I was shocked by this this Wall Street Journal op-ed by Debra Burlingame, which is quickly spreading through the blogosphere. It explains how the left-leaning "International Freedom Center" (IFC) has effectively claimed a huge chunk of the 9-11 memorial site for its own ends, all without a word of criticism from New York Gov. George Pataki or Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Instead of simply honoring the heroes and remembering the tragedy, the IFC is planning to build a 300,000-square-foot "Freedom Center" at Ground Zero that will function as a gruesome catalog of American and other sins:
The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond. This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona.People coming to a 9-11 memorial don't want to be forced to think about slavery, or how settlers treated Native Americans 200 years ago. Is a 9-11 memorial that focuses on 9-11 too much to ask for?
In fact, there was once a much more appropriate 9-11 memorial on almost the very same site. I saw it while I was visiting New York one year after the terrorist attacks. It was made by people who still felt the pain of that day people who knew what was important, what had to be said, and what had to be done. Here it is:
Across the street, I found the most remarkable part of this ad hoc, grass-roots memorial. In the Chelsea Jeans store, owner David Cohen had decided to preserve part of the sales floor exactly as it was after the towers fell:
The Trinity Church fence has long since been returned to its normal state; I remember hearing that all the items hung on it were transferred to the Smithsonian for storage. And while many people came to look at David Cohen's glass-enclosed display, business never picked up and he was forced to close the store. The display is gone, too.
It's unfortunate that we've lost these raw, improvised memorials. And it's incumbent upon us to replace them with something equally powerful something that will let visitors reconnect with the memories and the wrenching emotions of 9-11. The IFC's Freedom Center, which Jeff Jarvis has dubbed "a Why They Hate Us Pavillion", not only falls short of the mark, it insults the spirits of those who died when the towers fell.
Our 9-11 memorial should focus on the horrors, the losses, the memories, and the sacrifices of that terrible day. It should not be used to advance a political agenda, especially that of the anti-American left.
I quoted a brief snippet of the Burlingame op-ed above, but this is really one of those cases where you simply have to read the whole thing. In case the WSJ link goes bad, I've saved a copy in Word format here.
Also be sure to check out GOPbloggers and Michelle Malkin, which include information on how you can protest the IFC's plan.
Take Back the Memorial has plenty of information on how you can help to do just that.
YET ANOTHER FOLLOW-UP:
GOPbloggers has an update with information from a spokeswoman from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. (Found via LGF.)