then special interest groups would be having a field day. After all, Donald Trump is numbered among those they love to hate.
However, for archivists and those in archival-related professions, our role is to try to manage controversial issues. Of course, this is easier said than done.
I recall in one of my classes we grappled with the '1963 Bad Friday Coral Gardens Saga' involving Rastafarians and the security forces. As the class attempted to enact various scenes it turned out to be an emotionally charged event. However, the class was constantly reminded that the role of archival appraisers is to seek to be as objective as possible — agreeing and disagreeing is not our call.
The heart of the matter involving US President Donald Trump and the FBI has to do with the preservation of archival materials based on their enduring value. My recommendation would be, on the face of it, this does not seem to be entirely a legal matter based on what has been presented in multiple forums.
This seems to be an arbitration matter which requires a policy review of the management of presidential records. In my opinion, the International Council on Archives (ICA) is best suited to be arbitrator.
The ICA believes that effective records and archives management is an essential precondition for good governance, the rule of law, administrative transparency, the preservation of mankind's collective memory, and access to information by citizens. It is dedicated to the effective management of records and the preservation, care, and use of the world's archival heritage through its representation of records and archive professionals across the globe (https://www.ica.org/en).
This is not a Donald Trump problem — whatever your views are of Donald Trump. This is a United States of America problem.
Lecturer, Archival appraisal and access
Museum and heritage preservation officer
University of Technology, Jamaica