[T]his 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, www.takebackthememorial.org, 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.
They give themselves some wiggly room ("sounds to us"), but their point is clear: the NYT considers it "un-American" to oppose building a come-one-come-all political venue at the Ground Zero memorial. They continue blowing a "free speech" smoke screen to obscure the controversy: public funds are to be used to build a permanent institution at Ground Zero dedicated to airing political discourse, some of which will no doubt be sympathetic to the terrorists who murdered thousands there. Why else would the NYT be so concerned about "how people remember 9/11 and about how we choose to read its aftermath, including the Iraq war"? Is the NYT afraid that a memorial site dedicated solely to 9/11 will lead visitors to "politically incorrect" conclusions?
If the publicly funded "cultural facilities" are built, it would be censorship to regulate what artists and speakers say. That is why the "cultural facilities" must not be built at the WTC memorial site. Take Back The Memorial continues its petition drives (details here).
The 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center should be a place for remembrance of those we lost and 9/11 should be allowed to speak to each visitor to Ground Zero, uninterrupted. At Dachau, I saw no debate being held about Chilean refugees. At Gettysburg, I saw no Holocaust "art" center overlooking Little Round Top. At Martin Luther King Jr.'s memorial in Atlanta, I saw no "public square" where the discussion might include the merits of segregation nor would anyone need to be reminded how wholly inappropriate such a discussion at that marker would be. 9/11's history should not be up for grabs and holding political discussions at Ground Zero is not appropriate for that site or any memorial site. Placing unrelated activities upon hallowed ground is disrespectful to those who fell at such places and everyone who remembers them.
UPDATE III -- Aug. 2: From the New York Daily News: Honor only the 9/11 dead by Dennis Smith.
I cannot speak for the families of 9/11, but I do have many in those groups who are my friends, and I believe my measure of their views to be correct. They see the Drawing Center and the Freedom Center to be inappropriate institutions for a site where so many have died. The First Amendment rights of such institutions would always prevail, and consequently the possibility would always exist for an exhibition to be an affront to the reverence that should be felt at Ground Zero.
Speaking of 9/11 families, I noticed that The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund is holding a raffle to benefit the 953 9/11 children covered by the fund. It was a reminder to me that thousands of children lost parents and loved ones on September 11, 2001. What do we want them to see at the WTC memorial?
From BBC: Zimbabwe report discussed at UN.
The UN Security Council has discussed a report on Zimbabwe's controversial slum demolition campaign, despite opposition from a number of member countries.
The report, prepared by UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, said the drive had left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused untold human misery.
The UK and US led calls for it to be discussed, but countries including China and Russia were opposed. They said it would amount to meddling in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. ...
Despite pleas for an end to Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish), riot police continue to demolish illegally-built structures in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. ...
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says the demolitions are intended to weed out criminals and black-market traders he accuses of bringing down the economy.
The Zimbabwean opposition says the evictions are meant to punish urban residents, who mostly vote against the government.
Last week's UN report said the campaign violated international law and Secretary General Kofi Annan himself called it a "catastrophic injustice" to Zimbabwe's poorest.
UPDATE -- July 31: Gateway Pundit has more: Zimbabwe Continues Secret Genocide.
From CNN: Documents, Timing Mar Roberts Confimation.
WASHINGTON -- While the Bush administration began handing over 75,000 pages penned by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts without an official request from senators, one Democrat is already raising questions about the White House's refusal to share papers claimed to be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Meanwhile, senators on Wednesday continued to squabble over when the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee would begin; Republicans want to get started around Aug. 29, while Democrats argue they're being pressured to move forward on a nominee they don't know enough about yet.
And Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will vote whether to send Roberts name to the full Senate for confirmation, said Wednesday that he will vote against Roberts if the judge seems likely to pursue an "activist" philosophy. But Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who also sits on the committee, said Roberts assured him he is no ideologue.
From The Detroit Free Press: Armstrong goes out on top with seventh Tour title.
PARIS -- He stood stock-still, right hand covering his heart, and listened to the U.S. national anthem being played along the wide boulevard of the Champs-Elysees. And just like that, it was over.
The moment Lance Armstrong had alternately dreaded and dreamed about in the deepest reaches of his competitive soul hit him full force. He stared straight ahead and drew his lips tight, the only way he knew to keep the tears from being loosed.
But a bit later, as he addressed the crowd from the victory stand Sunday following his unprecedented seventh straight Tour de France victory, Armstrong delivered a defense of his sport in a parting shot that rang out as defiant instead of tearful.
