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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 9, 2005 09:31 AM

Dick Tofel, president of the International Freedom Center, has a smooth piece in the WSJ today attempting to counter Debra Burlingame’s devastating op-ed on the hijacking of Ground Zero. He fails. At least he abandoned the tactic he used with me of trying to minimize the amount of opposition in this country to the blame-America tenets of the IFC’s patrons. Instead, Tofel uses all the right code words and spins a calming, “nothing to see here, move along” tale. Example:

As envisioned in Daniel Libeskind’s master plan for the site’s redevelopment, the International Freedom Center’s building will serve as a buffer between the sacred Memorial and the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city, including the thousands of people who will move each day in and out of Santiago Calatrava’s spectacular new transit hub.

But the International Freedom Center itself will do much more than that. It will serve as a complement to the Memorial, bringing a universal “narrative of hope” to a place where hope is imperative.

Blah times 3. Tofel knows his audience, or thinks he does. Before he was head of the IFC, he was a top Dow Jones/WSJ executive from 1989-2004 (which, curiously, the piece doesn’t disclose). He grandly quotes Lincoln and Learned Hand. But he ignores Burlingame’s specific concerns over the left-leaning, War on Terror-opposing staff, consultants, and advisors in charge of shaping the IFC’s grand “narrative of hope.”

Tofel claims the IFC “will rise above the politics of the moment.” The politics of the moment is Bush-bashing, guilt-mongering. The IFC’s chief driving force, as Burlingame notes, is Tom Bernstein–head of one of the leading Bush-bashing, guilt-mongering human rights organizations in the nation. How can the IFC “rise above” the very politics of its own co-founder? Tofel doesn’t say.

And what about the disappearance of the Iraqi voter mural? What about the pressure from the ACLU to include its America=Gulag exhibits? What about the involvement of moonbats such as Eric Foner and George Soros?

And what about these questions from Jeff Jarvis:

Oh, and by the way, when you build this center, will you include the atrocities of the Saudis and Saddam Hussein and the PLO and all the tyrants of the Middle East? Will have you have an exhibit about the women there who do not have the freedom to vote or even drive?

Will you build a special wing for the special sickness that is suicide terrorism — in Israel and in Iraq and at the World Trade Center? Or will you be afraid of offending Muslims?

On all these questions, too, Tofel is totally mute. And that speaks volumes.

Tim Sumner of 911 Families for a Safe & Strong America, co-founded with Debra Burlingame, responds here. Read the whole thing.

Update: More thumbs-down for Tofel’s fluff…

– Professor Bainbridge: Not responsive

– Kevin Aylward at Wizbang: “amounts to little more than, ‘trust us.'”

– Charles Johnson, LGF: “After reading Tofel’s ‘nothing up my sleeve’ column, I’m more convinced than ever that this memorial will be a complete travesty, and a disgrace to the memories of 3,000 murdered people.”

– Robert at Lime Shurbet: “Mr. Tofel can gloss over it all he wants, he can’t change these facts about the people with input into the planning and design of the IFC.”

And my favorite so far, from one of my readers who works in the fundraising office of an Ivy League school. He e-mails:

I’ve written fundraising letters for fifteen years. When I got to the third graf of Tofel’s op-ed–

“The answer can be found in our society’s proudest traditions and its deepest aspirations.”

–I laughed ruefully in recognition of the sort of stuff I crank out and realized Tofel wasn’t even going to begin to address Burlingame’s concerns in a meaningful way.

Instead, he seized the moment her editorial offered and got the WSJ to publish … a fundraising letter. Man, I wish I were that good.

Update II: Mary Katherine Ham at Townhall.com’s C-log highlights another irksome part of Tofel’s piece:

Then there will be the Memorial Center, a museum devoted to the events of September 11 itself, with exhibit space roughly equal in size to that at the International Freedom Center. The Memorial Center will tell the stories of the day.

That is necessary, but not sufficient.

My question: why not? The American people and other visitors are more than capable of talking and thinking about that day and what it means on their own, without prompting from the IFC. Do we really need the IFC to “leave a legacy for our children and generations to come?”


More negative reax to Tofel’s piece up at WSJ.com. A few excellent samples:

You’ll Always Have Paris
Michael J. Murray – Huntsville, Ala.

After reading the WSJ article “The Great Ground Zero Heist”, by Debra Burlingame, June 7, 2005, I can’t help but feel this response by Mr. Tofel–president of the “so called” International Freedom Center–is a classic hose-job. Ms. Burlingame must have lit a pretty good fire to get such a quick “response” from Mr. Tofel. I have the impression she gave us more of the unvarnished truth on the matter than we’re hearing from Mr. Tofel. I support Ms. Burlingame 100%. Mr. “T,” and company, can take their International Freedom Center and put it in Paris somewhere.


Nice Try
E. Patrick Mosman – Pleasantville, N.Y.

Mr. Tofel’s attempt to counter Debra Burlingame’s very serious charges that the liberal, PC, revisionist historians have hijacked the 9/11 memorial is full of high sounding phrases, ringing sound bites but fails to insure that the international and home grown academic enemies of the United States will not have a ready made stage to give voice to their mantra, “the U.S. is and always has been the enemy of freedom.” We have the U.N. in New York for that and don’t need a mini-me in lower Manhattan echoing their diatribes.


Take back the memorial
No guilt complex at Ground Zero
The Soros-ization of Ground Zero

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