Do not build it. Not here.

The International Freedom Center just released its last-gasp effort to stay at the World Trade Center over the objections of family members, fire fighters, police, and folks like me. Some reaction:

* The most important and most ironic: If the IFC had the conviction of its principles of freedom, it would have rejected the demands of Gov. Pataki and the LMDC to build the inoffensive center as an offense to free speech. It is impossible to create the inoffensive, especially in this age of offense and especially about such an explosive cluster of subjects. The IFC should have said thanks but no thanks and withdrawn to build its center elsewhere, as all those opposed to its presence at the World Trade Center have urged. But by trying to write a compromise proposal, it only compromises its stand. I don’t blame them for the position they’re in; I blame Pataki et al. But I do blame them for staying in that position.

* The IFC assumes a link between the struggle for freedom and the deaths that day. Says the IFC:

It will tangibly link September 11 and the lives of its victims
to humanity’s greatest idea: freedom.

But what is that link? Nothing about September 11th was about liberating people. The people who were killed that day were free. They were not struggling to be free. The murderers, too, were free and exploited that freedom to commit this act. Of course, I support the celebration of freedom; who but a tyrant or a terrorist would not? But the struggle here is not against or for freedom. The struggle here is for civilization against extremism, fanaticism, and criminality. So make your center, elsewhere, about terrorism, then. Have your seminars and events and debates about extremism. Study religious fanaticism. This actually is not about freedom.

* They keep drawing parallels to a Gettysburg museum, with copious quotes from its president. I don’t buy it. Gettysburg has the benefit of a century’s perspective. September 11th was only four years ago. It is way too soon and too hubristic to believe that we know what it means or can display that.

* They want to open the museum with reaction to the event from elsewhere in the world. I’m not fully sure why that strikes me as so discordant, but it does. Does it assume that we need to validation of world opinion to think what we think? Does it paint us in the position of victim? Does it leave unsaid the sick truth that there were those elsewhere in the world who celebrated September 11th?

The IFC says that as soon as people come to the center, they will…

…learn that Canada declared a national day of mourning and that 100,000 people gathered at a service in Ottawa; that in Berlin the crowd numbered 200,000; that at a soccer match in Tehran…

Well, will they also learn how Canada and Germany treated the U.S. during the Iraq war and how Iran subjugates its own people and, potentially, threatens the world with nuclear weapons? What is the UNesque agenda?

* The IFC promises:

Next to the Memorial, with views overlooking the entire site, the International Freedom Center will help bring hope and resolve to a place of tragedy and grief.

How? Aren’t hope and grief essentally personal? And the only true resolve I see will be victory over the terrorists.

* If you’re going to open a study center, don’t study us. Study terror.

* If you’re going to celebrate our freedom, I can think of no better way than to celebrate the lives of the heroes and innocents of that day, not abstractions about them. So this much I agree with:

The film will show how the World Trade Center attracted people from all over the globe to a place in which national and cultural differences were subsumed in trade and commerce–how Lower Manhattan has, in essence, always been an international freedom center, drawing people to a dream of free and better lives.

* On the “freedom walk,” visitors will see exhibits about…

…the signing of the Declaration of Independence; Gandhi leading the Salt March; Martin Luther King, Jr. writing his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”; one man’s confrontation with tanks near Tiananmen Square; the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Some have already questioned why these outside events and the struggle for civil rights in this country are here. I will also ask: What about current struggles for freedom? What about the struggle of Arab lands and China for democracy? What about the tyranny of terrorism from Palestinian terrorism? What about the genocides in Africa? You want to talk struggles for freedom, then let’s talk Saudi Arabia and move on from there.

The IFC says: “The Walk will not attempt to offer a comprehensive survey of freedom.” Ah, but every decision about what is to be included and not included shows a bias, a prejudice, a chance to offend.

The IFC tries to brush that aside by promising that “emphasis will be placed upon stories and ideas that are positive, inspirational, and educational.” What does that mean?

