Arizona 9/11 Memorial: Another 'Blame America' Monument

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 24, 2006 5:26 PM

Correction: The Arizona 9/11 Memorial Commission was appointed by Republican Governor Jane Hull, not Democratic Governor Jane Napolitano, as I stated below. Thanks to PRWilson in comments, who was snarky, but right. Details in post. Apologies.

Update: Allah has a photo series from the memorial with more of the inscriptions.

This story originally came up earlier this week when conservative, Arizona-based blogger Espresso Pundit took a trip to the Arizona 9/11 Memorial in Phoenix, dedicated this 9/11, and found this:

The memorial is an elevated flat ring with phrases cut through the metal. Throughout the day, the sun shines through the ring and phrases become visible on the side walk...

What kind of phrases? Politically correct phrases that bash America. That's what kind of phrases. The memorial looks like a MoveOn.org webpage.

Ace and Allah both picked it up earlier this week, and it migrated to Drudge and Fox today. You can click all those links for background and pictures.

It's the same old, same old. Plan a 9/11 Memorial to honor the victims who died that day at the hands of evil, murderous Islamofascists, but mostly forget to mention the victims or the evil that took their lives. Instead, create a "place for dialogue," question American foreign policy since 9/11, and remind visitors to the 9/11 Memorial that there were root causes for the attacks-- namely, us. Ta-daaa!

Some of the phrases in the Arizona Memorial ticking people off include:

"Erroneous U.S. Airstrike Kills 46 Ugruzgan Civilians"

"Congress Questions Why CIA and FBI Didn't Prevent Attacks"

"You Don't Win Battles of Terrorism With More Battles"

I found another doozy in searching for old news stories on the memorial's design:

“09 15 01. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh, murdered in Mesa.” 

Sodhi was a gas station owner from India, killed in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, apparently because he was mistaken for someone of Middle Eastern descent because of the turban and beard he wore. Now, this story of misguided retaliation is tragic, but it is also rare. It's so, so far from reflective of the average American's reaction to 9/11 that its placement on the memorial is absurd.

Its inclusion is not meant to honor any of the victims who died that day in the Towers or the Pentagon or on Flight 93. Its inclusion is a slap on the wrist for the dreaded widespread "backlash," which, for the most part, never materialized except for in the minds of Lefty memorial designers. The man who killed Sodhi was later convicted of first-degree murder and has been sentenced to death.

But this brings us to the designers of this particular memorial. It's always instructive to hear about how they came to design such monuments. Allah's got this comment from the project's architect:

“The attacks gave America a sense of what the rest of the world is feeling, sometimes on a daily basis,” architect Eddie Jones says.

“We’re certainly not as innocent as we used to be,” says Jones, co-designer of the Arizona 9/11 Memorial, which is being dedicated today at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza near the state Capitol.

I'll see that comment and raise him one from the memorial's designer, Matthew Salenger. This comes from an interview with a local PBS show with Jones and the project's two designers Maria and Matthew Salenger. The whole thing has a lot of wacky in it, but I pulled the best part:

Michael Grant:
Maria, just about out of time, but I understand there was an interfaith service early this morning before the official dedication? Pretty moving?

Maria Salenger:
It was a wonderful event. The Arizona interfaith movement had representatives from many different religions there. I think there were eight to 10 people that spoke and each of them gave a prayer, a blessing, and a song for the space.

Matthew Salenger:
I think the most important thing that they did was really -- they were calling for peace. And all the memorial, the most important thing I think about the memorial is that we need to remember, you know, the events of 9/11 because of where it's brought us today. And it's important to understand those pieces. It's led us into war and it's important to understand if there were misleadings into that based on 9/11. We need to remember those things. And they brought all that up and brought up peace. 

Bush lied, people died! Why not just use that inscription? He said this in an interview about the dedication of the memorial on Sept. 11 of this year. Nah, there's no politicizing going on here.

Oh, and in case anyone's interested, I ran the names of the Arizona 9/11 Memorial Commissioners through OpenSecrets.

