What Goes On A Memorial?

In Connecticut a furor has arisen over the wording on a memorial for those who were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The town of Kent is putting up a memorial to a young man, James Gadiel, from there who was killed that day in New York City. Work on the memorial has been halted, though, because his father, Peter Gadiel, demands that it say his son had been “killed by Muslim terrorists.” He claims any other wording is “too soft” and would only be caving in to “political correctness.”

I’m no fan of “political correctness” myself, but what the elder Mr Gadiel wants is just not done on monuments of this sort. “Political correctness” is not at issue here … rather, custom and propriety are. If it were, there’d be lots of World War II memorials saying, “Blown up by Nazi bootlickers” or “Shot by imperialist Nips,” and Korean War memorials saying, “Slaughtered by Red invaders.”

I get that the elder Mr Gadiel is angry about his son’s death, but his emotions should not dictate what the town of Kent does with its money. He may appear — as the father of the deceased — to have the moral authority to make this decision, but the cold reality is that he does not.

What has made this case worse than it needed to be, is that the bellicose and sanctimonious Bill O’Reilly has taken up the Gadiel cause and rallied the troops of the Right against the town of Kent, condemning their “political correctness.” Unfortunately — and as usual — O’Reilly’s furor is displaced; his claim is, as I explained, moot.


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