Tuesday Debra Burlingame noted in the Wall Street Journal, "Ground Zero has been stolen, right from under our noses. How do we get it back?"
Today the president of the International Freedom Center, Richard Tofel, responds.
A year ago tomorrow, a new institution called the International Freedom Center was formally designated by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. as one of the four cultural institutions for the World Trade Center site, all to be operated under the aegis of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.Unfortunately for us the thoughtful response amounts to little more than, "trust us." There's lots of quotations, but very little on specifics. Surely the vagueness with which he describes the IFC content is by design, as reactions to the revelations provided by Burlingame were nearly instantaneous and vociferous.
But some ask why such an institution -- including museum exhibition spaces, an educational and cultural center already boasting commitments from nine of New York City's, the nation's and the world's leading universities, and a robust service and civic engagement program all devoted to advancing the cause of freedom -- should be placed at Ground Zero. It is a serious question, and it deserves a thoughtful response.
Tofel is at least transparent enough to note that the site will be an equal opportunity offender.
To be sure, the International Freedom Center will host debates and note points of view with which you -- and I -- will disagree. But that is the point, the proof of our society's enduring self-confidence and humanity. Moreover, the International Freedom Center will rise above the politics of the moment. It will not exist to precisely define "freedom" or to tell people what to think, but to get them to think -- and to act in the service of freedom as they see it. And it will always do so in a manner respectful of the victims of September 11.As many have noted the ultimate respectful gesture to the victims of 9/11 is keep the focus on that day, that place, and those people.
...Ground Zero is precisely the right place to make this stand and leave a legacy for our children and generations to come.