Educational? Last night, I was helping my son study for a history test today and one of the subjects was the Crusades. You know, I said, that has a lot to do with September 11th (a day my children know all too much about). He looked at me as if there were impossible or insane. I tried to explain the link and I acknowledged that, yes, it should be impossible and it is insane.

Are you going to teach about the Crusades? Or is that still too sensitive?

* The IFC, the Aspen Institute, and various universities will hold events in Freedom Hall:

Freedom Hall will also offer the public an array of evening lectures, symposia, discussions, and special events that will be designed to help people engage more thoroughly with the IFC’s exhibits. This programming is being crafted in response to the LMDC’s directive that all cultural institutions at Ground Zero “conduct forums drawing from cultural and academic resources in the region, building an identity for the World Trade Center site as a place of inquiry and discussion.” … The programming will be overseen by the IFC’s staff and Board working with The Aspen Institute and the members of the consortium. It will be presented with civility and respect–the very values the IFC hopes to promote in the wider community–and in keeping with the solemnity of the Ground Zero ite.

OK, so when Ward Churchill is invited by one of the universities to speak here, what do you do? Do you put him on a black list? How consistent with your principles is that? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely the no-win position you are demanding to be in. And I’m shocked that these universities agreed to join in a site where they will have government-imposed restrictions on what they say and how they can say it. That just won’t work.

* I find it unseemly and exploitive that they went off and found their own family members of the dead to feud with the family members who have objected to this center.

* I find it to be a damning indication of their lack of openness that the IFC did not attach or address any of the concerns or complaints issued by other families of 9/11’s heroes and innocents, by other citizens, and by two of New York’s three daily papers.

Once again, I’ll emphasize that I do not object to anyone building a freedom center to explain and explore the issues this center proposes. But not atop the memorial to the dead of September 11th. Not here. Not now.

The IFC should have had the good sense and decency and firm principle to pull out. It has not. Now the politicians who created this difficult situation are the ones who must end this. Do not build it. Not here.

: One of my many prior posts on this here.

  • Ed Poinsett

    Jeff, another outstanding post on this travesty.

  • Right on, Jeff. I work across from the WTC site in Jersey City, and go through it several times a week. I wonder if the IFC’s proponents have a clue as to why it is so offensive. I wonder if its backers undrstand why co-opting this tragedy for obviously political reasons is shameful.

    I wonder what the IFC says about the debasement of American popular culture.

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  • David

    If the IFC analogy is apt with regards to Gettysburg, they should have a whole room on Bismark and the Austro-Prussian War. Last time I checked it wasn’t there. Perhaps we should bombard the director of the Gettysburg and ask him why there isn’t a big section on that very important war?

    Perhpas the IFC should have a “Golden Horde” room, I don’t see why they should let time get in the way of discusssing crimes against Islam.

  • owl 1

    Great post! Any politician that deliberately helps IFC build in that location….well…I am okay with hanging by thumbs.

  • It is ironic they talk about Gettysburg, since the Gettysburg Address since it says that the men who struggled there have hallowed the ground, meaning they have made the ground holy. Presumably then they believe ground zero is also hallowed ground. The irony is that traditionally one does not build on holy ground, be it indian burial sites or sites of other religious significance.

  • Yes, awesome posts! Reading your thoughts is very enjoyable. I agree that the museum should be built elsewhere. Building it there just seems innapropriate to me.

  • Yes, let’s get world opinion in there. Perhaps they’ll have a fresh opinion on a pointless attack born of bitterness and hate on innocent, helpless civilians. Maybe someone else can see past our hoplessly narrowminded view of this as a horror and a tragedy.

    The terrorists wanted to see a proud achievement, one of the world’s tallest buildings and most successful centers of commerce, razed to the ground. Let’s show them the respect they earned by their heroic actions and let that place lay barren. A monument to Osama.

  • Jim Coates

    Not here.

    Absolutely, very much like the “Let’s Roll” controversy.

    May I suggest an alternate location for IFC to focus on?

    The courtyard at Turtle bay.

  • Absolutely right, Jeff. Absolutely.

