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Pataki's empty Ground Zero promise

I've blogged previously (1, 2, 3) about the International Freedom Center's plans to build a "Freedom Center" at Ground Zero, which would catalog America's sins, like slavery and segregation, along with the Soviet gulag, Chinese re-education camps, and the Holocaust.

Now, Wizbang points out another potential threat to the solemnity of the 9-11 memorial. Apparently, New York's Govenor Pataki has allocated space at Ground Zero to the Drawing Center, a SoHo gallery that, in the past, has featured virulently (and predictably) politicized art. Example: "Homeland Security", which depicts a jet airplane dive-bombing the crotch of a naked, spead-legged woman.

As New York's Daily News wrote in a June 23 editorial:

Works such as "Homeland Security" belong nowhere near the sobering pit where the twin towers stood, but the prospect of such a sacrilege arises because Gov. Pataki and his lower Manhattan minions have given space there to a SoHo art gallery called The Drawing Center. What were they thinking? Did they even take two minutes to glance through The Drawing Center's catalogue, which, besides "Homeland Security," also features such artistic creations as:

•   The infamous hooded Abu Ghraib figure, the wires falling from his wrists to arrange themselves into the word "Liberty."

•   A connect-the-dots organizational chart fancifully linking George W. Bush to Osama Bin Laden and former Texas Gov. John Connally and some oilman here and some financier there.

And so on and so forth. In short, it's plain as day that The Drawing Center does not bring to the downtown planning a single-minded respect for the memories of the dead - which is, after all, the point of a Ground Zero memorial, we would think.
The good news is that Pataki realizes that installing a blame-America-first exhibition atop the graves of the 9-11 victims is not a savvy political move. The Daily News reports that on Friday, he issued a statement concerning what type of material will, and will not, be welcome at the memorial site:
Gov. Pataki drew a line in the sand yesterday, declaring he will tolerate no America-bashing on the sacred soil of Ground Zero.

..."We will not tolerate anything on that site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom or denigrates the sacrifice and courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11."

He added, "The Daily News did a good service by pointing out some of these things. We do not want that at Ground Zero; I do not want that at Ground Zero and to the extent that I have the power, it's not going to happen."

..."Sure, there can be debate," Pataki said when asked if his tough stance jeopardized free-speech rights. "But I don't want that debate to be occurring at Ground Zero."
Sounds good, in theory. But once the Freedom Center and the Drawing Center gallery are built, what is to stop the people behind them from doing whatever they like? Their statements on the matter, from the same Daily News article, are hardly reassuring:
Tom Bernstein, the Freedom Center's chairman, pledged in a statement to preserve that sanctity. The center "must, and will, honor humanity's march toward freedom and highlight America's role as a beacon for freedom throughout the world."

The Drawing Center released a statement saying it would work with the state to resolve the "inevitable tensions" between "remembrance and cultural activity."
Nowhere in these statements is there any kind of assurance that the two groups will avoid the kind of controversial material at issue. And why should they? They know they'll able to play the First Amendment martyr role if any attempt to condemn them or their exhibitions is made.

Sadly, I fear that Governor Pataki, despite his fine words, is either lying or being played for a fool. His promise to preserve the solemnity of the Ground Zero memorial site is as empty as the gaping footprints of the fallen towers themselves.

Over in the Wizbang comments, SoHo resident Michael Negroponte, who has some interesting relatives, accuses the Daily News of McCarthyism.

The Dread Pundit Bluto has more.


Anonymous said...

Even if America was an especially bad place historically (it wasn't; our sins were common to all nations and peoples, our virtues unique) it would be still be absolutely inappropriate to desecrate that ground with a lesson from history. On that subject, however, I just wanted to point out from reading todays yahoo news that the current annual number of children held in slavery in West Africa , 200,000, is three times the amount of slaves that were brought each year from West Africa to the Western Hemisphere during the 18th century height of that awful endeavor. That could spin into a rant about Amnesty International's priorities but the idea that America is especially in need of apologizing to iself or to the world is sheer nonsense. America has been at the forefront of spreading liberty (ex women voting in Japan, putting down the Atlantic slave trade) and where we were horribly wrong we also struggled to make things right, shedding much of our own blood. That story should be told, just not at the 9/11 burial ground.