"The last thing I'll say to the people that don't believe in cycling, the cynics, the skeptics, I'm sorry for you," Armstrong said, alluding to those who think he and the best riders use performance-enhancing drugs. "I'm sorry you can't dream big, and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles.
"This is a great sporting event, and you should stand around and believe, and you should believe in these people. I'm a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live, and there are no secrets. This is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So vive le Tour. Forever."
UPDATE -- July 27: From the Ayn Rand Institute: Lance Armstrong's Heroism Is a Moral Inspiration by Andrew Bernstein.
When Lance Armstrong rode through Paris on Sunday, crowning his unprecedented seventh consecutive victory in the grueling Tour de France, he put an exclamation mark on what is more than merely an extraordinary athletic career.
By this time, the entire world knows Armstrong's story--his remarkable recovery from what was feared to be terminal cancer, his exhausting training program, his legendary endurance, his dauntless determination, his unequalled dominance of cycling’s premier event. Millions around the world properly celebrate him and his lofty accomplishments.
But what explains the enormous interest in Armstrong's success--or that of any other sports hero? Why do sports fans set such a strong personal stake in the victories of their heroes? After all, little of any practical significance depends on such victories; a seventh Armstrong win won't get his fans a raise or help send their children to college. Why do sports have such an enormous, enduring appeal in human life?
The answer lies in a rarely recognized aspect of sports: their moral significance. What athletic victories provide is a rare and crucial moral value: the sight of human achievement.
From CNN: Teamsters, SEIU quit AFL-CIO.
The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union voted Monday to withdraw from the AFL-CIO. The announcement came on the first day of the 50-year-old labor federation's annual meeting.
James Hoffa of the Teamsters and Andy Stern of SEIU told reporters they each notified AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on Monday morning in a letter after their executive boards unanimously agreed to disaffiliate.
"What John Sweeney has been doing has not been working and it's time to try something new," said Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
He predicted to CNN that seven other international unions would soon bolt from the AFL-CIO and join the Teamsters.
"It is not done lightly. We have extended a number of propositions and ideas to the AFL-CIO to make sure that we could change the tide of the AFL-CIO.
"We have been disappointed over the last 10 years that we have seen a decline in membership," he said, referring to Sweeney's decade-long tenure as president. ...
The dissident unions have a combined membership of nearly 5 million workers -- about a third of the AFL-CIO's total membership. Their leaders have accused Sweeney of putting more money into political campaigns at the expense of union organizing.
From Robert Tracinski in today's TIA Daily:
Why do Democrats keep losing elections? The Marxist roots of their philosophy makes them dependent on the support of a dwindling number of pressure groups who accept the collectivist premise that individuals can only survive and prosper by banding together into a collective and demanding political power -- which happens to be a perfect description of the philosophy at the root of labor unions.
The problem? The unions have been dying for a long time, as they fell from representing 30% of private sector workers about a half century ago, to representing fewer than 8% of workers (not counting the massive government employee unions) today. Now the AFL-CIO is splitting apart as its members argue over how to resuscitate a collectivist movement in a culture that has refused to embrace collectivism.
Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam of Islam's most holy mosque, Al-Haram in Mecca, holds one of the most prestigious posts in Sunni Islam. ...
In his Friday sermon of July 15, 2005, Sheikh Al-Sudayyis said: "Oh Allah, liberate our Al-Aqsa Mosque from the defilement of the occupying and brutal Zionists... Oh Allah, punish the occupying Zionists and their supporters from among the corrupt infidels. Oh Allah, scatter and disperse them, and make an example of them for those who take heed."
It should be noted that the website www.alminbar.net, which regularly posts Al-Sudayyis's sermons, edited out the above segment, as did the Saudi Gazette, which regularly reports on his sermons.
Little Green Footballs has other recent news from Saudi Arabia: Al Qaeda-Connected Prince Will Bridge the Gap with US.
John Cox -- the illustrator half of Cox & Forkum -- will be signing books and drawing caricatures this Saturday, July 23, from 3:30 to 5:00pm at the Mental Stimulation bookstore in Decatur, Georgia, a township due east of Atlanta.
You can bring your own C&F books by for John's signature, or if you buy our book Black & White World II or any other book at the store, John will draw your caricature. Here's your chance to be immortalized along with George W. Bush and John Kerry! So stop by this Saturday.