    A Democratic consultant as well as Joe Trippi are on the board, so the intent, I’m sure, is to make it another extreme Democrat/moveon propaganda site. Note how they have an out (not a comprehensive survey) so they can avoid talking about Islam, or the Palestinians, or Clinton’s sleepwalk through his terrorist chaallenges.

    They are showing the support of other nations to drive home the implication, as if we have not heard this a million times already, that Bush squandered that sympathy.

    Why is so important to them to have that particular site? Because they HATE us and cannot abide our grief and our anger.

  • Rich Vail

    Excellent post…beware of the instalanche!

  • Athena1040

    Will there be any reference to the:
    20 Saudi hijackers?
    State Department employees who approved visas?
    tape of Osama Ben Laden taking responsibility for the violence?
    The Koran?
    The preceding decades of jihai violence?

    For international perspective what about highlighting jihadi violence in:

    What about demonstrating

  • Mr. Jarvis, this was your best! Absolutely your best!

    Thank you.

  • The site does not need anything but a list of our dead and the steel cross.

    Anything more is crass and just plain wrong.

  • Brian

    Maybe the reason the IFC is going forward with this proposal is that the principals figure that once a judge declares the museum a “public forum,” the IFC can get away with Ward Churchill, America-haters and Israel-haters from Columbia University and other sundry ideological scum defiling the graves of the 9/11 heroes.

  • Jim, Mtn View, CA

    Thanks for reporting on this in such an eloquent way.
    Is there something ordinary folks can do to back people opposing this or to register our feelings with decision makers?

  • Geo Walsh

    Jeff, please keep at this. I agree with your underlying logic that there is no connection, or at least a positive connection, between what happened at that place on 9/11 and the concept of “freedom” that the IFC professes to honor and memorialize. (I use scare quotes because I’m not convinced that freedom is what the IFC really is promoting. I think they want to humiliate America — why else invite foreign viewpoints that would only condescend, why else make a permanent aspect of it our collective victimhood?)

    In fact, by creating a memorial to their concept of “freedom” at the WTC site is to imply that what happened that morning was a part of the real struggle for freedom, freedom in it’s non-ironic sense. In other words, the attack was a blow for freedom. If contemplating 9/11 makes you think of the struggle for freedom around the world, instead of grief and anger at the loss of so much innocent life, than you think like the terrorists. Simply put, such a person hates America. The IFC is saying “we deserved it” and Atta is a freedom fighter instead of a vicious killer. To me it is that obvious.

  • Geo Walsh

    Sorry, to clarify a point, I should have said why else than to humiliate the US would they make a theme of the IFC our permanent victimhood. We were certainly victims that day, but our fight against the terrorists shows we are not permanent victims.

    I agree with Dale Amon’s comment. It is a cemetery. Not a Ward Churchill symposium.

  • Nathan

    I think your response is right on. Two points:

    1) There is a serious Constitutional problem with the government building a public forum as part of a monument and then regulating the speech therein. And even if it were not arguably illegal for them to do so, do we really want to trust bureaucrats and/or academics to decide what is civil and respectful?

    2) High-minded polemics from foreign leaders to some inoffensive, vanilla notion of freedom are not what we need to memorialize this site. What we need is one hell of a tall building, a living monument to *real* freedom–the kind of freedom that came under attack that day, and is still struggling against its enemies. Political freedom. Commercial freedom. The kind of freedom that makes dreams come true every day all over the world. The kind of freedom on which we are not taking lessons from Germany or Canada.

  • Nathan

    Or Tehran!

