In my previous post
, I asked if anyone had any thoughts with the misplaced history of Freedom being memorialized at the World Trade Center Memorial. Well, it would seem that the type of history being showcased may be anti-American in flavor, to boot. In the Op-Ed I mentioned yesterday (now with a 7-day free link
), Debra Burlingame, a member of the board of directors of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, pilot of American Airlines fight 77, which was crashed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, listed the people behind the IFC, who are a veritable "who's who" of people who routinely seem to presume the worst of American motives.
[T]he IFC's list of those who are shaping or influencing the content and programming for their Ground Zero exhibit includes a Who's Who of the human rights, Guantanamo-obsessed world:Jeff Jarvis
• Michael Posner, executive director at Human Rights First who is leading the worldwide "Stop Torture Now" campaign focused entirely on the U.S. military. He has stated that Mr. Rumsfeld's refusal to resign in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal is "irresponsible and dishonorable."
• Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, who is pushing IFC organizers for exhibits that showcase how civil liberties in this country have been curtailed since September 11.
• Eric Foner, radical-left history professor at Columbia University who, even as the bodies were being pulled out of a smoldering Ground Zero, wrote, "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House." This is the same man who participated in a "teach-in" at Columbia to protest the Iraq war, during which a colleague exhorted students with, "The only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat the U.S. military," and called for "a million Mogadishus." The IFC website has posted Mr. Foner's statement warning that future discussions should not be "overwhelmed" by the IFC's location at the World Trade Center site itself.
• George Soros, billionaire founder of Open Society Institute, the nonprofit foundation that helps fund Human Rights First and is an early contributor to the IFC. Mr. Soros has stated that the pictures of Abu Ghraib "hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself."
... the Freedom Center's organizers are quickly lining up individuals, institutions and university provosts with this arrogant appeal: "The memorial to the victims will be the heart of the site, the IFC will be the brain." Indeed, they have declared the World Trade Center Memorial the perfect "magnet" for the world's "great leaders, thinkers and activists" to participate in lectures and symposiums that examine the "foundations of free and open societies." Put less grandly, these activists and academics are salivating at the prospect of holding forth on the "perfect platform" where the domestic and foreign policy they despise was born.
Less welcome to the Freedom Center are the actual beneficiaries of that policy. According to the New York Times, early renderings of the center's exhibit area created by its Norwegian architectural firm depicted a large mural of an Iraqi voter. That image was replaced by a photograph of Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson when the designs were made public. What does it mean that the "story of humankind's quest for freedom" doesn't include the kind that is fought for with the blood and tears of patriots? It means, I fear, that this is a freedom center which will not use the word "patriot" the way our Founding Fathers did.
The so-called lessons of September 11 should not be force-fed by ideologues hoping to use the memorial site as nothing more than a powerful visual aid to promote their agenda. Instead of exhibits and symposiums about Internationalism and Global Policy we should hear the story of the courageous young firefighter whose body, cut in half, was found with his legs entwined around the body of a woman. Recovery personnel concluded that because of their positions, the young firefighter was carrying her.
The people who visit Ground Zero in five years will come because they want to pay their respects at the place where heroes died. They will come because they want to remember what they saw that day, because they want a personal connection, to touch the place that touched them, the place that rallied the nation and changed their lives forever. I would wager that, if given a choice, they would rather walk through that dusty hangar at JFK Airport where 1,000 World Trade Center artifacts are stored than be herded through the International Freedom Center's multi-million-dollar insult.
Ground Zero has been stolen, right from under our noses. How do we get it back?
Oh, and by the way, when you build this center, will you include the atrocities of the Saudis and Saddam Hussein and the PLO and all the tyrants of the Middle East? Will have you have an exhibit about the women there who do not have the freedom to vote or even drive?
Will you build a special wing for the special sickness that is suicide terrorism -- in Israel and in Iraq and at the World Trade Center? Or will you be afraid of offending Muslims?
Well, I'm offended.
The World Trade Center is a place for remembrance of the innocents and victims of that day and for a return to life.
That is the problem. Again, it seems like the memorial is being misappropriated to present a history that is, at best, tangentially related to the event. The stated goal of the IFC is to use the magnet of the WTC Memorial to present a version of history that, based upon the backgrounds of those listed by Burlingame, may be suspect in its even-handedness. However, I'm less concerned with the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the scholarship: that is a different debate. Instead, I believe that, while there is a time and place for such an exhibition, this isn't it.
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