DIRECTIONS: Mental Stimulation is located at 533 West Howard Avenue in Decatur. From downtown Decatur take Commerce Drive until it deadends just south of Decatur at West Howard Avenue. Turn right, and Mental Stimulation is 1/2 mile on the right between Thinking Man's Tavern and Corps Body.
Our thanks to store owner James Silver for providing this opportunity. James is not only a dart-throwing buddy of John's, he's also author of Naked Presidents: An Alternate History. In the flyer announcing the signing, James wrote: "Yes, even though Mental Stimulation is an outpost of the Liberal Media, John is a friend of ours and we strongly beleive in freedom of expression and artistic acheivement. Come by and join the fun. ... It should be a lively afternoon!" (That's James' caricature below, not Al Franken!)
UPDATE July 24: From John: "Thanks those hearty few who braved the Atlanta traffic to come out and support our work. I got a big kick out meeting and drawing Scared Monkeys' Tom Royce (and his dad via photograph), John, Doug and the adorable Sydney (who brought her lovely parents). I hope you guys enjoy the collection as much as we enjoyed creating it."
This cartoon was inspired by a line from Mark Steyn in A victory for multiculti over common sense:
It has been sobering this past week watching some of my "woollier" colleagues (in Vicki Woods's self-designation) gradually awake to the realisation that the real suicide bomb is "multiculturalism". Its remorseless tick-tock, suddenly louder than the ethnic drumming at an anti-globalisation demo, drove poor old Boris Johnson into rampaging around this page last Thursday like some demented late-night karaoke one-man Fiddler on the Roof, stamping his feet and bellowing, "Tradition! Tradition!" Boris's plea for more Britishness was heartfelt and valiant, but I'm not sure I'd bet on it. The London bombers were, to the naked eye, assimilated - they ate fish 'n' chips, played cricket, sported appalling leisurewear. They'd adopted so many trees we couldn't see they lacked the big overarching forest - the essence of identity, of allegiance. As I've said before, you can't assimilate with a nullity - which is what multiculturalism is. ....
One of the striking features of the post-9/11 world is the minimal degree of separation between the so-called "extremists" and the establishment: Princess Haifa, wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington, gives $130,000 to accomplices of the 9/11 terrorists; the head of the group that certifies Muslim chaplains for the US military turns out to be a bagman for terrorists; one of the London bombers gets given a tour of the House of Commons by a Labour MP. The Guardian hires as a "trainee journalist" a member of Hizb ut Tahir, "Britain's most radical Islamic group" (as his own newspaper described them) and in his first column post-7/7 he mocks the idea that anyone could be "shocked" at a group of Yorkshiremen blowing up London: "Second- and third-generation Muslims are without the don't-rock-the-boat attitude that restricted our forefathers. We're much sassier with our opinions, not caring if the boat rocks" - or the bus blows, or the Tube vaporises. Fellow Guardian employee David Foulkes, who was killed in the Edgware Road blast, would no doubt be heartened to know he'd died for the cause of Muslim "sassiness".
In referencing the above editorial, TIA Daily's Robert Tracinski further noted what is needed to combat multiculturalism:
[Steyn's] most profound point is that "you can't assimilate with a nullity." "Britishness" has to be about more than superficial details of lifestyle. Britain has to decide what *ideas* it stands for -- and as with the rest of Europe, this is a task for which British culture is unprepared. This is the great advantage that America has: we don't have to search for a non-racial identity, because we are a nation explicitly founded on an idea.
America can provide a model from which Europe needs to learn. Or, in the case of Britain, they can look back to the models from which America learned, from the Magna Carta to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Enlightenment ideas that inspired it.
I disagree with Diana West's implication that it's not useful to distinguish the fundamentalist, theocratic, and terrorist Muslims (Islamists) from muslims who aren't. But she makes a number of good points about the danger of multiculturalism in Burnt offerings on the altar of multiculturalism (via Little Green Footballs):
Without it -- without its fanatics who believe all civilizations are the same -- the engine that projects Islam into the unprotected heart of Western civilization would stall and fail. It's as simple as that. To live among the believers -- the multiculturalists -- is to watch the assault, the jihad, take place un-repulsed by our suicidal societies. These societies are not doomed to submit; rather, they are eager to do so in the name of a masochistic brand of tolerance that, short of drastic measures, is surely terminal.
I'm not talking about our soldiers, policemen, rescue workers and, now, even train conductors, who bravely and steadfastly risk their lives for civilization abroad and at home. Instead, I'm thinking about who we are as a society at this somewhat advanced stage of war. It is a strange, tentative civilization we have become, with leaders who strut their promises of "no surrender" even as they flinch at identifying the foe. Four years past 9/11, we continue to shadow-box "terror," even as we go on about "an ideology of hate." ...
