The latest sorry debacle over the slow and tempestuous redevelopment of New York’s Ground Zero concerns plans for an International Freedom Center on the site. Survivors groups are protesting that the museum will not be exclusively dedicated to the 9-11 disaster, but will also feature material on Nazi and Soviet tyranny, American slavery and the Native American genocide. As one survivor at a “Take Back the Memorial” protest at Ground Zero told Bloomberg news June 20, “Instead of being immersed in 9-11, we’ll be discussing world politics.”
With all due respect to the survivors and memory of the victims, we think it legitimate—even vital—to point out that 9-11 happened in the context of “world politics.” The same totalitarian insensitivity to life that characterized the Nazis was at work in the 9-11 perpetrators (whoever exactly they were)—and, we must point out, something not too far removed from it was at work in the retaliatory bombardment of Afghanistan and Iraq. (The early prototype for “Shock & Awe” was Guernica, remember?)
The front page of the Daily News June 24 indignantly protested that one of the groups invited into the museum, a Soho gallery called The Drawing Center, had recently exhibited “anti-American” art (see editorial). Among the images the News finds offensive is a painting using famous images from Abu Ghraib.
While it is amazing that the redevelopment bureaucracy failed to vet The Drawing Center for such controversial images, we think the Daily News has got it dead wrong. Abu Ghraib was a part of the political fallout from 9-11, and dealing with that karma is entirely appropriate for any Ground Zero memorial. Does the News feel that the memory of the dead would be better served by mere self-congratulatory jingoism?
See our last post on the ongoing battle over 9-11’s legacy in New York City.