(LifeSiteNews) — On the anniversary of 9/11, Facebook suppressed the promotion of a painting commemorating the passing of one of the victims who died in the World Trade Center attack 22 years ago, offering only a terse, perplexing rejection of the portrait’s promotion as being about “social issues, elections, or politics.”
The painting of “Alex” was commissioned by his sister not long after his untimely death.
“She wanted the portrait to be of him,” artist Gay Frances Willard said during a phone interview with LifeSiteNews in which she explained the various elements in the painting.
“Their father had also died five years prior to 9/11, and they used to sail in New York Harbor in their boat.” Willard found a touching way to include a depiction of their father having come in the family’s boat to take Alex.
“When I post images of my paintings, I usually boost the post from my business page,” Willard wrote on Facebook.
“Earlier today I posted my painting of Alex, remembering the events of September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, Facebook has chosen to reject the boost of this image and my post,” the North Carolina artist explained.
“If you are living under the assumption that our freedom is not being challenged, I would ask you to reconsider,” she urged. “This is not a rejection of my painting. It is a rejection of one’s freedom to express thoughts surrounding such a horrendous attack, and the seriousness of ever forgetting.”
The curt rejection notice left Willard with no clear explanation for Facebook’s action and with no means of recourse to have the Big Tech giant reverse its decision.
Willard told LifeSiteNews that large corporations have too much power to silence those whose voices they don’t want to be heard in the public square and that there’s not much anybody can do to fight back.
“I’m a small business person and I don’t really have any leverage to do anything about this,” she lamented.
“I don’t know what kind of country we’re going to have if this keeps on,” Willard said. “I’m ready to fight back.”
“This was an important story to tell. Alex was one of the ones that was lost,” she said, declaring, “I wouldn’t change a thing. There’s not one thing in there I would change.”
In her original Facebook post, Willard offered her thoughts about 9/11 and her painting titled “In Memory of Alex.”
Every year since 2001, I remember this day. Every year I look back at his face and I remember that there were thousands more. His name was Alex. He worked at the World Trade Center and he lost his life 22 years ago today.
This year I find myself remembering with peculiar sadness. There is always a sense of grief for THAT day … for the loss this nation collectively experienced. But the grief that permeates THIS day is even greater for what our nation has lost in the years that have passed. On that day, members of Congress stood side by side on the steps of the Capitol and sang together, united, with one voice, “God Bless America”. And I wonder; what level of tragedy must we endure before we come together again?
On that day we witnessed heroic deeds in real time. I remember seeing people run away from possible death, and I remember seeing people run toward it. Many of them did not come back. Perhaps the word “hero”, or some form of it, sounded in our ears more on that day than any day since. In the ones that followed, stories unfolded of selfless acts … of policemen … and firefighters … of extraordinary people … who died trying to save the lives of others. Perhaps today I grieve for a nation that has forgotten what a “hero” really is. Noble and courageous acts. Sacrificial giving of oneself for the sake of another. That is what we witnessed in the heroes of September 11, 2001. And there were so many more that we were shielded from seeing and will never know.
Today I grieve for a nation. My nation. Land that love. I grieve that disrespect can be regarded as “heroic”; that we have elevated celebrity … and victims … people devoid of courageous or sacrificial acts and have labeled them as “heroes”. I pray we do not forget the heroism or the tragedy, lest we be forced to remember both.
This is not the first time that Willard has found herself and her artwork at odds with Facebook.
In 2018, Facebook inexplicably covered over a posting of a picture of Santa Claus kneeling before the Baby Jesus, warning viewers that the photo “may show violent or graphic content.”
A second warning beneath the obscured image of Santa on bended knee, reverentially adoring the Christ Child, stated, “This photo was automatically covered so you can decide if you want to see it.”
After the LifeSiteNews report on the matter went viral, Facebook relented and ended their senseless censoring of the image.