Benito Almanza: $2,000 to Democrat Jim Pederson, $1,000 to Democrat Ed Pastor
Johnny Basha: $1,000 to Democrat Harry Mitchell
Shelley Cohn: $200 to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords
Ronnie Lopez: $1000 to Democrat Ed Pastor, $1000 to Democrat Raul Grijalva
Bob Ramsey: $2,100 to Democrat Harry Mitchell, $1,000 to Ed Pastor

Then we get to George Weisz, who's a bit of an odd bird. He's the only one I find who donates to Republicans, but he donates large amounts to weird candidates from both parties. No committed Republican or conservative, it would seem:

George Weisz: $5000 to Straight Talk America, $2,100 to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, $5,700 to Republican Jon Kyl,  $500 to Trent Franks, $500 to Mike Hellon, $500 to Democrat David Obey, $250 to Arizona Republican Party, $250 to Rick Renzi, $250 to Democrat Maria Cantwell.

See what I mean? The only man on earth who donated to Jon Kyl and Maria Cantwell...Anyway, Arizona is a state represented by two Republican senators. There's not one politically active, solid Republican on the commission, but there are at least five politically active Dems. I realize the commission was appointed by a Democratic governor  (the commission was actually appointed by Republican Governor Jane Hull). But I still contend there had to have been some well-liked, solid Republicans in the state who could have added a voice from the other side.

I could only find six of the 30 commission members in Open Secrets for the 2006 cycle. I should also note that two commission members--Donna Bird and Steve Speiser-- lost relatives in the 9/11 attacks.

Speiser, who lost a brother on Flight 77, is a teacher who helped create the educational materials for 9/11 and school trips to the 9/11 Memorial. Some of it is okay, but it gets increasingly moonbatty the higher you go up in grades. I'll provide the headlines for each grade's curriculum and highlights where necessary:

Kindergarten: "The American Flag as Patriotic Symbol"
First Grade: "Remember Patriot Day, September 11"
Second Grade: "American Heroes"
Third Grade: "What is a Memorial?"
Fourth Grade: "The Arizona 9/11 Memorial"

These are all okay. They don't really explain the threat or identify the enemy, but they also don't invite too much blaming America. I don't envy teachers the job of discussing this, particularly with young kids. It's hard to do and even harder to do well, but some of the stuff in the later grades is just ridiculous:

Fifth Grade: "The Arizona 9/11 Memorial Timeline"

I looked for more info on the timeline in this one, but no such luck. I imagine though, that they'll go into some detail about all the inscriptions on the memorial and exactly what they mean.

Sixth Grade: "What Is Terrorism?"

This is cute, from the Sixth Grade lesson:

Ask how terrorists today differ from other warriors in history. If the student could ask a terrorist today a question, what would they ask?

Empowerment:
Have students write a question they would like to ask a terrorist. Have them write an explanation of why they chose this question and guess what the answer might be.

Evaluation: Have students share their writing with a partner and then with the larger group. Students’ explanation can be used to determine their understanding of terrorism and the role it plays in today’s world.

You know, because it's all about "creating a dialogue"-- with terrorists. And, what does creating a dialogue do, kids?

Seventh Grade: "Tolerance, Unity and Diversity"

That's right, it brings us "tolerance, unity and diversity." This one's exactly what you think it is, and has dang near nothing to do with 9/11. The objective is for students to "recognize the unity and diversity of their class." Great, what about the 3,000 people who died? They were pretty diverse, too.

The titles on the rest of these pretty much say it all, though scrolling through the lesson plans is an adventure, if you're up for it. I'd recommend it, especially if you have kids, so you can figure out what to teach your kids about 9/11 that they're not teaching them at school. It's not that there's no good in the plans. It's just that they invite a whole lot of bad.

Eighth Grade: "A Vision for the Future," in which students "write a personal plan for improving the world."

High School: "American Freedom Post-9/11"

High School: "Understanding the World Perspective of 9/11," in which students learn about the roots of terrorism around the world.

High School: "Effects of 9/11 on Contemporary Life in the U.S."

High School: "Effects of 9/11 on the American Economy"

Here's some contact info, via Hot Air, if this has got you hot:

The other thing to do is to e-mail Russell Pearce, the Arizona state assemblyman quoted in the article. There’s a contact page at his website, but I errr don’t know how often he checks it. You might also reach him at rpearce@azleg.state.az.us

In the future, can we just stick to remembering the victims instead of decrying how we all brought this upon ourselves? Probably not, which is why conservatives should keep an eye out for commissions in their own states. If you can't get appointed, at least keep an eye on them.

Update: Townhall blogger TheRightWay suggests checking out the conservative candidate for governor in Arizona if you're ill about this.