This is the lesson of the atrocities in London. It's unlikely that the 21st century will remember that this new Western crossroads for global jihad was once the home of Churchill, Piccadilly and Sherlock Holmes. Then again, who will notice? The BBC has retroactively purged its online bombing coverage of the word "terrorist"; the spokesman for the London police commissioner has declared that "Islam and terrorism simply don't go together"; and within sight of a forensics team sifting through rubble, an Anglican priest urged his flock, as The Guardian reported, to "rejoice in the capital's rich diversity of cultures, traditions, ethnic groups and faiths." Just don't, he said, "name them as Muslims."
Their faith renewed, Londoners soldier on.
UPDATE I -- July 21: From FoxNews: London Official Confirms Subway Blasts.
UPDATE II: From CNN: UK police: Latest bombers failed.
Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".
The New York Sun reported today: Ganji Is Near Death in Iranian Prison, a Dissident Reports (via Instapundit):
Akbar Ganji's 36-day hunger strike has nearly cost the Iranian dissident his life, according to a writer recently released from the Tehran prison that holds Mr. Ganji, whom President Bush and European Union leaders have demanded the mullahs set free.
In a telephone interview from Tehran, a former political prisoner who was released temporarily from Evin prison at the end of June, Amir Abbas Fakhravar, told The New York Sun that Mr. Ganji's kidneys had failed and that he was seen yesterday by two fellow inmates in Evin's hospital wing laying unconscious on a floor as two guards tried to prop him up.
As Tehran University students clashed with police in Iran yesterday [July 12] during demonstrations demanding the release of political prisoners, President Bush, from Washington, joined the growing movement calling for the release of dissident journalist Akbar Ganji.
"The President calls on all supporters of human rights and freedom, and the United Nations, to take up Ganji's case and the overall human rights situation in Iran," a statement released by the White House yesterday read. Calls for comment to U.N. spokesmen were unreturned at press time last night. "The President also calls on the Government of Iran to release Mr. Ganji immediately and unconditionally and to allow him access to medical assistance."
A journalist by trade, Mr. Ganji was arrested in 1997 for giving a lecture on "the theoretical foundations of Fascism," for which he spent three months in prison. Three years later, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attending a Berlin conference deemed "anti-revolutionary" and "anti-Islamic" by the Iranian authorities. An appellate court reduced Mr. Ganji's sentence to six months, but Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi intervened to impose a six-year sentence on other charges, such as his possession of photocopied foreign newspapers.
As a prisoner, Mr. Ganji has been every bit as nettlesome to the mullahs as he was as a free man. His "Republican Manifesto," first published in 2002 and released in expanded form last May, called on his fellow citizens to boycott the country's sham elections as a way of achieving genuine democracy. During his current hunger strike, Mr. Ganji has written two letters addressed "to all free people," which can be found in English translation at Free Ganji.
From the above Web site, quoting Akbar Ganji:
I will not stand the master-slave relationship, in which the Leader ascends to the ranks of a god and people descend to the level of slaves. ... I was forced to endure 2000 days in prison for expressing my dissenting opinions and beliefs. But two thousand days of jail in the sultanist system is not sufficient for otherness, for being unconventional, and for dissent. The punishment for "difference" is much heavier. Tolerating difference is the essential and inseparable component of democratic politics. Intolerance and oppression are the main components of authoritarian regimes. ...
This candle is about to die out, but this voice will raise louder voices in its wake.
UPDATE I -- July 21: The New York Sun reports: Iran Is Considering Pardon for Ganji.
Dissident Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji may be pardoned for the remaining six months of his jail sentence, Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, said.
A pardon for Mr. Ganji would prove the efficacy of an international campaign in recent weeks demanding his unconditional release from prison. President Bush, E.U. leaders, and an Israeli politician and a former Russian political prisoner, Natan Sharansky, have called for the hunger-striker's unconditional release, as have human rights organizations and Western intellectuals, who signed a petition circulated by www.opendemocracy.net and the International Society for Iranian Studies-Committee for Academic and Intellectual Freedom.
UPDATE II -- July 24: BBC reports: Iran admits to abuse of prisoners.
The Iranian judiciary has said that human rights abuses have been taking place in the country's jails. A report drafted over several months says prison guards have ignored a legal order banning the use of torture by blindfolding and beating detainees. It also criticises police for arresting people without sufficient evidence.
