The Battle for the Soul of Ground Zero

September 22nd, 2005 2:10 PM

One kudo for the New York Times today for the front page story by David Dunlap on the important ideological battle over a proposed museum at the site of the Twin Towers ("Freedom Museum Is Headed For Showdown at Ground Zero").

Critics of the International Freedom Center, including many relatives of the victims of 9-11, contend that the proposed museum would slight the victims in favor of liberal history lessons.

In an influential Wall Street Journal op-ed, chief critic (and relative of a 9-11 victim) Debra Burlingame called the proposed museum "a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond."

She stated: "This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona." Burlingame also noted the left-wing nature of many connected to the project, including radical Columbia professor Eric Foner and left-wing billionaire George Soros.

Today Dunlap writes in the Times: "The International Freedom Center, a proposed museum that is facing expulsion from ground zero under pressure from angry relatives of 9/11 victims, will make a forceful new appeal today to stay at the World Trade Center site. The museum's decision to stand firm would force the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Gov. George E. Pataki to make a tough choice. They could either infuriate hundreds of impassioned relatives of those who died, or alienate influential cultural, academic and business figures, as well as family members who support the center." (Left-wing cultural and academic figures, of course.)

Dunlap states the opposition's case: "But the Freedom Center is now fighting for its life, in part because some victims' relatives do not want anything around the memorial that smacks of anti-American politics or detracts from the story of 9/11."

In its initial rather hostile reporting and editorials on the matter, the Times would leave out Burlingame's name and identity, something the paper would never do with say, the left-wing influenced "Jersey Girls" who attacked the Bush administration after 9-11.

The Times today notes that Burlingame, the leading critic of the Freedom Center, lost a family member on 9-11, and lets her state her case. "A leading critic of the museum, Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the pilot of the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon, said there was nothing the International Freedom Center could do to make itself palatable as a tenant at ground zero. 'They don't belong there," she said yesterday. Her criticisms began with the opening gallery. 'So the very first experience that the visitors will get when they come from Cedar Rapids, Portland, Ore., and Tallahassee, Fla., was not how we experienced 9/11 but how the people, say, in Bangladesh experienced it?' she asked."

For more coverage of the New York Times, visit TimesWatch.