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Where the Freedom Center really belongs

In the Wall Street Journal, Richard J. Tofel, President of the International Freedom Center, responds to the furor over his organization's plans to build a massive "Freedom Center" at Ground Zero, which would document America's sins alongside those of Nazi Germany and communist China.

Tofel writes:

As envisioned in Daniel Libeskind's master plan for the site's redevelopment, the International Freedom Center's building will serve as a buffer between the sacred Memorial and the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city, including the thousands of people who will move each day in and out of Santiago Calatrava's spectacular new transit hub.

But the International Freedom Center itself will do much more than that. It will serve as a complement to the Memorial, bringing a universal "narrative of hope" to a place where hope is imperative.

...To be sure, the International Freedom Center will host debates and note points of view with which you — and I — will disagree. But that is the point, the proof of our society's enduring self-confidence and humanity.
Well, no. The point is to remember what happened to America on September 11, 2001. Tofel's freedom of speech argument is a straw man. Yes, in America we have the right to speak our minds and express contrary views. But common decency demands that we not build a platform for inflammatory rhetoric on the graves of our dead.

In theory, University of Colorado professor and terror apologist Ward Churchill could be an honored guest of the Freedom Center, delivering impassioned speeches about how the 9-11 victims were "little Eichmanns" unworthy of our sympathy, and how America deserved what it got on that day. Hey, you and I might disagree with his view, but that's the point, right?

Wrong. Building the IFC's Freedom Center at Ground Zero would be like scrawling graffiti on a tombstone. If it must be built, it should be built somewhere else.

And if the IFC has its heart set on New York, then the best location for the Freedom Center might be as a "buffer" between the United Nations complex and the rest of New York. There, perhaps, its vital message of the importance of freedom would have a beneficial effect on the representatives of nations like Iran and Syria as they file through it on their way to work. If, however, our worst fears are realized, and the Center really does turn into a platform for anti-American rhetoric, at least it will blend right in.

Other bloggers unimpressed by Mr. Tofel's argument include Michelle Malkin, Kevin Alyward, and Jeff Jarvis.


Anonymous said...

You hit that nail right on its little pin head!

Posted by Mr. Pink

Anonymous said...

GB, I agree with you that the WTC site is not the place for this, and everything you've written on this seems reasonable. But are you sure you want to use the dishonest ad?
The Freedom Center is inappropriate for the site where so many lost their lives, but it neither "blame[s] America" nor "excuse[s] their murderers". That's two blatant distortions in a three-sentence ad.
Your posts about this stand better on their own because they don't misrepresent the situation. The truth should be enough to damn the project. 

Posted by Big Ben

Anonymous said...

Hmm... you raise a legitimate point, BB. However, I think people naturally expect a certain amount of hyperbole in advertising copy. And if we truly analyze the ad, I'm not so sure it crosses the line into falsehood.

First, many people do believe  that America bears some or all of the blame for 9-11 happening. Given their backgrounds, I think it's fair to assume that some, maybe even many, of the supporters of the Freedom Center feel the same way.

Saying that such people "excuse" the murders of the 9-11 victims is admittedly a bit overheated, but not a flat-out lie. I think it falls well within the "advertisement hyperbole" zone.

For similar reasons, I think using the phrase "Because a 'Blame America' monument honors no one" is okay. As I pointed out in my post, Tofel says explicitly that "the International Freedom Center will host debates and note points of view with which you — and I — will disagree." Quite possibly, even probably, one of those points of view will be that America bears the blame for 9-11.

At any rate, while the ad may not be 100% even-handed, I am trusting people to form their opinions based on more than just a few lines of ad copy. 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

Ahh... what the heck, I changed the ad anyway. Looks better on the page and takes the simple approach. 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine such a more inappropriate thing for anyone to do. 9/11 is as much a part of our history as Pearl Harbor. The Arizona memorial is a truly inspiring place comemorating those who died on the "Day of Infamy". If you go there and talk to those visiting you will understand our country a little better. Or visit the Vietnam Memorial in DC on Memorial Day and talk to those of us who lost comrades in Nam. We understand that freedom isn't free. Don't make a mockery out of the sacrifices of those who died on 9/11 either in New York or at the Pentagon. Thank God that those who are working on the memorial at the Pentagon understand freedom. I was there that day and I saw the black smoke against the blue sky and one of my good friends lost her sister that day. Lets move forward to honor the heros of 9/11.

Posted by bob milner



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