Not Establishment Press News: Iconic Ground Zero Photo Seen as Too 'Rah-rah' American, Almost Excluded From Museum

It has been almost 48 hours since the New York Post's Melissa Klein first reported that "This iconic picture of firefighters raising the stars and stripes in the rubble of Ground Zero was nearly excluded from the 9/11 Memorial Museum," because "the museum’s creative director ... considered the Tom Franklin photograph too kitschy and "rah-rah America."

A Google News search on "Ground Zero New York" (not in quotes, past seven days, showing duplicates) returns only 24 relevant items. None are from establishment press outlets. The same search at the Associated Press's national web site also returns nothing relevant. Excerpts from Klein's Post report, as well as Publishers Weekly's review of the upcoming book, are after the jump.

First, from the Post (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Iconic Ground Zero photo was nearly excluded from museum for being too 'rah-rah' American

This iconic picture of firefighters raising the stars and stripes in the rubble of Ground Zero was nearly excluded from the 9/11 Memorial Museum — because it was “rah-rah” American, a new book says.

Michael Shulan, the museum’s creative director, was among staffers who considered the Tom Franklin photograph too kitschy and “rah-rah America,” according to “Battle for Ground Zero” (St. Martin’s Press) by Elizabeth Greenspan, out next month.

“I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently,” Shulan said.

... Eventually, chief curator Jan Ramirez proposed a compromise, Greenspan writes. The Franklin shot was minimized in favor of three different photos via three different angles of the flag-raising scene.

“Several images undercut the myth of ‘one iconic moment,’ Ramirez said, and suggest instead an event from multiple points of view, like the attacks more broadly,” the book says.

“Shulan didn’t like three photographs more than he liked one, but he went along with it.”

(Shulan said that) “My concern, as it always was, is that we not reduce [9/11] down to something that was too simple, and in its simplicity would actually distort the complexity of the event, the meaning of the event,” he said.

What is so "vehement" about raising the flag? What Shulan seems not to like is that raising a flag is "patriotic."

As to his excuse -- Things are always so "complex" and "complicated" in Leftyland, aren't they?

It seems simple to me, but perhaps I'm not as gifted at seeing nuance as Mr. Shulan:

"The event" is simple to me, but perhaps I'm not as gifted at seeing nuance as Mr. Shulan: Four groups of Muslim terrorists hijacked planes on September 11, 2001. Two of them took down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. One crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth was prevented from carrying out its murderous mission by heroic passengers and crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attack was orchestrated by Islamist followers of Osama Bin Laden, who declared the attacks a direct assault on the U.S. and all it stands for. Until they were told to cool it, Palestinians celebrated the success of the attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people from more than 90 countries around the world. Americans renewed their commitment to their country, vowed revenge on bin Laden and others involved, and largely got it.

Is that too "complex" for you, Mr. Shulan?

I would suggest that the establishment press won't cover this story because: a) It knows that people will be outraged, especially when they learn that there had to be a three-view "compromise" to get the flag-raising scene included at all, and b) It knows that Mr. Shulan's objections will also generate outrage.

As to the book itself, the editorial review from Publishers Weekly at Amazon seems to give away a bit of the reviewer's (to be clear, not necessarily the book's) bias (paragraphs breaks added by me):

From Publishers Weekly

The tension between commerce and commemoration at the World Trade Center site is given a riveting narrative construction by urban anthropologist Greenspan.

Among the many questions Greenspan addresses is how to recreate millions of square feet of commercial office space on a site that has become a national symbol of mourning and, in some quarters, rage.

Within days of the disaster, plans to rebuild arose amid contrasting, often conflicting, attempts to define what the site represented, and what it should become. From disaster area to graveyard to tourist attraction to construction site, Greenspan utilizes years of reporting on Ground Zero for the Atlantic Monthly and other publications, to create an engrossing and evolving portrait of unrealized expectations and political gamesmanship.

Constantly returning to the streets surrounding Ground Zero, Greenspan captures the mood of both New Yorkers and the nation, as devout attempts by those less affected to claim a piece of spiritual ownership of 9/11 transform into frat-boy antics of jingoistic posturing in some cases, and developers battle designers over memorial space, while politicians opportunistically hover.

As One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) approaches completion, Greenspan's exactingly researched and artistically rendered reportage thoughtfully details its twisting journey upward.

It would appear that to the PW reviewer, anyone believing that including the Franklin photo as originally shot is a jingo ("a person who professes his or her patriotism loudly and excessively"), and that any advocacy for its inclusion predominantly involves "frat-boy antics."

I guess the next step is to start tearing down those "jingoistic" war memorials, eh, PW?

Cross-posted at

Events 9/11 Foreign Policy Middle East Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Labeling Military War on Terrorism Melissa Klein Michael Shulan Osama bin Laden

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