May 19, 2014

Is the #9/11 Museum gift shop tasteless, or not?

As New York City's 9/11 memorial and museum get ready to open on Friday, some people are objecting to the museum's store.

The New York Post, bastion of Murdoch-ism, of all people, calls it tasteless, though in not so many words. (That said, people who object to a cafe there are being ridiculous, I think.) That said, it's not alone.

Think Progress, that bastion of nuanced left-edge neoliberal Obamiacs, defends the place, primarily by comparing it to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial and museum.

There's two BIG differences, though.

First, OKC, at $12, costs half as much to enter as 9/11. Yes, I know everything is more expensive in New York, but still.

Second, OKC doesn't have a "crypt" of survivor remnants.

And, if Think Progress wants to compare the 9/11 museum to Auschwitz in having a store, I'm sure Auschwitz doesn't have a crypt, either.

I think that there's one other thing at stake, with that crypt, besides tastelessness.

It's that good old American exceptionalism.

There's still greed, too.

Hey, the FDNY stuff is "officially licensed and co-branded"! And, the charging of such rates after a $5 million donation store donation from a law firm that sued the city over first responder injury payouts probably adds to a lot of people's sense of tastelessness.

Let's look more at that money.

Invest it at, say, a 5 percent return and you've got $250K a year in revenue stream right there. You can sell a more tasteful line of tchotchkes, lower your admission price from $24 to $20 or $18 and still do fine on revenue.

Or you could go over the top and find every one of the most nutbar 9/11 conspiracy theory videos out there — I mean, start with Alex Jones and go more loony than that — and see what sort of gravy you can rake in.

That said, beyond greed, there's one other American commodity in hot trade here, one that probably carries more of a premium in NYC than in flyover land.

Vanity.

That law firm's already cashed a pretty big check of it for its $5 million donation, all of which was tax-deductible, of course.

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