Roger’s Rules

Exhibitions we plan to skip

The Reuters’ headline says it all:

“New York’s Sept 11 museum to display hijacker perspective”

Another effort by officialdom to commend to our attention the virtues of “tolerance and diversity”?

An earlier effort in this direction — an International Freedom Center to be sited at the rebuilt World Trade Center — was canceled by former Governor George Pataki after a vocal public outcry demonstrated that cultural relativism still has its limits.

The current effort at what po-mo professors call “contextualization” will include photographs and quotations drawn from “martyrdom” videos made by the 19 terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and slaughtered 40 people on United flight 93. Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, said that “No one will come to this museum and leave with a feeling of heroism” for the terrorists. Still, he wanted to “Let the perpetrators speak for themselves.”

As in: “Let’s hear your side of the story, Mr. Himmler,” “What were you trying to accomplish, Pol Pot?” “I’m sure you had what you thought were good reasons — not of course that we necessarily agree — for detonating those bombs on the Madrid train in 2004: please, give us your perspective.”

It seemed appropriate that it was Reuters which reported this story. Just after 9/11, Steven Jukes, Reuter’s global head of news, told his staff that because “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” “Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist.”

On this anniversary of the worst terrorist atrocity in U.S. history, I hope we will 1) take a few moments to remember the 3000 innocent people who were slaughtered that day, 2) remind ourselves of the intractable evil that perpetrated that slaughter, and 3) admonish ourselves with the home truth that calling things by their real name is a prerequisite of true understanding.

As an antidote to the specious neutrality of the Reuters approach to evil, I recommend readers look at my colleague Andrew Klavan’s superb memorial to the victims of 9/11: it is brief but unforgettable. It will bring tears to your eyes and, I hope, put a bit of steel in your spine.