Friday, June 10, 2005

September 11th Memorial

Jacob Laksin writes in FrontPage Imagine the following scenario. A gaggle of leftist ideologues, most of them vocally hostile to the U.S.-led War on Terror and some of them inclined to believe that the U.S. itself poses the greatest threat to world peace, is tasked with creating a memorial to the victims of 9-11 terrorism and a tribute to freedom. This, in essence, is what has happened with International Freedom Center in New York.

Created specifically for the World Trade Center Site, the new center is being billed as an “educational complement” to the World Trade Center Memorial, slated for completion in 2009. But a curious thing about the center is how little attention it devotes to the tragedy that birthed it. Rather than focusing on America’s response to the terrorist attacks—whether in the form of the firefighter in Lower Manhattan or the Marine in Northern Iraq—the center has taken upon itself the mission of showcasing “humanity’s response to September 11.”

To this end, the four-story center, which will be housed in the World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex erected on the site of the former Twin Towers, will feature museum-like galleries furnished with multimedia exhibits cataloguing the abuses of freedom throughout history. Photographs of everyone from the fabled leftwinger and union organizer Mother Jones to a voter in Ukraine are being considered for the ceiling. As well, the center, which is expected to host up to 2 million visitors annually, will reportedly include presentations on everything from the depredations visited upon Native Americans to the struggles of dissidents in Soviet gulags, all giving a faddishly universal gloss to a uniquely American tragedy. There will even be an “engagement” program, which will encourage visitors to take up activism “on behalf of freedom” but not necessarily freedom as America has defined and developed it and been attacked for advancing it.

All of this comes into sharper focus when one considers that the “creative team” charged with designing the memorial center is led by Peter W. Kunhardt, who founded the center with Tom Bernstein, president of New York’s Chelsea Piers sports complex. He is also the president of Kunhardt Productions, a film company that specializes in historical documentaries. Among its recent productions is a 2003 series of half-hour programs for PBS called “Freedom: A History of US.” Although it featured a host of Hollywood celebrity narrators, the series, breaking with standard PBS procedure of using a panel of experts, relied on a single historian to supply the relevant historical background. That historian was anti-war activist and veteran leftwinger Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia University.

When it comes to the International Freedom Center’s memorial project, however, Kunhardt has been quick to waive aside suggestions that he might have a political agenda. As he recently told the New York Times, he wants only to “explore freedom in accurate and meaningful and exciting ways.” Moreover, he insisted, "We tried to be above politics as we did our research.”

Being above politics means offending conservatives and doing whatever their little liberal hearts desire.
They didn’t try very hard. For ideas about the direction and content of the planned memorial, the International Freedom Center has, in its own words, “reached out to an extraordinary roster of scholars,” with the intention of fostering “conversations on freedom.” But a survey of the scholars solicited by the center beginning with Foner suggests that the more likely result will be a leftist propaganda assault on the United States and its foreign policy.

Making Foner’s association with a September 11 memorial project all the more strange is the fact the professor evinced little sympathy for his country in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Writing just days after the attacks in the London Review of Books, Foner opined: “I’m not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the [Bush] White House.”
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Also planes crashing into buildings can kill 3,000.
Foner further urged “[American] allies to impose some restraint on the White House.” That the root cause of the terrorist attacks was American foreign policy toward the Middle East Foner had no doubt: In a September 2004 article for the History News Network, Foner explained, “It is based primarily on American policies -- toward Israel, the Palestinians, oil supplies, the region’s corrupt and authoritarian regimes, and, most recently, Iraq.”
The 9/11 attack was caused by the war in Iraq, several years later? Did the guys in the airplanes have a time machine?
In remarks posted on the International Freedom Center’s website, Foner explains that the memorial will require a “critical eye,” and stresses that, “There have been many points in our history where freedom has been restricted, and has gone backwards.” What relevance this has to a September 11 memorial is unclear, but it does suggest that leftists like Foner intend to use the memorial to project their view of American history as an unabated stretch of oppression and intolerance.

Michelle Malkin blogged The New York Times remains silent, but the New York Post weighs in. Tim Sumner has much more. Take back the memorial.

sisu blogged "Where's the outrage?" Brian Kilmeade is asking Debra Burlingame on FOX&Friends this morning re that attempted coup by anti-America interests -- blogged here and here -- to place what Michelle Malkin aptly calls "A Blame America Monument" at the heart of Ground Zero....

Angry in the Great White North blogged At least in the United States, the plans are in the open, and there is a movement to take back the memorial site from the "Blame America" crowd. Good luck to them.

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