Posted by tokyobk

Anonymous said...

Tokyo BK says ``our virtues are unique.''

safe to say humility is not among them. 

Posted by Amanda Reckonwith

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping the drum beating on this issue. 

Posted by Dan

Anonymous said...

tokyobk writes: ``the idea that America is especially in need of apologizing to iself or to the world is sheer nonsense.''

TBK is correct again. That's why no prominent Americans have ever said America is ESPECIALLY in need of apologizing.

Many, or most, Americans are politically and emotionally mature enough to accept responsibility for their country's actions, good and bad, without needing to point out that others have done worse.

That's why so many Americans support political leaders attempts to make clear the nation's regrets and even to apologize for imperfect moments in the country's history.

A lot of other countries blame everything on outside forces and their people revel in blaming everyone but themselves because they lack educational and social development.

The degree to which a country can accept criticism of itself correlates directly with its level of political development and understanding of freedom and how to maintain it. Countries like North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and Baathist Iraq, for example, have believed that their government cannot be criticized.

America, by contrast, may well be the most willing of any country to accept criticism of its own history. Gotta love 'em for that.


Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

The creative director at an ad agency I once worked for played in a band. I've forgotten the title, but one of his original songs contained the phrase, "...that spineless puppet bastard Pataki." He may have been on to something.

Pataki's assurances notwithstanding, Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International is described as a "principal adviser to the museum". That would be the same magazine that featured a photo of Old Glory in the trash.

We'd better keep beating the drum on this one. 

Posted by The Dread Pundit Bluto

Anonymous said...

Zakaria is an "occidentalist" of the worst sort, right up there with Ms. Kahn of Amnesty. One of Zakaria's books also advocates the idea that democracy is over-rated and not for everyone (ie outside of Ivy grads who live in Manhattan. I suppose like many who prosper in the West they love to hate, he is preparing for the Chinese century. 

Posted by tokyobk

Anonymous said...

Some countries are like many people in that they will never admit their errors or complicity in the deeds of others.

Some countries will admit their errors of the past in order to press on to the greater achievements of the future. And, once their act of contrition has been made, they are forgiven and allowed to move on.

Yet, in the case of the United States, it's critics can never be satisfied with admissions of wrong doing. The apologies were not timely, without sincerity, devoid of sufficient compensation, too narrowly tailored, too sweeping as to be meaningless, ad nauseaum.

Now, we have people who are inventing acts for which they demand that an apology me made in the name of people long dead. Fictious claims become accepted as fact inflame public debate and cause bitterness and hatred. This line of reasoning is contagious and finds its way into public discourse and shapes the attitudes of people who cannot, or will not, check the facts themselves - how else could you explain the "fake but accurate" rationale from prominent journalists?

In a strange way, by their incessant demands that the United States apologize for everything wrong in the world, these critics are claiming that the U.S. is at the center of everything bad and on the periphery of everything good. And by believing that they are the only people who can make the "great Satan" admit its erros and changes its ways, they become the people who control the greatest power on earth. 

Posted by Hornet

Anonymous said...

Hornet, who is "inventing acts" that require an apology?
Which "fictious claims" are being accepted as fact?
I'm puzzled by your comment, since the only crimes mentioned in this thread are slavery and segregation, which are neither invented nor ficticious.

Adults apologize for their bad behavior. Children try to weasel out of responsibility by pointing out how badly others behave. I, for one, prefer for my country to be one of the grown-ups.
(None of which is directly related to the subject of whether the IFC is appropriate, of course.) 

Posted by Big Ben



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