Meanwhile lawyer and Nobel prize-winner Shirin Ebadi has complained that she has not been allowed to visit her client, jailed journalist Akbar Ganji. She has warned that his health is failing.
From CNN today: Israel blocks buses carrying Gaza pullout opponents:
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Netivot Monday singing, praying and chanting in protest against the Israeli government's plan to pull out of Gaza and a small part of the West Bank.
A pro-settler group, The Yesha Council, had predicted between 50,000 and 100,000 people would participate in the demonstration, but Israeli police blocked buses in dozens of Israeli cities as they attempted to ferry riders planning to join the protest. ...
Israel plans to complete the removal of Jewish settlers and the Israeli troops who guard them from those areas by mid-August.
Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his country would close 21 settlements and move about 8,000 Israelis from Gaza, which is also home to about 1.3 million Palestinians.
Sharon said there would be no hiding place for Jihad as long as their members continued their acts of violence.
"I ordered the defence establishment to increase our activity and to do as much harm as possible to the leadership of the Islamic Jihad terror organisation," he said. "We will not leave them alone until they stop these murderous acts."
Israel has sharply rebuked Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas for doing nothing to dismantle armed groups, even through the Palestinian leader denounced the suicide bombing as "a terrorist attack" and vowed to punish the perpetrators.
UPDATE July 21: From CNN: Israeli troops arrest 300 protesters entering Gaza.
Drudge reported last week that MoveOn.org sent out a memo to party attendees asking them not to wear their "Bush is a Liar" shirts because the media would be present: REVEALED: INSIDE A MOVEON SUPREME COURT HOUSE PARTY; TAKE 'BUSH LIAR' T-SHIRTS OFF. (Via Little Green Footballs)
From the Monterey Herald: Fans will be slower to forgive than in other instances by John Devine:
Now comes the hard part.
How does the National Hockey League get its fan base back?
How does a sport that had fallen behind horse racing and poker in television ratings before this labor impasse, get anyone outside of Canada and the snow belt to care?
An agreement in principle on a new six-year labor deal was reached Wednesday after a 10-month lockout had brought about the cancellation of the entire season.
Yet, when hockey disappeared no one blinked an eye. The ice melted and no one noticed. Instead of mourning the loss, fans just moaned.
Was it really gone for more than a year?
From FoxNews: Dems Urge Denial of Security Clearances:
Senate Democrats on Thursday pushed for legislation to deny security clearances to officials who disclose the identify of an undercover agent, an action that clearly responds to the controversy surrounding top White House aide Karl Rove (search).
Sens. Harry Reid or Nevada, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Joe Biden of Delaware and Dick Durbin of Illinois were offering the amendment as an add-on to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill now being debated in the Senate.
"No federal employee who discloses, or has disclosed, classified information, including the identity of a covert agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, to a person not authorized to receive such information shall be permitted to hold a security clearance for access to such information," the amendment language reads.
In the [Matthew] Cooper e-mails just surrendered by Time to the prosecutor looking into the Plame case, "Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a 'big warning' not to 'get too far out on Wilson.' Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by . . . CIA Director George Tenet . . . or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, 'it was, [Rove] said, Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.' "
There's no mistaking the purpose of this conversation between Cooper and Rove. It wasn't intended to discredit, defame or injure Wilson's wife. It was intended to throw cold water on the import, seriousness and supposedly high level of Wilson's findings.
While some may differ on the fairness of discrediting Joseph Wilson, it sure isn't any kind of crime. ...
This Rove-Cooper conversation discredits Wilson, not Plame. In fact, nothing we know so far was done either with the purpose of exposing or even the knowledge that these remarks would be exposing an undercover CIA operative.
And from an editorial in today's Investor's Business Daily: The Plame Game (not a permalink).
The 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which Rove is accused of violating, was written following a scandal involving Philip Agee, a rogue former CIA agent who published the names of 700 of his CIA colleagues before fleeing to the worker's paradise of Cuba.
The law was designed to protect the CIA from subversion and treason by those who wished harm upon the agency and the U.S. It was not designed to protect the identities of agents and their spouses who freely inject themselves into one side of a national political debate. If Karl Rove is a criminal, exactly what was the crime?
The act protected only those who were "serving outside the United States or (have) within the last five years." It's not clear how Mrs. Wilson would qualify as an undercover covert operative when she was a weapons of mass destruction analyst sitting at a desk in Langley, Va., and not a spy.
