A plea: Do not build the International Freedom Center

A plea: Do not build the International Freedom Center

: I’m turning off the blog bluster about the International Freedom Center planned for the World Trade Center and making a simple, sober plea:

Do not build it. Not there.

Moving ahead with the plans for the center will only bring more fighting, more politics, more tortured compromise, and more delay to the World Trade Center.

But worse, it will distract and detract from the memorial and the memory of the heroes and innocents of that tragedy. And that is what I can’t bear.

Last night, I spoke with Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot of one of the 911 jets, a leader of the families’ movement, and the woman who brought to light some of the disturbing elements of the plans for the Freedom Center in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (following the first hints of the politicization of the project here). I won’t speak for Debra but will say what I advised:

It is fruitless to nitpick the Freedom Center’s committee (add a moderate, add a conservative, find a different historian) and edit the plans (if you’re going to portray freedom’s enemies, will you devote a wing to the Saudis and the Palestinian terrorists or will you fear offense?) and launch a fight to take over the center (more dueling op-eds, more diggging up the controversies around the planners).

The truth is that we do not need this center there and it does not belong there. And so that is the call to action, that is the plea: Do not build it.

If the people behind the center want to raise private money and find another place to build it, then God bless, please go do it. I’ll visit. I’ll agree or disagree with its choices and tone and message. But I won’t find it to be what it is now: an inappropriate and likely offensive politicization of the memorial at the World Trade Center.

I make this earnest plea to Gov. Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Silver, Mayor Guiliani, Sen. Clinton, Sen. Schumer, the LMDC, and the Freedom Center committee itself:

Do not build it.

: Here is Debra Buringame’s Take Back the Memorial blog. My earlier, blog-blustery posts on this are here, here, here, here, here, here. And here is the Freedom Center’s site (which still does not answer the issues raised by Burlingame, me, and others, despite its protests in a myth-v-fact page).

  • What he said.

  • Don’t drop this issue, Jeff. I’m not tired of hearing about it.
    Because, you said you were ending your blog-buster, I did go and read the op-ed by Debra Burlingame thoroughly. So, it’s good that you threatened to stop, but don’t stop.
    Keep us informed. Let us know what to do. Let us know who to write. I only read a handful of blogs, so I’m not going to find time to track the issue myself.
    Thanks for bringing this travesty to my attention.

  • Gunther

    You say you’re going to stop writing about this, and then proceed to write 397 words telling us how you’re not going to have anything else to say about it? I think this could be done much more succinctly.

  • mia

    I agree with another commenter of yours. This Freedom Center would be appropriate were it built within the soon to be renovated United Nation building.

  • Patricia

    I so agree with you, Jeff. I don’t want politicos trolling for votes or board members “branding” their message onto a memorial that is a gravesite still for thousands who were vaporized there. It stinks to high heaven.
    Please, I’m begging you, don’t add this insult to sacred ground.

  • Gunther, Alan: I didn’t say that I was going to stop writing about this, only that I was turning down the bluster of my previous posts, where I got theatrical and hyperbolic, so I could make a serious plea.

  • Mike

    I agree and have advocated this very thing since I read Debra Burlingame’s editorial. I have dropped letters in the mail to Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg. It is an abomination that this freedom center is even being proposed or considered for this area.
    Build it back like it was. Include a memorial that explains what happened on that day and honors those fallen. That’s it.

  • Chris Josephson

    Thanks to the bloggers who are keeping us informed about this.
    The only memorials that belong at Ground Zero are those honoring the memories of the 9/11 victims. The IFC should construct its ‘memorial’ elsewhere.

  • FC

    You alledge that “Debra Burlingame [is] a leader of the families’ movement.”
    Could you please source this statement, paying specific attention to said movement not in relationship to conservative political activism? Thanks.

  • jeremy in NYC

    She’s one of the few family members on the Board of the WTC Foundation. See http://www.wtcfoundation.org/

  • FC

    “Debra Burlingame [is] a leader of the families’ movement.” “She’s one of the few family members on the Board of the WTC Foundation.”
    I thought he was comparing her to the Jersey Girls. Now I know that Rober DeNiro, Maurice Greenberg and Michael D. Eisner are leaders of the Families’ movement, I can rest well! Worry not! The Taxi Driver, Insurance Billionares and Disney are on the case, Families! THE COMMITTEE IS YOUR LEADER.

  • jeremy in NYC

    FC – since reading comprehension ain’t your game, I’ll try and make this easier for you:
    DeNiro, Greenberg and Eisner – what do they have in common? Clue: they are all NOT something (hint: rhymes with “mamily fembers”). Certain leaders of the family members where chosen to sit on the committee. Certain other people were chosen who are not family members – so they would NOT be leaders of the family members, they would be leaders of other things. See how easy that was?
    Yeesh. Whatta maroon.

  • Ethan

    I’m still calling for land. Big, open land in the smack dab of New York City; Thomas Jefferson, rearing his beautiful head in the 21st century.

  • chuck

    Yup, it got politicized real quick. What a shame.

  • anonymouscoward

    I’ll just add that if they DO build it, and it’s anything remotely resembling what has been discussed; they WILL come.
    And they WILL come with buckets of red paint.

  • szmike

    And I’ll just add that if they DO build it, they’ll have created a perfect platform for the Republicans to whip up their constituency into a frenzy, just like they did with Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11 last year, and the Republicans will win in 2006 just like they did in 2002 and 2004.

  • owl

    Thank you Jeff…well done. Just do not stop writing about this. Cavuto’s interview showed that head honcho dodging. Keep it up….its a disgrace.

  • There is only one appropriate memorial that could be built at Ground Zero: The World Trade Center, just as it was before.

  • I totally agree; WTC for WTC. But I’ve been waiting for Bush’s buddies to do a takeover of the IFC to justify their own politicized views of freedom and liberty, one that links the Sept. 11th attacks with the follies and falsehoods that got us into Iraq.
    Maybe it’s the perfect example of why the IFC SHOULDN’T be at the WTC site; because every single politicized spectre Ms Burlingame warns of is also what I’m afraid of–but from the politicians who are actually in office. When you say it, it’s just the facts; when the other guy says it, it’s propaganda.
    To let the common horror, tragedy and loss of that day devolve into politicized bickering and self-justifying revisionism by anyone cannot be permitted. Now if only Burlingame, Cavuto, and the WSJ editorial board will agree…