Do not build it. Not there.
: Both The New York Times and the New York Post editorialized on the fight over the International Freedom Center and Drawing Center at Ground Zero. Of course, they don’t agree. But they both show what a mistake it was for Gov. Pataki to put himself — and all of us — in this most uncomfortable position:
When you put these opportunities to speak at such a place you will, of course, have controversy that can offend some. And if you try to stop that controversy, you will be accused of censorship.
That is why it should not be built. Not there. Let the discussion and disagreement and controversy and art occur elsewhere. Let the memorial happen there.
Says The Times:
Gov. George Pataki’s decision to side with increasingly vocal critics of the cultural plans for the World Trade Center site is not surprising, but it is alarming. The governor has been deeply and rightly sensitive to the concerns of the families of the victims of 9/11. Like all of us, he honors their loss and their grief. But by bowing to some of the survivors’ growing hostility to any version of 9/11 except their own, Mr. Pataki is doing a disservice to history and to the very idea of freedom.
That’s practically nasty to the families. It also assumes that this is an issue for the families only. It’s not.
The protesters – and the governor – seem to have little faith in the emotional power of the memorial to the victims, which will be the central focus of ground zero, emotionally, politically and architecturally.
This almost puts them at war: the memorial overshadowing the centers.
But it is meant to remember something more than a day of tragedy. It’s meant to remember the lives of those who died there, lives that were rich, complex and politically and culturally divided.
What those lives stand for now is American freedom, in its full implication and all its contradictions.
Loaded word, “contradictions.” Yes, that’s exactly what the IFC sought to examine. It seeks to probe controversy. Not there. The Times calls that censorship. Not if it is moved elsewhere, it’s not.
The Post says:
Gov. Pataki ó despite his assurances to the contrary Friday, and despite what some newspaper editorialists may choose to believe ó couldn’t keep “Piss Flag” out of the Drawing Center even if he wanted to, even if he were still in office.
Defenders of trash, and compliant judges, would surely block any effort to “censor” works.
Similarly, “scholars” like, say, Ward Churchill ó the nut who compared World Trade Center workers to Nazis ó won’t be easily stopped from gaining a forum at the International Freedom Center (IFC), also planned for the site.
Maybe these cynical showmen deserve that forum.
But not at Ground Zero.
The Post calls for “banning” the groups. No. They should merely be moved. The Post says they should move themselves:
Citing “inevitable tensions,” a statement from the center said: “The dilemmas raised by this juxtaposition are challenging . . . Clearly, the Drawing Center, like any other cultural institution, has a responsibility to its mission.”
Actually, we couldn’t agree more.
Which is why, if these two groups had decency, they’d bow out on their own.
Clearly, they wouldn’t want to compromise their independence. Nor lead the governor, and the public, to think they could meet his requirements and still carry out their missions faithfully.
Again, the only solution is for these groups to locate off-site.