June 27, 2005

Governor Pataki Weighs In On Ground Zero

File this one under FINALLY:

Gov. Pataki drew a line in the sand yesterday, declaring he will tolerate no America-bashing on the sacred soil of Ground Zero. Hours after the Daily News disclosed that a museum set to rise on the site had displayed kooky and anti-American art, the governor said there can be no place where nearly 3,000 innocents died for an institution that attacks the United States and the heroes of 9/11. His voice rising and his resolve steely as he compared the World Trade Center tract to the bloody beaches of Normandy and the black waters of Pearl Harbor, Pataki vowed: “We will not tolerate anything on that site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom or denigrates the sacrifice and courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11.” He added, “The Daily News did a good service by pointing out some of these things. We do not want that at Ground Zero; I do not want that at Ground Zero and to the extent that I have the power, it’s not going to happen.” At issue are two controversial cultural groups that were picked to occupy a major building at the heart of the site - and have enraged 9/11 family members who say their murdered loved ones are being disrespected. The larger museum, the International Freedom Center, has sparked fears it will focus on acts of U.S. wrongdoing, like slavery and treatment of American Indians, while the Drawing Center, now based in SoHo, was exposed in The News as displaying graphic and vulgar art attacking America’s war on terror. “Sure, there can be debate,” Pataki said when asked if his tough stance jeopardized free-speech rights. “But I don’t want that debate to be occurring at Ground Zero.”
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Acting after a protest from family members - and word the Drawing Center had displayed art linking President Bush to Osama Bin Laden and portraying terror suspects as victims of American torture - the governor laid down the law to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.: "Contact the cultural institutions on the memorial site. . . and get from them an absolute guarantee that as they proceed, it will be with total respect for the sanctity of that site." This was followed by a simple, stark threat: "I'm hopeful they are able to do that, and if not, then they shouldn't be there." Pataki twice repeated his threat, saying the Freedom and Drawing Centers must respect sacred ground - or else.
I am not advocating censorship. I believe that each and every American has the right to express his or her views on any given subject - no matter how vile, anti-American, or moronic. However, there is no reason that such art should appear at Ground Zero. If you want to compare Bush to Osama Bin Laden or Hitler, then feel free to do so - at your own home, business or museum.
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