August 27, 2005

Sacred Ground
entry, August 27th, 2005

I don't often blog "politics." I do this (or rather, I don't do this) because I know that's not why you came here. You came here to be entertained, perhaps in a way that stretches your brain a little bit.

There are places where the crass, heated nature of political discussion just do not fit. And it is in that spirit that I'm running some banner ads for the "Take Back The Memorial" campaign.

I'm not going to trouble you with a full run-down of the highly-charged political messages that are being embedded in the plans for the memorial at the World Trade Center site. I'm just going to say that they don't fit there. At all.

I will, however, take a moment to tell you WHY I feel this way. Remember, please, I'm not espousing a political platform here -- I'm explaining why I think some platforms should be free of politics.

Let us consider other memorials. These are sacred places, where we come to remember our fallen friends, family, and fellow human beings. Three examples top my list:

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum stands on sacred ground, where 168 men, women, and children lost their lives on April 19th, 1995. Nowhere in that complex will you find rationalizations of the attack, or discussions of the BATF debacle two years earlier, in which 80 Brand Davidians -- 25 of them children -- died in a fire. It's not that those discussions don't need to be had. It's that they shouldn't be held on sacred ground.

The City of Hiroshima is similarly sacred, but because of the scope of what happened there, there are numerous memorials and historical sites. And the overwhelming majority of these, the catalog of Japanese atrocities during World War II is absent. Regardless of how anyone feels about the history, politics, strategies, and tactics of the second World War, everyone seems to agree that blaming the Japanese victims for the American nuclear attack -- or for anything else, for that matter -- would be sacrilegious.

Numerous sites exist to memorialize victims of the Holocaust. Some, like the Auschwitz Museum, stand on historic sites. Others, like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, serve to spread remembrance far abroad from those places where the innocent died. All of these places are made sacred by what is displayed there. And no, you won't find an "Ariel Sharon Administration Exhibit" anywhere near them. There are plenty of other places where Israel's current politics can be discussed, and ALL of those other places would play better hosts to that kind of a discussion than would the memorials and museums devoted to helping us remember a generation all but lost to genocide.

Whether a memorial is built to honor 168 people, 140,000 people, or six million people, its purpose is the same: allow visitors to pay their respects, and to hold the victims in solemn remembrance. This solemnization is a sacred thing.

Ground Zero is sacred ground, and should be treated that way.