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Line up! No shoving! And enter the Freedom Center (excuse me, the International Freedom Center. We're truly fortunate today, our tour guide is Richard Tofel, the president of the Center. He'll begin by lecturing us on why a simple memorial is not enough:
Then there will be the Memorial Center, a museum devoted to the events of September 11 itself, with exhibit space roughly equal in size to that at the International Freedom Center. The Memorial Center will tell the stories of the day--of heroism and sacrifice, of rescue and service, of courage and resolution, of memory and loss. It is the Memorial Center that will contain the iconic artifacts of September 11.In response, Tim Sumner explains just what "roughly equal in size" and "a buffer between the sacred Memorial and the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city" really mean. The memorial to the victims will be a 50,000 square foot underground concrete bunker buried beneath the 300,000 square foot "Freedom Center".
That is necessary, but not sufficient.
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.
So tell me, at Ground Zero, should we carve in cement and bury in an underground 50,000 square foot museum the names of the nearly 3,000 people that Islamic terrorists murdered that day? Should visitors to the World Trade Center's memorial be left to wonder what happened that day and where the artifacts of 9/11 are? Above ground, should we build a park with reflecting pools, a cultural center, and a 300,000 square foot International Freedom Center where visitors can hear lectures and discussions on why they all hated us, what we did to bring 9/11 upon ourselves, and the correct world-view future generations must choose so they won't hate us and attack us anymore?In light of Sumner's response, Toffler's description of the merits of the "Freedom Center" seem as Orwellian as it's name.
Although not addressing the actual architects of the "Freedom Center" here's something that might clarify why many are a bit suspicious of their motives. Put simply, given evidence of Tofel's doublespeak above, when he says "To be sure, the International Freedom Center will host debates and note points of view with which you--and I--will disagree" I'm reminded of this:
Tell Me Lies contains thirty-two articles, almost all of which express similar sentiments: they condemn any aspect of news coverage of the war in Iraq that does not share their own political prejudices. The first five articles of the collection are written by John Pilger, the Australian-born, London-based journalist and filmmaker. Like Fisk, Pilger?s immediate response to September 11 was to blame the United States itself. In his column in the London magazine New Statesman, Pilger said the real terrorists were not Muslim radicals but the Americans:Now that's something to think about! And as Tofel notes, the center "...will not exist to precisely define "freedom" or to tell people what to think, but to get them to think--and to act in the service of freedom as they see it."If the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can be surprised? ? Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims?that is, the victims of American fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms?military, strategic and economic?is the greatest source of terrorism on earth.What made these comments especially reprehensible was less what they said?similar sentiments were expressed by a number of Western intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky and Susan Sontag, in the days that followed?and more their timing. The statement was published on September 13, which, given the deadlines operating on New Statesman, means Pilger must have written these words on September 11 itself, while the horror of the events was still unfolding on television.
I think the mere idea of such a place might accomplish that goal.