This arresting headline from the Associated Press came across the wires today, and was widely repeated, for example on Yahoo’s main page: “Critics call WTC tower name change unpatriotic.” The article, of course, refers to the announcement by New York’s Port Authority that the building now under construction at the World Trade Center site will be called One World Trade Center rather than the Freedom Tower.
Intuitively, this seemed to be an unlikely claim, so I read the article carefully. The headline is justified by this assertion: “Critics called the name drop an unpatriotic shedding of symbolism by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.” The article, however, quotes not a single critic who said any such thing.
The AP reporter identifies three “critics” by name: former Governor George Pataki, who wrote an op-ed for the New York Post, and editorials in the Post and the New York Daily News. All three were indeed critical of the name change, but none called it “unpatriotic” or anything remotely close to unpatriotic.
This appears to be one more instance of a phenomenon that became familiar during the Bush administration: liberals falsely alleging that conservatives are questioning the patriotism of liberals. In fact, calling one’s opponents unpatriotic is a practice that exists mainly on the Left.