Opinion

Documentary for 9/11 Museum is Under Fire

Re-Wording Can’t Change A City’s History

by John L. Falcone

I have Muslim friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. I like them. However, if you were to believe the interfaith advisory group of clergy members who pre-screened the 9/11 museum before it opens this month, I would emerge from the museum thinking that they were personally responsible for the terror attacks that struck our city 13 years ago.

What a load of crap.

The controversy surrounding the museum pertains to one small exhibit which features a gallery of images of the 19 hijackers responsible for the attacks and is accompanied by a 7 minute video called “The Rise of Al Qaeda” that is narrated by NBC newsman Brian Williams.

The New York Times reported that after screening the video, the interfaith advisory group “grew alarmed at what they felt was an inflammatory tone and use of the words ‘jihad’ and ‘Islamist’ without, they felt, sufficient explanation.”

“As soon as it was over, everyone was just like, wow, you guys have got to be kidding me,” said Peter B. Gudaitis, the chief executive of New York Disaster Interfaith Services.
The museum is standing by the video, claiming that it was vetted by numerous scholars and deemed both sensitive and appropriately accurate.

“The critics who are going to say, ‘Let’s not talk about it as an Islamic or Islamist movement,’ could end up not telling the story at all, or diluting it so much that you wonder where Al Qaeda comes from,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University who endorsed the film.

And I have to agree with him.

Rational and educated Americans are well aware that one group of Muslims from an extremist group like Al-Qaeda does not represent all Muslims. Americans who are ignorant and uneducated enough to believe that all Muslims are terrorists because of 9/11 will not be swayed to think otherwise by editing some 7 minute video clip in one exhibit of a museum.

The truth of the matter is that on September 11, 2001 our country, our city, was attacked. The museum which commemorates this attack must tell the truth about who carried it out the same way in which history text books record that Hitler was a German Nazi, Mussolini was an Italian fascist, Stalin was a Russian communist. History cannot deny that 19 men responsible for the 9/11 attacks were Muslim extremists from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon.

And despite the fact that we’ve learned about the atrocities these men committed, we have also come to understand that not all Germans are Nazis, not all Italians are fascists, not all Russians are communists, and not all Muslims are extremists.

When discussing Italian fascism in history class, I never felt like I was being misrepresented while learning that the Italian army slaughtered 30,000 Ethiopians during the Second Italo-Ethiopian war in the late 1930’s. The truth is that those were Italian soldiers carrying out Mussolini’s orders, and just because my last name is Falcone does not mean I am somehow responsible for that.

At some point or another, the movement of extreme political correctness that we’ve been witnessing in this country needs to end before our history becomes watered down and re-written. That is why institutions like the 9/11 museum need to be testaments to the truth of what happened in our past, not a sterilized re-telling that is worried the truth of our history might not always be pleasant.

Despite what this interfaith advisory group would like you to believe, I still like my Muslim friends, and no, I do not blame them for the actions of those 19 misguided men.

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