Do not build that. Not there.

The NY Daily News exposes another questionable angle on the International Freedom Center that is still insisting it should be part of the memorial at the World Trade Center. The News says the IFC had…

…”drawn inspiration” and received “important practical advice” from the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience.

Now before we get to the advice this coalition has given, let’s make this clear: What we build at the World Trade Center is not a “musuem of conscience.”

If you want to build museums of conscience regarding terrorism, go franchise them in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and Pakistan and all over the Middle East.

What we build at the World Trade Center should be a memorial.

This coalition joins museums at places where evil was concocted and executed: apartheid, the Holocaust, gulags.

The evil of 9/11 was not concocted at the World Trade Center. Innocents died there that day because of an evil born elsewhere.

That is why it is so inappropriate to turn the place into a why-they-hate-us pavillion, to import political debate about unrelated ills: about slavery or concentration camps.

The World Trade Center is the place where 3,000 heroes and innocents died and the role of a memorial is to remember them and tell their story.

Further, if you go to to the coalition’s site, they do not list terrorism — only “state terrorism” — as a “contemporary human rights issues.”

So I don’t know why the IFC is seeking not only advice from but also inviting exhibits and debates from this coalition.

Now here’s some of the advice that coalition is giving to the IFC:

“Don’t feature America first,” the IFC has been advised by the consortium of 14 “museums of conscience” that quietly has been consulting with the Freedom Center for the past two years over plans for the hallowed site. “Think internationally, where America is one of the many nations of the world.” …

“No one in the civilized world would ever defend what happened on 9/11,” said Sarwar Ali, the coalition’s chairman and a trustee of the Liberation War Museum in Bangladesh.

“But what happened after 9/11 – with restrictions placed on human rights and the cycle of revenge and the allegations of human rights abuses in prisons – must also be explored,” Ali said in a call from London.

Coalition members gathered for their annual conference at a Holocaust site in the Czech Republic in July 2004 – and assailed the United States for “reasserting its power in an arrogant way,” the conference report shows.

Among its suggestions for the place where the United States was attacked and nearly 3,000 innocents massacred: “The Freedom Center must signal its openness to contrary ideas.”

Philip Kunhardt, the Freedom Center’s editorial director, was in attendance at a session called Bringing Conscience to Ground Zero and was given this advice:

* “Help distinguish between American people and the U.S. government in exhibits …”

* “Use reports from human rights organizations to examine contemporary abuse of rights.”

* “Involve the United Nations, UNESCO and other international bodies.”

* “Use the museum as a venue for international meetings, where all views are welcomed and considered.”

At the conference, the coalition also leveled barbs at the IFC: “The Freedom Center is a caricature of the typical American response to everything [telling every story from an American viewpoint].”

Members of the coalition also expressed these concerns:

* “It seems that whatever Americans want, Americans get!” the conference report states. “Is the definition of the ‘struggle for freedom’ simply defined by the victors, or also by those engaged in ongoing struggles? Will Americans really create a balanced vision of freedom?”

* “The WTC was attacked because it was a symbol of power and influence. In building the Freedom Tower, the U.S. reasserts its power in an arrogant way: Does this mean the U.S. will not only build the biggest building, but also define freedom for the world?”

* “Many nonsecular Muslims may be very skeptical about the intent of this museum (e.g. the average Bangladeshi condemns the Sept. 11 attacks, yet at the same time feels his/her human rights have been violated by the U.S.).”

Kunhardt, an ordained Episcopal minister and the writer of the PBS series “Freedom: A History of Us,” mostly listened. He agreed with some things that were said, disagreeing with others, an observer said. He didn’t return calls.

The News also editorializes against this offensive insanity.

I’ve been saying that the IFC should be built, just not at the World Trade Center. And if someone wants to build this thing, they should build it. But judging by the company they keep, I can’t say that I’ll ever see any good reason to go there.

The Lower Manhattan Develoment Association is waiting until Sept. 23 to decide the fate of the IFC at Ground Zero. I agree with Take Back The Memorial: We must not wait until then. To have this hanging over the memorial events on the fourth anniversary of the tragedy would be an insult to the memory of those who died that day.

  • John

    Considering Pataki’s current desire to run for higher office in 2008, it’s amazing to me that just on basic political grounds, let alone moral ones, he doesn’t just decide to cut his losses after Sunday’s story in the News and dump the IFC or expidently find an off-site location in downtown to relocate it to. The people likely to be most offended by these statements are the people Pataki needs on his side — both inside and outside of New York State — if he’s to have any future at all.

  • Marthirial

    It is taking longer than expected to realize that all these disputes, re-designs, re-arragements, advice and opinions from every front possibly involved in the WTC is just a natural reaction, from the same constituencies when the agenda of few is being forced into many.

    The only reason WTC will not be build back to what it was is because that would waste a valuable opportunity for all the vermins crawling under the tent of the War on Terror to justify all that is rotten around them, from a massive mistake like this war or shameless economical exploitation or less evident – but equaly harming – personality, intelligence and civility issues.

  • owl 1

    Well, I do object Jeff to the entire IFC agenda. If the good governor and mayor do not stop this, they should be run out on a rail. This is the end result of giving moral authority to International Organizations. It is disgusting. Where have all these American self haters been hiding?

  • Its actually a pretty sensible idea. Understanding is important in these things. Terrorism was born as a tactic in America as well (remember Reagan and the Contras) so it would be good to examine all the issues. Also the role of America in creating terrorism (i.e. supporting the Shah of Iran). I would definitely visit.

  • nobody important

    We’re violating the human rights of Bangladeshis?

  • indict Bush

    Since we’re discussing 9/11, I should bring up that it’s almost four years on and it is long overdue that we do precisely what 9/11’s planners do NOT want us to do. By that I mean it is time to look at 9/11 with objective, dispassionate, realistic eyes instead of taking it at face value.

  • button

    *The WTC was attacked because it was a symbol of power and influence.*

    I remain convinced that the Twin Towers were attacked because they resembled the Pillars of Satan which are stoned during the Moslem Haj ceremony.

    I agree with you that a memorial is sufficient and that all this extraneous stuff should be eliminated.

    Whatever happened to ‘Preview’ (is your friend)? Boohoo, I miss it.

  • button

    You see what happens when I don’t have ‘Preview?!’ I think I should clarify something: I believe that Atta was trying to perform a *Working.*

    A Working is an act of Ritual Magic. And maybe I should even add: Black Magic.

    Normal Mainstream Islam would usually condemn such behavior as Sorcercy

  • I agree that what should be built at the WTC should be a memorial. Interesting read and interesting blog as well. Good work.