Pure politics is behind the outrage of liberals such as Kerry and Clinton who suddenly feel protective of the CIA after spending decades blaming the organization and its covert operatives for all manner of mischief. Where was the outrage back in the '90s, when Democrats gave one of their own, then-Rep. Bob Torricelli, a pass when he blew the cover of a real CIA operative in Guatemala?
UPDATE I -- July 19: This cartoon appears in today's Detroit News.
A New York Times editorial yesterday villainized the Take Back The Memorial campaign against the International Freedom Center as the work of a "sharply political" "handful of angry family members" out to impose "censorship" at the WTC memorial site. If you are one of the over
32,000 33,000 people who have signed the "Take Back The Memorial" petition (including over 1,600 1,700 9/11 family members), you might take exception to that charge.
The Times' criticisms are based on the false assumption that the WTC site was somehow destined to be a publicly-built venue for the arts and political discourse. Operating from that premise, the attempts by Take Back The Memorial to ensure that the WTC memorial site deals exclusively with 9/11 are characterized as "abrogating the rights of everyone else."
One particular passage reveals the Times blindness to the real issue. They write that if Governor Pataki attempts to "appease one small, vocal group of protesters," "he runs the risk of turning ground zero into a place where we bury the freedoms that define this nation."
"Bury"? The Times has the gall to use the word "bury"? There are actual Americans buried at Ground Zero, murdered because they lived in a free county, and the Times' main concern is not the victims but that Ground Zero have an art gallery able to exhibit "controversial images of 9/11 and America's role in the world," all in the name of "free speech."
The real issues are how to properly use the hallowed ground of the WTC site to memorialize 9/11 victims and to historically document the attacks, and whether or not the IFC "freedom museum" and "arts center" are distractions from (and potentially even desecrations of) that memorial. As currently planned, the WTC memorial is already buried beneath the International Freedom Center building. With left-leaning individuals deeply involved in the IFC, it's not difficult to imagine how much worse it can get.
But because of the vigilant efforts of Take Back The Memorial, the IFC is on the defensive. They are making small concessions, apparently hoping that it will be enough to save their project. For instance, a recent IFC letter (see here and here) proposed mixing pictures of WTC heroes with the historical pictures in their "freedom museum," moving the IFC building a few feet away from the memorial, and adding a special 9/11 family room. But these are all obvious, crass attempts to placate those who simply do not want the WTC memorial site to become a venue for public political discourse, artistic or otherwise. Particularly worrisome is that a publicly-built, Ground Zero venue might feature anti-American sentiments. That would be a desecration of hallowed ground that cannot be allowed.
But the answer is not to regulate the speech and art that might appear at the International Freedom Center to fit someone's definition of "appropriate." The answer is to not build the IFC to begin with.
The Times summed up by saying:
What we build at ground zero has to honor the memory of one terrible day in the history of America, but it also has to belong to the future as well, a future as optimistic and forward-looking as we can imagine. It cannot be a place devoted entirely to death. If ground zero is not a place of life and creativity, of true artistic and political freedom, then it will not be successful even as a place of grief.
First of all, there is nothing inherently "optimistic and forward-looking" about art or politics, so that line is pure pablum. The "place devoted entirely to death" line a straw-man criticism. No one refers to, say, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as a "place devoted entirely to death," and no one has proposed such a thing for the WTC site.
What is being proposed is that instead of the IFC a larger, more comprehensive 9/11 memorial museum than what is currently planned be built. There are plenty of other places for "artistic and political" expression and a "history of freedom" museum. The memorial area of Ground Zero should be exclusively dedicated to highlighting the lives of those taken from us on 9/11 and in 1993. It should document what happened and why. That alone will inspire visitors to appreciate their freedoms.
If you haven't already, consider signing the "Take Back The Memorial" petition. And for the latest information on the issue, see the Web sites for Take Back The Memorial and 911FamiliesForAmerica.org.
UPDATE I -- July 14: Jeff Jarvis fisks the Times editoiral: Do not build it. Not there.
What's shocking is that anyone ever thought it would be a good idea to have such debates over the graves of the heroes and innocents of 9/11. It was a bad idea to include such an institution there. When I first heard "cultural center" at the World Trade Center, I was thinking perhaps a nice theater or perhaps a downtown extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, not a forum for debating issues (and bashing us). But, of course, once you open the doors to art and expression, you can't shut it off to some and not others; that is not the American way. And so what's mistaken is to open those doors there, at this sacred place. Do it elsewhere. Not at the World Trade Center.
