Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Save the WTC Memorial!

The WTC Memorial has been hijacked by self-flagellating namby-pamby terror apologists, according to Debra Burlingame, who
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.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal Online,
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.
And if you think that's a good thing, talk to the fist.
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 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:
There follows a Rogue's Gallery of people who are trying to get us to lose this war. Among them is the evil mastermind,
• 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."
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?

Start by writing a polite but direct letter to:
Governor George E. Pataki
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Then, via LGF, we have:
The board of directors of the International Freedom Center are:

Tom A. Bernstein (Chairman) - President of Chelsea Piers, President of the Board of Human Rights First

Paula Grant Berry (Vice-Chair) - Member of the Board, World Trade Center Memorial Foundation

Stephen B. Heintz - President of the Rockefeller Bros. Fund

Daniel T. Tishman - President of Tishman Construction Corporation

Tom Bernstein is an avowed liberal; I suggest calls to Daniel Tishman (212-399-3600). The International Freedom Center was selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to be at the 9/11 memorial, and the chairman of the LMDC is John Whitehead (212-962-2300). The LMDC board was appointed by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (311 in NYC or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) and New York Governor George Pataki (518-474-8390). These people probably aren’t aware of what travesty is about to take place on hallowed ground, so let them know.
And don't forget, this whole "Freedom Tower" has to go; rebuild Twin Towers II!

See the site plan and sign the petition here.


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