  • Sergio

    The IFC is trying to “universalize” the September 11th attacks, and that universalitzation is the first step in taking that day away from the victims, the firefighters and the cops, and the American people as a whole, and handing it to the gatekeepers of global intellectual morality: the professors, NGO bureaucrats, and “artists” – the very people who, in the immediate wake of the attack, sought to “understand” the terrorists (aka blame America). They’re trying to turn an attack on our nation, our people, and everything WE stand for (not everything that Europe, for example, stands for, as they’ve ‘stood’ for our values for about a minute, while we were protecting them from the Soviets, and certainly not any longer) into a global lesson, an ABSTRACTION. There was nothing abstract about that day. There was an attack, where Islamist death cult suicide bombers murders thousands of Americans, and there were instances of unfathomable bravery by the FDNY and NYPD. Now we are at war with the Islamist death cult. That’s the end of the story. When you start talking about MLK and Ghandi and whatever you’ve turned a real life, flesh and blood (lots of flesh and lots of blood, falling from the sky) event, into a graduate school seminar. Turning the site into a “Freedom center” is, ultimately, not that different from the professors who write lengthy analysis explaining Al Qaeda and helping us “understand” our would-be killers. The amazing thing in all of this is that these people have managed to get the RINO governor of New York on their side. If nothing else, it should remind all New Yorkers of how wrecked and useless their own Republican party tends to be.

  • Sergio

    BTW, thank you Jeff, for this post. I’ve had my doubts about you in the past, perhaps because I saw you – like Pataki – as more than willing to kow-tow to the Manhattan cocktail party set. But you got this one absolutely right. Thank you.

  • Here’s what they _should_ build there…

  • John Blake

    In listing all the repressive and totalitarian regimes this hideously misconceived “memorial” omits to mention, your posts conspicuously fail to note the long-standing Red Chinese occupation of Tibet. In duration, scale, and “Kultur-cidal” thrust, this long-standing affront to civilized behaviour, which directly contradicts everything Mao’s heirs excrete, is worthy of a Memorial all to itself.

    Berlin has taken down the crosses “memorializing” Checkpoint Charlie as impertinent reminders of Honecker’s true nature. I guarantee you, the 9/11 site will soon enough eradicate every mention of Islamofascist terrorism, in favor of some CAIR-based drivel about its “religion of peace” and so on. When the last Imam is strangled with the entrails of the last Iranian mullah, the last Saudi prince; when the first Christian church rises unobstructed over Tehran and Riyadh, MAYBE we’ll let the 72 sloe-eyed Hawiri of the prophet’s fantasies toss CAIR’s murderous thugs in the ashcan of history with Marx and Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Saloth Sar. Until then, let ’em rot, and leave Ground Zero to remind us of who they truly are.

  • david weiss

    Did you leave out the part where the IFC is going to pay homage to the greatest freedom fighter since abe Lincoln – George W. Bush? They are, aren’t they?

  • Jim Mt. View,
    Write to Pataki and Bloomberg and your local congress rep and let them know how you feel.

    Also go to and check out all their suggestions for action.

  • daudder

    the world supported the US after 9/11 in an unprecedented manner. The Bush Administration (not the US) took that support to war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Much of the world reacted not in support of that action. Sad that many do not think there is anything to learn from this.

  • Colin

    Thank you, Jeff. Keep up the pressure on this because I feel that it is really important. That event defined this century, and the IFC just feels wrong. Wrong wrong.

    The IFC can certainly exist, as you say. They might have very interesting perspectives to share (I’m sure). But it just seems entirely inappropriate to build it on that site.

  • penny

    Interesting that leftist moonbats and their PC minions haven’t had the gaul to desecrated the site of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor with their lunacy. But, then, I’ve noticed a few revisionist weasels on the left have surfaced to equate that Bush=Hitler on other threads here, a rather lame analogy if you have a grasp of history.

    The WTC is a burial ground, like the USS Arizona, where innocents died in a sickening attack by the forces of evil.

    Much of the world reacted not in support of that action. Sad that many do not think there is anything to learn from this.

    Well, dauber, much of the world, especially Europe, lives the PC leftist minions scrip where all things are relative especially if ideologically convenient to advance ones agenda. Roosevelt had his detractors too. History will judge.

  • Newsday is conducting an online poll regarding the IFC. Vote Now! And Make Your Voice Heard!,0,4578562.poll?coll=nyc-homepage-breaking2

  • Nathan


    Let’s assume you’re right: the support of the world community was genuine and unprecedented and squandered on a foolish war and we have an important lesson to learn from this. Even so, do you really think Ground Zero is the right place for the lecture? If, as you say, the Iraq war had nothing to do with 9/11, why should a memorial to 9/11 be dedicated to debunking the Iraq war? Why not save that for the editorial pages?

