With the back-story elements in place, the Quillnews movie development memo for Betts and Bernstein would begin its front story dramatic arch:
Opening Scene: After the destruction of the World Trade Center the initiatives to rebuild the site required a variety of private investment, philanthropic activities, and government actions to merge, finance and balance the various interests. Among the many volunteers in this initiative were nearby Manhattan entrepreneurs, Betts and Bernstein. Betts became president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is in charge of the rebuilding effort. Bernstein became co-founder and chairman of the International Memorial Foundation, which the LMDC has designated can build a Memorial complex will honor those who died and the sacrifices of many and renew our commitment to celebrate life. Say the organizers: “The creation of the Memorial and Memorial Center and new cultural buildings on the World Trade Center site will be a powerful symbol of resiliency, inspiration and hope in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Cultural programming on the site of the World Trade Center will remind us of our common humanity and reaffirm our democratic values.” Helping raise funds for this will be the WTC Memorial Foundation, on whose board Bernstein serves.
Quillnews comments: given Betts and Bernstein’s movie-making skills, business and social connections, their charitable and business successes you have to wonder, among other things, what kinds of videos will be in the new Memorial center and what will the messages be? We can assume that it will not be like those flag burning thugs in Queens. But will it be like the Human Rights First/ACLU video Bernstein help engineer that used seditious anti-American images to accuse the Bush appointee responsible for waging war of torture, and demanding that another Bush appointee name a special prosecutor to investigate? They say no. The IFC vision reads: “International Freedom Center has reached out to an extraordinary roster of scholars, educators, museum directors, and cultural leaders who provided their input and expertise. Exhibitions, lectures, films and other programs will be developed in partnership with leading arts, cultural, media and academic institutions such as the Aspen Institute, NYU, WNYC Radio, and New Visions for Public Schools.”
Various Scenes: Hmmm. It is quite a list of big shots involved in the WTC redevelopment. The sister of the pilot whose plane was flown into the Pentagon Sept 11 wrote a moving essay in the WSJ this week. She fears the worst. (LGF) For the movie about this conflict, I’d have a series of scenes depicting the rebuilding efforts in lower Manhattan. I’d suggest images of handsome, well-dressed persons at private luncheons at university clubs, mingling congenially at receptions at museums and in galleries overlooking private parks, perhaps images of quiet phone conversations by the principles involved who take a private moment away from their days at the investment houses and private equity firms. In responding to unlearned complaints from the lower orders, these attractive well-meaning people would assure each other their intentions are the best and for the long term legacy of the memorial, that funds are coming and that various public pressures are being managed properly. A good line one of the principles can say to another: "our man from the Wall St. Journal will take of it." (WSJ)
Quillnews comments: If a Hollywood screenwriter was writing a story treatment for a proposed project for Betts and Bernstein’s Silver Screen consideration, any pro would certainly juxtapose the images of those punks burning the flag in Queens (exercising their free speech), with the ACLU images of Rumsfeld from the prisons pictures and work up the dramatic tension of the moment. I mean, come on. You have President Bush, his best Yale pal in Betts and his younger Eli buddy, and you could get all wrapped up in this dramatic tableau of personal private loyalties, public betrayals, differing world views, the debating points about when to push for human rights and when to push for international security, when to show mercy and when to wield lethal justice. It would be a great film. In Media-ville. We have the good guys in Queens, the venal rich bad guys in Manhattan… Uh-oh. Cut cut cut! The script is going to need some work.
Here I believe we have to stop. Betts and Bernstein are not the right guys to do this film. Any honest film maker would cast these guys in a light they would never see for themselves – private privilege unknowingly selling out their country to the enemy because they refuse to confront evil and its dangers, and because they happen to believe their world view is superior. This is a well-worn story line. For references one can look to 20th Century Europe. Like I said, this story line for a film these guys would pay to have made would need work.
What also needs work is the their sense of reality in real-life. Unlike in Media-ville where the dynamics and good and evil can be carefully controlled and calibrated, the real-life Betts-Bernstein cabal is displaying a dangerous lack of judgment and perspective in war time. Their secure, private world of entertainment financing, sports, good works and public service and philanthropy is all very polite, in just the kind of protected privileged and elite confines in which smart guys raised the way they were would live. They may think it is just fine to boast of being pals with Bush, have made millions making movies and later in the baseball business with him, and donate their time to human rights causes, including (in a protected legal brief) accusing Rumsfeld of being a criminal torturer during a war which, among other things, protects their privilege. This is fair game in their world it seems. A lawyer and former Dow Jones guy named Richard Tofel who Bernstein hired to be president of the IFC, said Thursday:
Freedom, we have learned time and again, is not a gift from our parents to be put on a shelf and admired. It requires work in our own time, work each of us can do and all of us must do. Nor is the story of freedom one which began in America--or one that can end here. Ambassador Martin Palous, who fought for freedom in his own Czechoslovakia, now serves the free Czech Republic, and is also one of the more than 35 scholars of freedom who have advised the International Freedom Center, put it this way: "9/11 is a story of courage, hope, and freedom: the courage to make the decision to go into the buildings to save someone, the hope to start anew after disaster, the wish to base our society on free will in the context of a pluralistic public sphere. It was a moment of truth in the story of freedom, and it connects the United States with democratic revolutions around the world, which share this quality of believing in the possibility of new beginnings." Out of the tragedy of September 11 came a renewed civic spirit, and the International Freedom Center will work to sustain that. This is work that can unite people of goodwill everywhere. To be sure, the International Freedom Center will host debates and note points of view with which you--and I--will disagree. But that is the point, the proof of our society's enduring self-confidence and humanity. Moreover, the International Freedom Center will rise above the politics of the moment. It will not exist to precisely define "freedom" or to tell people what to think, but to get them to think--and to act in the service of freedom as they see it. And it will always do so in a manner respectful of the victims of September 11.
Quillnews’ reaction: Gaak! Oh, my. Rise above the politics of the moment, say like producing a TV spot that calls for a special prosecutor to see if Rumsfeld is a torturer? The IFC, whose architects find it okay to accuse their country’s leaders of dishonor during wartime and wants to ensnare the government fighting that war in a special prosecutors quest for misdeeds, will pursue goals “to get them (vistors to the WTC site) to think and to act in the service of freedom..” Hey, you know, who asked them? Do these sanctimonious twits know the future of America’s national security, the defender of freedom, is at stake? More importantly, do they know who they are dealing with? In this case, I’m not referring to the jihadists. (Update: Cavuto) The people I believe Betts, Bernstein and the rest of the downtown do-gooders need to pay attention to the people on the street corner in Queens who are still patiently wishing for someone to stop the jihadists, and to the families of the Americans who continue to serve, to fight, to sacrifice and to volunteer to protect liberty. This patience and toleration won’t last forever while rich people fight over clauses in court. And it will not last if the threat to America’s freedom grows or, heaven forbid, in the event of another attack on the homeland. Being Yale grads and members of the Council on Foreign Relations, I would encourage Bernstein and Betts to study the works of Walter Russell Mead WRM. America’s Jacksonians are fighting this war. They don’t do nuance or have patience for artful interpretations of complex events in polite settings. They would destroy such a setting in a heart beat to defeat the enemy. In pursuit of this enemy, Americans at war hunt for traitors, thrown stones, call names, and will kill enemies and tolerate nothing but victory.