69 million page views

Response to Ground Zero Press Release

Reader comment on item: The Ninth 9/11

Submitted by Stephen Push (United States), Sep 12, 2010 at 08:43

The following is an open letter from Stephen Push, a cofounder and former board member and officer of Families of September 11, to Donald W. Goodrich, chairman of the board of Families of September 11.

September 11, 2010

Dear Don,

I wish you peace and comfort on the anniversary of the terrible day that changed our lives forever. Thus it saddens me to have to send you this letter on this of all days. But I am even more saddened that you and the rest of the Families of September 11 board of directors committed a grave abuse of privilege by issuing the press release on the Cordoba Initiative yesterday.

Your disclaimer about not speaking "as if [FOS11's] members are of one mind" does nothing to lessen the abuse of issuing a press release under the auspices of an organization that purports to represent 2,400 members, including 1,700 relatives of 9/11 victims. Your profession of speaking only your own mind appears disingenuous given that you issued a "Press Release by FOS11 Board Members," signed by you on behalf of the entire board and posted on the organization's Web site. The release gives the impression that the leadership of a large organization of 9/11 families supports the proposed location near Ground Zero.

In reality, the "members" of FOS11 have no voice in its governance. All power rests with a board of directors who elect themselves and a majority of whom, at the present time, do not appear to be 9/11 victims or relatives of victims. That might be acceptable if the organization were representing fairly the interests of its constituency. But I don't see how your press release fairly represents those interests. The families are divided, with many strongly opposed to the proposed location of the Cordoba project. Polls indicate that majorities of Americans, New York State residents, and New York City residents oppose the location. I see no reason to believe that a poll of 9/11 families would produce different results.

This is a clear illustration of why, before I resigned from the board, I opposed allowing non-9/11-family members on the board. The organization has lost touch with its members and has become a vehicle for the self-gratification and self-aggrandizement of the board. In the old days, we either supported positions taken by a majority of the families or, if we could not do so in good conscience, remained neutral as an organization.

I also object to your characterization of the opponents of the proposed location of the Cordoba project as "shrill and hysterical." Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has publicly called the United States "an accessory" to 9/11 and refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization. Given Imam Rauf's equivocal statements and the fact that radical Islamists have established or taken over some mosques in the United States, it is reasonable to raise concerns about the Cordoba Initiative. Even if Imam Rauf proves to be the moderate he claims to be, there is nothing shrill or hysterical in the statements most 9/11 families have made in the press opposing the proposed location. For them, including at least one Muslim 9/11 family member, it is an issue of respect and sensitively.

Many 9/11 families are angry about your press release, especially given its timing the day before the anniversary. Bill Doyle received nearly a thousand e-mails about this just yesterday afternoon.

I urge you to retract the press release immediately. Future comments on issues at odds with the views of FOS11's members should be made by you as an individual, without the use of the organization's resources, or under the auspices of an organization that shares your views.

Sincerely,

Steve

The writer is a cofounder of Families of September 11, served on its board of directors during its first three years, and was its Treasurer during its first year. He donated some of the organization's initial funding; helped secure its initial grants; managed its media relations; directed its Washington, D.C., office; testified before Congress and the 9/11 Commission; and was active in most of the organization's initial projects, including being instrumental in the establishment of the 9/11 Commission, in supporting completion of the Commission's report, and in winning implementation of the Commission's recommendations. His wife of 20 years, Lisa J. Raines, was killed aboard American Airlines Flight 77.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Response to Ground Zero Press Release by Stephen Push

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2023 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)