UPDATE: Columnist Ralph Couey emails a clarification
Mr. Couey insists that his reference to “hopeless intransigence” was not directed at Mr. Burnett’s opposition to the crescent design but “dealt solely with the parties involved in the land purchase.”
I’ll take his word for that. The way he sandwiched his mention of Mr. Burnett’s protest in between his comments about the land deal certainly made it look like he was drawing a parallel, which is how I interpreted him, but there have been plenty of times when my own writings have been open to readings that I did not intend. These things happen. Here is the relevant part of Mr. Couey’s column:
I have to admit that for awhile, I was worried. There was the uproar concerning the design, and the dispute over the land purchase seemed to be hopelessly mired in mutual intransigence.Given what still remains to be bridged (Mr. Burnett’s protest), and the forward looking sentence structure “eventually can be bridged,” I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to see a parallel being drawn between the end of the landowners opposition and a hoped for end to Mr. Burnett’s opposition. Indeed, this implied hope is hard to escape. Still, there is no reason to doubt that the resulting association of “hopeless intransigence” with Mr. Burnett was accidental, whereas I simply asserted that it had been made. I should have been clearer, and so should Mr. Couey.
In addition, I was concerned over the tendency of some Americans toward selective amnesia.
Would this thing drag on until public apathy buried the whole idea of a memorial?
As it turned out, my fears were largely groundless. The design issues have been settled, although there are voices, including Tom Burnett Sr. (father of Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett Jr.), being raised in opposition.
And with the latest news about the land, it appears that even hopeless intransigence eventually can be bridged.
In any case, how Mr. Couey’s refers to Tom Burnett's opposition is a minor point. What the blogburst post focuses on is Mr. Couey’s apparent desire to see an end to that opposition, without any concern for whether our claims about the design are accurate or not. THAT is where Mr. Couey is untenable. If our claims are accurate (and it is easy to verify that they ARE accurate), then the crescent design is actually a memorial to the terrorists and it NEEDS to be opposed.
Thus our blogburst post goes to some length (in a pretty nice way I think), to urge Mr. Couey to please check a few facts before taking a stand. He says in his email that he prefers to defer to the families that are backing the crescent design. That is a nice sentiment, but it makes no sense. Why would he defer to ANYONE about very important matters of fact that he can check for himself in a few minutes?
The only reason for Couey to eschew the facts is if he doesn’t WANT to know the truth, which is how the Memorial Project got into this mess in the first place. The reason to point out the non-functionality of this truth-avoiding behavior is not make Mr. Couey look bad. It is to let him know about the opportunity he has to make himself look very good.
Couey can be a hero. He is in a great position to help stop a hijacking, if he will just look up from his presumptions for long enough to check a few facts. Who can turn down opportunity like that?