The New York Times in its lead editorial on July 12 blasted the “Take Back the Memorial” initiative.
The editorial said the initiative “may not represent a majority of 9/11 families” — although virtually all organized family groups have opposed the Freedom Center.
The Times also took Gov. Pataki to task for calling for “cultural partners at ground zero for reassurances that their programs will harmonize with the concerns of this small group of family members.”
There must be no mistake about this. If the Drawing Center is forced to withdraw from ground zero rather than accept the censorship of exhibitions that are yet to be imagined, no other respectable arts institution will take its place.
What was offered as an open invitation to restore the artistic life of Lower Manhattan will have turned into an invitation to provide only the kind of cultural offerings that please a vocal group of people whose genuine grief has already taken on a sharply political edge. Those are unacceptable conditions that would undermine the very purpose of the arts. If the International Freedom Center must continually bend over backward to placate a handful of angry family members, then all of its commitment to the conscience of that site, to what it can teach us about the character of freedom in the world, will have been compromised.
The fact there is this strong of a debate over the Freedom Center should be a red flag for a memorial that should not have red flags.
Our standard line is that Freedom Center is diverting attention from Ground Zero’s mission. The Freedom Center and Drawing Center can be anyplace else in the city just not at Ground Zero.
We have opposed the Center for two years principally because it will monopolize more than one quarter of the memorial site — in an area better served by park land.
As everything comes undone at Ground Zero, we still don’t understand why the powers that be don’t just simply step back and cover up the whole thing with a temporary park while these battles are hashed out in an orderly fashion. It still seems the powers that be are fighting over the multibillion settlement and don’t have the decency to cover the corpse.