  • John

    If the IFC people think their site is so important, on its own, then they should have no objection to building the museum off-site, but still in the area. The fact that as of now the refuse to concent to a location that’s not on the 16 acres of Ground Zero shows this is more of an attempt to get a foot in the door to influence the entire tone of the WTC memorial than it is to provide some type of non-partisan lesson about Sept. 11.

    Those who are trying to push a “We’re just as bad as everyone else” ideology know an IFC site on Ground Zero couldn’t be ignored, while one a few blocks away could, and would eventually gather cobwebs and tumbleweeds from lack of attendance. But at the same time, a off-site museum that actually does what its proponents claim it will do would still draw attendance from visitors, since it would not be offensive to the memories of the victims of 9/11, or to their families.

  • Mike G

    I’ve been having some funny problems with my email program lately and got this, which might be of interest:

    September 11, 2009

    9:30 am– Heinz Kerry Pavilion
    Reading of the names of the Iraq War dead, by Senator Sheehan
    Musical performance by the cast of Flight 93: The Musical
    Introductory remarks by President Clinton

    10:30 am– Start of Macy’s 9-11 Day Parade (at Citibank Ground Zero Botanicarium)
    Co-Grand Marshals: Prince Edward and Princess Brittany Spears-Windsor

    12 noon– Said Auditorium
    Debate: America in the Middle East: Wicked Imperialist or Malignant Blunderer?
    Participants; Howard Zinn, Mark Crispin Miller, and Matt Taibbi, author of There’s Still Time to Impeach Former President Bush
    Hosted by Tina Brown
    (simulcast on

    6 pm– reception/dance for corporate sponsors, Prince Fahd Ballroom

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  • daudder

    …promoting the concept and goal of freedom and peace are now “lectures”. Nice.

  • Chris

    What’s with the Canada bash Jeff? I agree with the basic principles of your argument, but, was there really a need to throw a jab at Canada over the Iraq War? So what that Canadians were killed in the 9/11 attacks as well. So what that we supported you in Afghanistan. So what that we sacrificed 6 of our soldiers for *your* pilot error, and then accepted that this was simply a cost of war. So what that we are your closest trading partner, yet we garnish the respect of an unwanted pimple. Yes, Canadians disagreed with Americans (the 70% who supported the war… I guess that’s more like 50% now) over Iraq. Specifically, we thought the justification for war seemed like a lot of BS (not that we made the right call or anything, or was Bush’s justification always “freedom spreadin'” or whatever it is this week). Come on Jeff… you’re better than that.

  • Kris

    “Well, will they also learn how Canada and Germany treated the U.S. during the Iraq war…”

    *sob* Oh, damn those cruel Canucks and Krauts! (I wonder where the French are? C’mon, c’mon, Jeff, how could you forget the dastardly French who betrayed us and left us out alone in the hot Iraqi desert, besides their general faults of being smelly and, uh, smelly, and, uh, French?)

    Last time I checked, the only people who have been treating US citizens badly during the Iraq war are the insurgents or terrorists or whatever you might call those bastards, in any case none of them Germans or Canadians. And last time I checked, it wasn’t a German or a Canadian leader who said “bring ’em on!” to the terrorists in Iraq.

    There was a fairly good case for the war in Afghanistan. That’s where the terrorist’s nest was (or maybe still is). That’s where Germany and many other European nations have pledged support and sent thousands of troops and substantial amounts of taxpayer money.

    But it’s not the fault of Germany or Canada that the entire case for the Iraq war was *exclusively* based on the “WMD plus Al-Qaeda links” story, a story that has turned out to be utter bullshit, no matter how you twist and turn it. Maybe it was an honest mistake, maybe it was a blatant lie. But in any case, stop whining about lack of support from countries who have been bullied to believe something that has turned out to be plain wrong. Joschka Fischer was ridiculed for his remark to a seemingly confident Colin Powell in the buildup of the Iraq war, stating “I’m sorry, I am not convinced” in a thin and shaking voice. Fischer was right. Powell was wrong, and it’s to his great credit that he has admitted, if somewhat late. I wonder what his opinion would be now as to who treated whom badly during the Iraq war?

