‘Freedom’ Means Using the Name They Tell You To

For the New York Post (3/27/09), it’s “Free Dumb Tower.” For the same day’s New York Daily News, it means “No More Freedom.” They’re talking about 1 World Trade Center, which is what the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced it was calling the skyscraper it’s building on the site of the old World Trade Center destroyed on September 11–rather than Freedom Tower, as it had been previously referred to.

And the tabloids, naturally, are outraged. “Freedom is out of fashion at Ground Zero,” declared the Post. “Once hailed as a beacon of rebirth in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the Freedom Tower has been stripped of its patriotic name — which has been swapped out for the more marketable ‘One World Trade Center.'”

It’s worth recalling that despite the popular media line at the time, there’s little evidence that Al-Qaeda targeted the towers because they hated our freedom. The main association between “freedom” and the past or future buildings on the site is “free enterprise.” Not only is that more clearly conveyed by the old World Trade Center name, but it’s exemplified by the fact that the developers of the building are changing its name in apparent reaction to the preferences of the kinds of businesses that are likely to rent there.

But even commercial freedom looks too free for the Post and the Daily News–they seem to prefer the kind of “freedom” that can be used to shame people who are insufficiently patriotic.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.