UPDATE II -- July 15: Big news from Take Back The Memorial: IFC & Drawing Center to be "Reconsidered".
We welcome the decision by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to pursue other locations for the International Freedom Center (IFC) and other non-9/11 related cultural amenities. But make no mistake, that pursuit must continue until it ends with the removal of the IFC and The Drawing Center from Ground Zero. We do not view this decision as ‘one last look around’ - we view this as the last chance for the IFC and The Drawing Center to find a home other than the atop the graves of 2,749 people. They cannot remain there and we will not rest until they are removed.
New York Post coverage:
Article on yesterday's LMDC meeting: 'Site'-seeing Tour
Editorial on the latest development: Freedom Center Fakeout
Commentary on the Aspen Institute's involvement: Cover's blown on freedom center shills
Op-ed from three NY congressmen: Fossella, King & Sweeney: Quit The IFC Games
UPDATE III -- July 18: 911FamiliesForAmerica.org has updated commentary regarding last week's developments (Fear takes hold of the LMDC: Part II) and posted news from New York Business: Drawing Center may quit WTC (more commentary here).
Amid a storm of controversy over plans for the Ground Zero cultural centers, the Drawing Center says it has put the entire planning process for its move downtown on hold and is considering whether it should pull out of the site.
Museum officials have not spoken publicly about their role in the controversy. But in an interview with Crain's last week, Executive Director Catherine de Zegher voiced her frustration with demands that the museum agree to limit the type of art it would show in its new home. The institution wants the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to guarantee that it will have complete freedom in curating its exhibitions. ...
The Drawing Center, one of the four cultural institutions chosen to move to Ground Zero a year ago, came under attack last month for exhibiting work that satirizes President George W. Bush's comments about the Axis of Evil. Around the same time, the International Freedom Center, a new museum chosen to share a building with the Drawing Center, came under fire because some potential programs were deemed unpatriotic by families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.
From AP on July 8: Shaken G-8 Leaders Agree on Aid, Climate.
[British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the G-8 summit host,] said the Palestinian aid package would total $3 billion "in the years to come." The British leader said the assistance was designed "so that two states, Israel and Palestine, two peoples and two religions can live side by side in peace."
The Palestinian Authority, which has refused to disarm Palestinian terrorist groups, and the Palestinian people, some of whom have been supporting the terrorist group Hamas in local elections, have now been rewarded. And after months of relative calm in Israel, FoxNews reports today: Bomber Kills 3 in Israeli Mall Blast.
A teenage Palestinian bomber killed three Israelis and wounded at least 30 others in front of a crowded shopping mall in this seaside city, the first such attack in nearly five months and a blow to a truce that has revived peace hopes. ...
Among the wounded was a 6-year-old girl who was badly burned, Israel TV reported. Two women were killed instantly, and a third died several hours later of her wounds, according to Israel Radio.
Israel blamed the militant Islamic Jihad, which has continued its attacks against Israelis despite a truce declared in February, and police linked the explosion to a failed car bomb attack a few minutes earlier in the West Bank.
Charles Johnson has recently posted articles that give a some insight into the culture over which the G-8- and U.S.-funded Palestinian Authority is presiding: Gaza mosque welcomes London attacks and Senior Hamas official: We have lost faith in Abbas. From the latter article:
A senior Hamas official yesterday threatened both open confrontation with the Palestinian Authority and continued attacks on Israel from Gaza after the disengagement, saying that Hamas had "lost faith" in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).
In an interview with a local Gaza news agency, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas was not willing "to serve as a fig leaf" for PA control of Gaza following the disengagement, would not give up its weapons and was liable to continue bombarding Israel with mortars and rockets from Gaza after the disengagement "in order to liberate the West Bank and Jerusalem."
That's how Hamas behaves without the official mask of government. How do they behave as elected officials?: Hamas council bans music festival.
A Hamas-led town council in the West Bank has banned outdoor music and dance performances planned as part of a summertime Palestinian festival.
A Qalqilya council spokesman said it was partly to avoid damaging the grass. But he also said the council had been elected to protect the conservative values of the city, which included not approving of men and women mixing.
In May the militant Hamas won the West Bank town's elections, ousting the mainstream Fatah party.
Keep in mind that even the Fatah party, lead by P.A. President Abu Mazan, has its own armed wing.
Yet here's what President Bush said about supporting Palestinian terrorists in a February 2003 speech justifying the war in Iraq.
Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated.
