Jingoism or self-reflection for Ground Zero museum?

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.

  1. Crass consumerism at Ground Zero

    This is so sick that even the New York Post is appalled. Only in America could a national tragedy be parlayed into a capitalist commodity… 

    The 9/11 museum’s absurd gift shop

    The museum at Ground Zero tells the dark story of the 9/11 terror attacks with spectacular artifacts and exhibits. It pays heart-wrenching tribute to the innocents and heroes killed that day.

    It also has a gift shop.

    The 9/11 museum's cavernous boutique offers a vast array of souvenir goods. For example: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts ($22) and caps ($19.95); earrings molded from leaves and blossoms of downtown trees ($20 to $68); cop and firefighter charms by Pandora and other jewelers ($65); “United We Stand” blankets.

    There are bracelets, bowls, buttons, mugs, mousepads, magnets, key chains, flags, pins, stuffed animals, toy firetrucks, cellphone cases, tote bags, books and DVDs.

    Even FDNY vests for dogs come in all sizes.

    After paying $24 admission for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $15 for kids 7 to 17, visitors can shop till they drop

    "To me, it's the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died," Diane Horning said.