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).