Hypersensitivity and the 9/11 Memorial

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Ace of Spades has an excellent rant on his website today, in which he implores the press and its customers to “stop with all the 9/11 museum hypersensitivity.” It’s a tricky topic, certainly, but one I think he addresses pretty well. 

I’ve been bothered by this for a long time. I understand that the 9/11 site is the place where 3000 people were murdered.

However, I’ve been very annoyed at the demands that the 9/11 site not be used for anything dirty like Commerce or Ordinary Human Activities.

The 9/11 site is not a graveyard. A graveyard is a consecrated site, pregnant with metaphysical weight.

The 9/11 site is a murder scene — a mass-murder scene, to be sure, but we do not insist that murder scenes be used for no other purpose but to commemorate the dead.

If we did, we would have virtually no land remaining for ordinary human purposes.

The various 9/11 pressure groups have fought various plans to use the land of the site for ordinary productive human purposes.

I understand their push to use the land for little other purpose but to commemorate those who were lost and to preserve the Rights of the Dead, but I think it’s occasionally important to speak up for the Prerogatives of the Living, too.

Part of this is that I just don’t see Commerce as many people do, as something dirty and sinful and somehow disrespectful of the dead. I see commerce as, itself, a rather holy thing.

Perhaps “holy” overstates it. But I do believe that commerce is a good thing– the voluntary transaction of one good for another, in an exchange that both parties believe will increase their happiness, if only by a tiny quantum — and so I do not believe that such activity is disrespectful of the dead.

It is not disrespectful of the dead that the living should go on doing the thing that living beings do.

I am not bothered that the 9/11 museum has a gift shop. Every museum has a gift shop — the Gettysburg Museum has a gift shop.

So too does the Holocaust Museum.

It is not strange nor disrespectful that someone visiting a site should wish to bring back a souvenir from that site. Or to purchase a gift for a loved one there, so that the loved one could have some totem of the visit.

The whole thing is here.

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