Without this outside support for terrorism, Palestinians who are working for reform and long for democracy will be in a better position to choose new leaders. True leaders who strive for peace; true leaders who faithfully serve the people. A Palestinian state must be a reformed and peaceful state that abandons forever the use of terror.
President Bush was right about deposing Saddam; it stopped one form of financial support for Palestinian terrorist groups. Yet despite the fact that both Saddam and Arafat are gone, the new Palestinian leaders are still harboring terrorists, and a terrorist group is gaining political power. If "support for terror will not be tolerated," how can Bush reconcile that with the G-8's "wealthy patron" support for the PA? He can't, which is shameful.
Suddenly, [because of the London attacks] the world is seized with the danger of ignoring the Islamofascists in our midst. Lengthy Page One articles in Sunday's New York Times and The Washington Post describe how British authorities allowed this virulent ideology-masquerading-as-a-religion to get established and metastasize into a veritable "Londonistan" in the years preceding last week's murderous attacks on the host community. ....
The one place we apparently are indifferent to the rising power of the Islamists is in the would-be state of "Palestine." There, establishment of an Islamofascist Gazastan is not just being tolerated by the West. It is enabled by the Israeli government, the G-8 major industrial nations and the Bush administration. ... They envision a democratic Palestinian state co-existing peaceably side-by-side with Israel.
Unfortunately, this prospect is no likelier at the moment than was that of an Islamofascist Londonistan living side-by-side in peace with its non-Islamist neighbors. If anything, it is less likely since the West's behavior can only be seen as a reward for Palestinian terror. ...
Creation of a new Palestinian safe haven for terrorist recruitment, training and planning also will endanger Americans and their interests in Iraq, Europe, Asia and here at home. The fact such terrorists will benefit from the counterterrorist training, funding and arms we are giving the Palestinian Authority will only exacerbate this threat.
UPDATE I -- July 13: Jewish Current Issues noted on July 8 that President Bush has again waived the sanctions against the PLO/PA: Annals of Appeasement 2005. Powerline commented: "Is this any way to run a war?" (Hat tip Barry Nimat)
UPDATE II -- July 14: This cartoon appears in today's Investor's Business Daily.
From the July 3rd Washington Post: Parties Line Up Strategies for Hearings on Nomination (registration required).
The two parties have begun outlining their strategies for confirmation hearings once President Bush nominates a successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, with Senate Republicans planning a rapid and rigid schedule designed to prevent Democrats from pinning the nominee down on divisive issues such as abortion. ...
Democrats signaled that whoever the nominee is, their three likely lines of attack will be to assert the White House did not consult them sufficiently, then paint the nominee as ideologically extreme and finally assert that the Senate had not received sufficient documents about the candidate. ...
Lawmakers and aides said leaders are conscious of the poor image of Congress in recent polls and are determined to avoid having the two to three days of nationally televised hearings come off like a trial. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) appealed for hearings marked by "dignity and respect."
That does not appear likely. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on courts, said an effort to choke off inquiries about specific issues would fail because Democrats believe they have "an obligation to our country and the Constitution to thoroughly vet the nominee." [Emphasis added]
Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to leave the G8 summit to take charge of the response to the London bombings, now assumed to have been the work of al-Qaida, underscored the prime responsibility of heads of government for the national security. The other powerful concerns of the G8 summit -- poverty in Africa and global warming, the rise of China and the unstable system of international finances -- faded into lesser proportion as London's casualty toll rose to a reported 20 dead and at least 160 wounded after a concerted attack on the transit system of the British capital.
A headline prior to the London attacks: Climate tops G8 agenda.
From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Distain appears bipartisan for Hillary Clinton tell-all.
In the current polarized political atmosphere, it's usually difficult to find anything to bring liberals and conservatives together. But author Edward Klein may have found it with "The Truth About Hillary" (Sentinel, $24.95), his new tell-all bio attacking former first lady Hillary Clinton.
Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly was so offended by Klein's book that he canceled the author's appearance. Jon Podhoretz of The New York Post described it as "one of the most sordid volumes I've ever waded through."
From NewsMax: Hillary Clinton Blasts President Bush on Border Security.
From the Chicago Tribune: Hillary Clinton Joins NYC Olympic Bid Campaign.
And here's a Hillary Clinton cartoon from one year ago: Unmasked.
John and I are are taking a few days off to celebrate the Fourth of July. We'll resume posting new editorial cartoons in the latter part of this week. In the meantime, we'll post the latest Caricature, and we might even repost an old cartoon if something in the news seems to fit.
We wish everyone a wonderful Independence Day.