Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Idiotarians, the Rising Tide, and My Civil War Index
This morning I logged on and found the article below referenced by LGF. The general level of moonbattery seems to be rising at an accelerated pace. TNTC, and generating personal unease. To use the Skywalker family expression, "I've got a bad feeling about this". So the clock (civil war index: ) gets nudged again. Not much time left. I believe that there are a great many people who want the unthinkable to happen, and many others who will justify their actions by helping generate self-fulfilling prophecy.
From the Wall Street Journal Online (hat tip:LGF):
The Great Ground Zero Heist
By DEBRA BURLINGAME
On Memorial Day weekend, three Marines from the 24th Expeditionary Unit who had been wounded in Iraq were joined by 300 other service members for a wreath-laying ceremony at the empty pit of Ground Zero. The broken pieces of the Twin Towers have long ago been cleared away. There are no faded flags or hand-painted signs of national unity, no simple tokens of remembrance. So why do they come? What do they hope to see?
The World Trade Center Memorial will break ground this year. When those Marines return in 2010, the year it is scheduled to open, no doubt they will expect to see the artifacts that bring those memories to life. They'll want a vantage point that allows them to take in the sheer scope of the destruction, to see the footage and the photographs and hear the personal stories of unbearable heartbreak and unimaginable courage. They will want the memorial to take them back to who they were on that brutal September morning.
Instead, they will get a memorial that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the yearning to return to that day. Rather than a respectful tribute to our individual and collective loss, they will get a slanted history lesson, a didactic lecture on the meaning of liberty in a post-9/11 world. They will be served up a heaping foreign policy discussion over the greater meaning of Abu Ghraib and what it portends for the country and the rest of the world.
* * *
The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom" -- but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same as that of those Marines. To the IFC's organizers, it is not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures. 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.
The public will be confused at first, and then feel hoodwinked and betrayed. Where, they will ask, do we go to see the September 11 Memorial? The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation will have erected a building whose only connection to September 11 is a strained, intellectual one. While the IFC is getting 300,000 square feet of space to teach us how to think about liberty, the actual Memorial Center on the opposite corner of the site will get a meager 50,000 square feet to exhibit its 9/11 artifacts, all out of sight and underground. Most of the cherished objects which were salvaged from Ground Zero in those first traumatic months will never return to the site. There is simply no room. But the International Freedom Center will have ample space to present us with exhibits about Chinese dissidents and Chilean refugees. These are important subjects, but for somewhere -- anywhere -- else, not the site of the worst attack on American soil in the history of the republic.
More disturbing, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is handing over millions of federal dollars and the keys to that building to some of the very same people who consider the post-9/11 provisions of the Patriot Act more dangerous than the terrorists that they were enacted to apprehend -- people whose inflammatory claims of a deliberate torture policy at Guantanamo Bay are undermining this country's efforts to foster freedom elsewhere in the world.
* * *
The driving force behind the IFC is Tom Bernstein, the dynamic co-founder of the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex who made a fortune financing Hollywood movies. But his capital ventures appear to have funded his true calling, the pro bono work he has done his entire adult life -- as an activist lawyer in the human rights movement. He has been a proud member of Human Rights First since it was founded -- as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights -- 27 years ago, and has served as its president for the last 12.
The public has a right to know that it was Mr. Bernstein's organization, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, that filed a lawsuit three months ago against Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was Human Rights First that filed an amicus brief on behalf of alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, an American citizen who the Justice Department believes is an al Qaeda recruit. It was Human Rights First that has called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the alleged torture of detainees, complete with budget authority, subpoena power and the ability to demand that witnesses testify under oath.
In fact, the 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:• Michael Posner, executive director at Human Rights First who is leading the world-wide "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."
While Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and LMDC are focusing their attention on the economic revival of lower Manhattan, there has been no meaningful oversight with respect to the "cash cow of Ground Zero." Meanwhile, 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 hanger 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?
Ms. Burlingame is 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.