Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pataki kills International Freedom Center, a.k.a. What's Wrong With America Center

After shoe no. 1 dropped on his head (Hillary against it) and then shoe no. 2 came crashing down (Rudy says, "no way"), New York governor George Pataki had no option but to declare the International Freedom Center at hallowed Ground Zero dead, dead, dead. The IFC was the idea of a group of morons who thought that it would be a good idea to show the world how the murders of 3000 innocent people on September 11, 2001 fit into the grand scheme of the worldwide quest for freedom. Most Americans, including the vast majority of the 9/11 victims' surviving family members, the NYPD, the NYFD, politicians with even an ounce of raw intelligence and Rudy Giuliani (been there, done that, talked the talk and walked the walk) were adamantly opposed to any memorializing or aggrandizing anything other than the innocents and heroes who died that day. Most Americans, including those most closely affected by the murderous terrorist attacks, like the victim's families, the police, the firemen and Mayor Giuliani, could not possibly give a shit less about grand schemes.

There were originally four different phases to this "memorial", the IFC, the Drawing Center, an art group that has since withdrawn, a dance center and a theater group. I would imagine that the dancers and the actors will break legs in their haste to abandon this train wreck. Pataki supported the IFC all the way until he got an encyclopedia out and researched the term "political suicide." Mayor Bloomberg, confident of reelection against a very weak local pol, commences whining, "Although I understand Governor Pataki's decision, I am disappointed that we were not able to find a way to reconcile the freedoms we hold so dear with the sanctity of the site." And, oh yass, the New York Times. We can look forward to their scathingly and bitterly worded surrender tomorrow.

Statement of the International Freedom Center
September 28, 2005

We are deeply disappointed that the will could not be found to continue the development of the International Freedom Center at this hallowed site. It is the site for which the IFC was created-at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's request, and as an integral part of Daniel Libeskind's master site plan. We do not believe there is a viable alternative place for the IFC at the World Trade Center site. We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end.

We are profoundly sorry to see:
This significant blow to the idea of a living memorial that emerged from a comprehensive public process;
The loss of a museum of freedom at the place where freedom was so brutally challenged;
The failure to accept the offer of nine great universities to offer cultural programming on freedom issues in the heart of Lower Manhattan; and
This setback to one of the most ambitious and promising service and civic engagement programs in this country.

Hundreds of people contributed to the IFC's development, including some of the world's best thinkers on the subject of human freedom. To all these people we offer our profound thanks for their hard work over the past four years. Freedom is humankind's greatest, most ennobling idea, and its surest antidote to terror and tyranny.

Finally, we wish those still involved in the important work of creating the Memorial the best of luck in the months and years ahead.
So why all the fuss? Probably the thing that I found most strikingly wrong was that the actual 50,000 square feet 9/11 memorial was to be located underground while the IFC was in a separate, imposing building occupying some 300,000 square feet of that building. It would have quickly become the center of attraction because of its accessibility. Then the exhibits in the IFC were to have included the Civil War, slavery in America, Auschwitz and The Holocaust, child labor in America, 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. All of that begged the question,"What the hell has all that got to do with the good folk who lost their lives on 9/11?"

Questioning what a visitor would be likely to encounter at the site in the way of disruptive protests, Charles Wolf, who lost his wife, Katherine, in the trade center attacks, asked, "
Do you find a debate about Nazism at Auschwitz? Do you find a debate about the North and the South at Gettysburg?"
"This vision for the Freedom Center should be a tribute, a celebration of those men and women who through the course of history have moved us forward in our march to freedom," said John Cahill, a special adviser to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency overseeing the rebuilding effort. Again, one must ask, "What the hell has all that got to do with the good folk who lost their lives on 9/11?"

In spite of the liberal Mayor Bloomberg, the even more liberal New York Times and the morons who conceived and designed this now dead monstrosity, the majority of Americans have not been fooled. They have seen this for what it is and have rejected it out of hand. Good for us.

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