Roger L. Simon

Soros versus Sharansky

Whose ideology will prevail at the World Trade Center Memorial? (It’s interesting to see this battle personified in two men who once were so instrumental in the liberation of Eastern Europe. One seems to have lost his way in self-regard.)

Anyway, Nathan Sharansky appears optimistic in his opinion piece in today’s NY Sun – “Lasting Tribute.”

While the war on terror features new protagonists, it is a war that has been fought before. It is a war between liberty and tyranny, between freedom and fear, between good and evil.

Because I see the war on terror in these terms, a cultural center at ground zero dedicated to the advance of freedom seems particularly appropriate. By demonstrating liberty’s march and triumph both in America and around the world, such a cultural center could show how the weapon of freedom, honed over time by courageous individuals and nations, can be used to transform our world.

While the benefits of a cultural center dedicated to freedom are obvious to me, the concerns of many that such a center could turn into a “blame America” exhibit are understandable. I have seen how the once sacred concept of human rights has been twisted beyond recognition and used to bludgeon the free world, even by those who are genuine advocates for human rights.

That said, the source of this moral confusion is the failure to recognize the fundamental moral difference between free societies, where human rights can be abused but where there are means to correct those abuses, and “fear societies,” which by their very nature never respect human rights. By reconnecting the concept of human rights to the idea of a free society, a freedom center might go a long way toward injecting some moral clarity back into the public discourse.

Will those charged with building the International Freedom Center successfully accomplish this goal? After meeting several times and discussing these issues with Tom Bernstein and the rest of his team, I am confident that they will.

Ultimately, America will win the war on terror with the courage of its people and with the power of its ideals.I am confident that the center planned for ground zero will pay a lasting tribute to both, doing justice not only to the victims of 9/11, but also inspiring all those who cherish liberty to recognize the power of freedom to change our world.