August 3, 2005


A Sense of Proportion at Ground Zero (NY Times, 7/29/05)

The attacks on the International Freedom Center - and, more broadly, on the cultural component of Daniel Libeskind's master plan - make it all too easy to forget the existence of a Memorial Museum that is devoted wholly to the events of 9/11. Opponents of the Freedom Center, like Ms. Burlingame, claim that the Memorial Museum will be dwarfed by the cultural center. In fact, they overstate the size of the Snohetta building, which is being scaled back for other reasons, and they have exaggerated the floor space allotted there for the International Freedom Center. They also make it sound as if the Memorial Museum, which at 50,000 square feet is larger than the public spaces in the Whitney Museum, is somehow an afterthought relegated to the basement. It will be built underground, but that is because the 9/11 families asked to have access to the bedrock and to what remains of the foundation of the twin towers. To argue over the size of these two spaces is to assume that emotional power is solely the result of square footage. It is also to forget the profound effect that going to the roots of the World Trade Center will have on most visitors.

But this is not really a campaign about money or space. It is a campaign about political purity - about how people remember 9/11 and about how we choose to read its aftermath, including the Iraq war. On their Web site,, critics of the cultural plan at ground zero offer a resolution called Campaign America. It says that ground zero must contain no facilities "that house controversial debate, dialogue, artistic impressions, or exhibits referring to extraneous historical events." This, to us, sounds un-American.

My lefty professors in college used to make fun of people who said that.

Posted by David Hill at August 3, 2005 12:19 AM

I've heard Gail Collins talk politics to a room full of people and, yes, she does combine both egotism and ignorance into one package (even the head of AP in Texas ripped her over the pompous comments she made in her speech).

The only way I can imagine Gail got plucked out of a communmity newspaper in Connecticut to eventually get the job as the paper's editoral page editor was when she found one of Pinch Sulzberger's Golden Tickets stuffed into her copy of the Times one morning with all the other Sunday inserts.

Posted by: John at August 3, 2005 12:33 AM

I don't think it's so much the concept that is objectionable, just that no one trusts them. And why should we? It's bound to be offensive in some way. People can't help themselves.

Posted by: RC at August 3, 2005 7:02 AM

Gail Collins has been haunting NY newspapers for about 3 decades now. She was originally brought here by the Daily Snooze.

Where did this notion come from that star chambers of self-appointed bien pensants get to decide what the rest of us should see in our national memorials, what forms of 'art' our tax dollars should be spent on? That is the stuff of Ancien Regime France not a Republic.

Posted by: bart at August 3, 2005 8:17 AM

If the Times wants a museum to explain how the West caused 9/11 (and is presently provoking the next coming attack), they can open one on 43rd St.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 3, 2005 9:59 AM

Efforts such as the Freedom center should be given the same status at the memorial as graffiti.

Posted by: Genecis at August 3, 2005 12:07 PM