Freedom Center Recriminations
October 7th, 2005

Members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s board lashed out at George Pataki yesterday, saying that he undermined the board’s effectiveness by blocking the International Freedom Center from the site. Each member of the board spoke, and while there was no formal head count, the New York Times wrote that “it was possible to infer from their statements that a majority of board members supported the Freedom Center in some form.”

This sent the New York Post into a fit of italicized invective. It noted that the head of the Freedom Center is a personal friend of a board member (a point that at least one blogger also picked up on); accused members of the board of hoping to use the site as their “personal playtoy”; and then blamed them for all the delays at Ground Zero:

They are the ones responsible for all the dithering at Downtown’s seemingly permanent pit, which has languished now for more than four years.”

By on October 7, 2005, 7:53 am
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Freedom Center Postmortem -- "a profound fear of free speech."
September 30th, 2005

An editorial in The New York Times bitterly regrets that Governor George Pataki killed the Freedom Center , despite his earlier support. “Nor does it seem to have mattered that the protest against the Freedom Center – or, more truthfully, against any cultural presence at the World Trade Center site – was based on false information and a profound fear of free speech.”

A news analysis on the arts page of the Times looks back at the controversy, and holds little hope for the other cultural components of the World Trade Center site. Robin Pogrebin’s first sentence: “It’s not easy to pinpoint the day culture died at ground zero.”

By on September 30, 2005, 2:14 pm
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Responding to the Demise of the Freedom Center
September 29th, 2005

The newspaper editorial pages offer a range of views on Governor George Pataki’s decision to cancel plans to build the International Freedom Center at the World Trade Center site.

The New York Post is full of praise. “Pataki put the International Freedom Center out of its misery yesterday, ” the editorial page writes. “Good for him.”

The Daily News, however, blames the governor for the “monumental mess” of Ground Zero. “Four years after 9/11, he doesn’t have a clue, and no one else does, as to the future of America’s sacred ground.”

The New York Sun expresses its “sadness” at the news. “While the center was at times naive or clumsy in its execution or presentation, it was admirably idealistic in its goal – a goal shared by President Bush and by so many Americans who hung flags after the attack – of making September 11, 2001, about more than just death and destruction, but about renewed patriotism and commitment to the freedom attacked on that day.”

And The New York Times’ David Dunlap wonders if the controversy over the Freedom Center has the potential to unmake everything at Ground Zero. “If ground zero is too hallowed for a freedom museum, how much longer will a performing arts center be considered appropriate? Or a million square feet of retail space? Or four office towers? Especially if one of them is named Freedom.”

By on September 29, 2005, 8:33 am
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Criticizing the Freedom Center
September 26th, 2005

Since June, the planned cultural institutions for Ground Zero have been under attack. A group including some family members of 9/11 victims, first responders, and the city’s tabloids say the International Freedom Center and the Drawing Center are “anti-American.” The critics grabbed an important ally this weekend in Hillary Clinton.

“Even Hillary agrees!” gushed the New York Post, a day after Senator Clinton said that she did not support the International Freedom Center being planned for Ground Zero, while conservative bloggers seemed to relish in the irony of agreeing with Hillary Clinton. The Post claimed that if Clinton was on board then “you’ve got to wonder: is there anyone left who still doubts that the center would be an abomination on that site?

Um, not so fast.

The Daily News, who has been in agreement with the Post on this issue, softened its line over the weekend. The newspaper said that Governor Pataki and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation had led the cultural development at Ground Zero astray by not being clear about what they wanted from the institutions involved. A report detailing the center’s intentions published last week (in .pdf format) “also allayed fears that the center would become a forum for inappropriate political squabbling or, worse, a soapbox for America-bashing,” according to the Daily News.

The newspaper now thinks the center “should get the go-ahead to keep developing their plans while trying to build public support.”

By on September 26, 2005, 7:27 am
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Freedom Center II
September 23rd, 2005

International Freedom Center The International Freedom Center’s release of a report (in pdf) about its plans for the proposed museum at Ground Zero seems neither to have changed many opinions or dimmed the overheated rhetoric.

While some argue the museum will inevitably become a place to bash America, Bing, writing in America in Exile, a blog of “progressive friends,” opposes the center from a different angle — that 9/11 had nothing to do with freedom. “The people who died that day did not die for freedom. Their death did not advance the cause of freedom,” Bing says, adding “The Bush administration’s reaction to 9/11 didn’t advance freedom” either.

Supporting the center, Newsday disagrees “Freedom was an organizing principle of America. Our commitment to it is why America was attacked on 9/11,” the paper says. “What better place to examine its history and power”

And the Times editorial focuses on what it sees as efforts to censor the museum. “Since late June the Freedom Center has been caught up in a vitriolic protest …whose leaders claim for themselves the right of deciding for the rest of us what we should know and think about 9/11.”

Also irate at the process, Jeff Jarvis draws a different conclusion in “Buzz Machine.” With all the meddling and censorship, the term Freedon Center has become an oxymoron. So, says Jarvis, “If the IFC had the conviction of its principles of freedom, it would have rejected the demands of Gov. Pataki and the Lower ManhattanDevelopment Corp. to build the inoffensive center as an offense to free speech.”

By on September 23, 2005, 8:36 am
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The International Freedom Center
September 22nd, 2005

As the deadline for a decision on The International Freedom Center at Ground Zero approaches, two more groups have come out and criticized the plan. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said it opposed the plan and three key New York congressmen threatened hearings into the appropriateness on federal funding at Ground Zero. The New York Post editorial argues that these groups and others before them worried that the center that is meant to celebrate “freedom” will degenerate into just one more bash-America venue. “The IFC … is meant to be an academically oriented “educational” center. You know what that means: Counting how many ways there are to blame America for the world’s ills, including the 9/11 attacks themselves.”

By on September 22, 2005, 12:53 pm
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