  • Jimmy

    This wole thing has gone way overboard. The last time I checked we lived in a free country. If the families of the September 11 victims don’t like a specific exhibit they should do what every free American has the hard-won right to do: speak out, protest, and/or boycott. Instead of comdemning something before it’s even built perhaps they should be putting their energies into more important things. It seems to me this whole debate has lost sight of just what these terrorist bastards were attacking: OUR FREEDOMS. The whole deabte has become far more politicized than it ever needed to be. Now you have people throwing around crap about who or who didn’t support the US’s war in Iraq (damn those democratic countries!), whether it’s too liberal to Bush-adoring. Please! All this righteous indignation dishonors the dead more than anything the IFC might or might not do.

  • Sweetie

    “So what that we sacrificed 6 of our soldiers for *your* pilot error”

    So what have we done for Canada lately, eh?

    You have a fine country. There are also many fine European countries that are wonderful to live in. But when those that live under dictators, authoritarian mullahs, desert Princes and Great Leaders start looking to Canada for hope and freedom we’ll have something to talk about.

  • daudder

    Sweetie, it’s good that Nationalism has been so good for the world, and leads to peace, freedom and everyone getting along. USA! USA!

  • Sweetie

    Daudder, you crack me up.

    Is a serious rebuttal forthcoming? Or were you expecting me to answer back with ‘Canada! Canada!’ because you cited the fortitude of Canadians for not falling to pieces when your six soldiers died?

  • whodat

    “The whole deabte has become far more politicized than it ever needed to be. ”

    Hmmmm….and where did that start??

    Do we really have to keep going through this? Look at the names, look at thier quotes and affiliaitons. Soros, Foner, et al. The poll The Zoner posted earlier on Newsday? When I clicked it was approx. 8500 to 100 that were in favor of a memorial only.

    John nailed it “…know an IFC site on Ground Zero couldn’t be ignored, while one a few blocks away could, and would eventually gather cobwebs and tumbleweeds from lack of attendance. “

  • owl 1

    Jimmy, every single thing I read about the IFC offends me. That Red Cresent offends me and it would have offended the “let’s roll” crew.

    I don’t want touchy-feely. I agree with JimCoates. Move them both to Turtle Bay if you want to debate how we “incited those poor innocents” to come kill us because of all of our meanie policies. Rather like the abused wife….. he wouldn’t have beat her if she had not provoked him? Same thing.

  • Bruce

    “But it’s not the fault of Germany or Canada that the entire case for the Iraq war was *exclusively* based on the “WMD plus Al-Qaeda links” story, a story that has turned out to be utter bullshit, no matter how you twist and turn it.”

    Actually, your statement is bullshit. Go read the original resolution if you don’t believe me. WMDs were one of a number of justifications put forth for the war; 12 years of disregarding the conditions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War, for instance, as well as their persistence in locking on our planes with missiles in the no-fly zones. “WMDs were the reason for the invasion” is largely a creation of press accounts.

  • > …the entire case for the Iraq war was *exclusively* based on the “WMD plus Al-Qaeda links” story, a story that has turned out to be utter bullshit, no matter how you twist and turn it.

    This is Liberal Lie Numero Uno from somebody with a selective memory and too much sympathy for mass murderers.

    Iraq had a WMD program solidly in place. That is an indisputable fact. And they were supporting and protecting Al Qaeda terrorists, among other terrorists, well before the invasion.

    But even beyond these “details” which you smugly brush off as “bullshit,” there were many other reasons that made the war inevitable, if not when it was launched, then a little later, which would have been a much more disastrous campaign.

    But whether you think the war was a good idea or not, the outright betrayal from France, Russia and Germany, and the culprits at the UN, who went out of their way to materially support Saddam and even militarily helped him kill American soldiers, was unacceptable.

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