Hallowed ground: Why other nations think we’re nuts

Scott Hanley at Angular Unconformities used Google Earth to see how other nations deal with the placement of potentially-offensive installations near the sites of their great national calamaties.

Charles Krauthammer pushed the argument to the shark-jumping bridge in his regular column at the Washington Post:

When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there — and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.

That’s why Disney’s 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War (and that was wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

We noted on another thread that there is, in fact, a Japanese Cultural Center at Pearl Harbor.  Hanley wonders how the Japanese deal with reminders of the being the victims of the first atomic bomb used in warfare — a topic upon which the Japanese are understandably extremely sensitive.

Go to the photos, see what Hanley found:

Hallowed ground

Baseball and 7-Eleven, symbols of American cultural imperialism at the site of the world’s first nuclear assault. McDonald’s, by contrast, maintains a discreet 2000′ distance across the river.

This campaign against a Moslem cultural center in lower Manhattan is the prototypical example of where the “Ugly American” myth gets its roots. Hanley’s analysis is incredibly simple, no?

19 Responses to Hallowed ground: Why other nations think we’re nuts

  1. […] “Hallowed Ground:  Why other nations think we’re nuts” […]


  2. Nick K says:

    It would appear that those on Lower’s, Morgan’s and Mr. Right’s side would discriminate against Muslims and take away their rights in this country. It would appear that their side would blow a hole through the US Constitution in the name of fear and hatred.

    Oh and tell me, lower, the right has drummed up fear of homosexuals, blacks, hispanics and now Muslims in their quest for political power. Who is next? Native Americans? Asians? Women? When does the fear mongering end for you?

    From a recent article in TIME:
    Yet the survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — a slightly higher percentage than the 24% who mistakenly believe the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim. In all, just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2011799,00.html#ixzz0xXqUKgr8


  3. Nick K says:

    Mr Wro…er Mr. Right writes:
    4: Why so gung-ho for this temple? You hate religion. So why are you for the construction of ANY religious temple. They all hate your science you know. All of them.

    I’m Catholic, child. Have been all my life. Would you like to try again? Oh and most of Christianity..indeed most religions get along perfectly fine with science. The ones that don’t? Well isn’t it curious that it’s always the fundamentalists of any religion that hate science? And I would argue that if you want an example of those that hate religion you can’t get much more hateful of religion then the fundamentalists. They’re the ones that twist religion into a fearful hateful thing. They’re the ones that use religion to attack others. They’re the ones that misuse and abuse religion.

    As for why I have no problem with that mosque it’s simple…one of the ideals of this country is religious freedom. They have just as much right to a mosque there as a Christian has to put up a church. Despite the bulldrek claims this isn’t about “Celebrating the Terrorists.” for them.

    And despite your delusion to the contrary the freedom of religion includes the freedom from it. Indeed there is no freedom of religion without freedom from it. Meaning people are free to be atheists if they so choose. Just like I, as a Catholic, am free to choose not to be a whackjob evangelical fundamentalist like certain people I could name. Or are you dimwitted enough to say that religion should be forced on people?

    Mr. Right writes:
    : How smart is it to build a stronghold in the middle of enemy (or in this case ‘infidel’) territory. If this mosque wasn’t being build so close to GZ and on a spot that has become sanctified by debris to Muslim extremists, then this wouldn’t be an issue. If the real intent of House Cordoba is to be a bridge of peace, then why enrage the majority of a nation with this project. Obviously, because peace is a lie. This mosque is a holy monument to Muslim Extremists.

    It’s not a stronghold, it’s a community center and a worship place. Do bother to remember that Muslims were victims of 9-11 too. Oh and I’m not referring to the terrorists. But tell me, Mr. Right, since you seem bent on blaming all of Islam for the actions of a crazed few does that mean that the entirety of Christianity can be blamed for the actions of a crazed few? Is the entirety of Islam to blame for the assisination of that abortion doctor? That was done by a terrorist in the name of Christianity. The two terrorists that blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City belonged to the terroristic Christianity Identity movement.

    Furthermore, the Imam that would be spiritual leader of that mosque has condemnic Islamic extremists and acts of terrorism. Or did you forget when both Glenn Beck praised him as a moderate Muslim last year and when George W Bush did the same 8 years ago? And tell me..why wasn’t that mosque a controversy until just this last month? It’s been going through the approval process since last year and noone uttered a peep about it. Indeed several people on Fox News praised it…before they decided to attack it.

    Or did it ever occur to you that the only reason that this mosque is actually a controversy is so the right wing can continue to try and gain political power by scaring the American people out of their minds? Meaning if this wasn’t election season, child, this wouldn’t even be a controversy.

    If you so hate this country that you can’t live by the ideals of this country…if you so hate this country that you can’t abide by the US Constitution and the laws of this country why do you remain?

    Did you pee in your pants and surrender to the terrorists on 9-11? Because that’s what it sounds like. One of the goals of the terrorists was to convince the West that this is a war against the entirety of Islam. And to convince Muslims that the United States is an enemy to Muslims. And there you sit…giving the terrorists exactly what they want.

    It’s a pity you no longer have the cajones or the morality to stand up for what is right in the face of mindless hate, fear and intolerance.

    Learn the facts of the situation, Mr. Right, learn the law, learn some morality and then ask yourself this question. Would you want to be treated how you’re trying to treat the Muslims in this country? I very much doubt it.


  4. thomas says:

    If you want shivers to go up and down your spine and your blood to curdle, read the excellent article on the Koch Brothers (Corporatist super-rich funders of the Teabaggers, many of the faux right wing extremist think tanks including the old CATO Institute, and all of the hate Muslims, the president is a Muslim, Death Panel, Town Meeting screamers and racist old white lizard skinned spitting vile assholes who are/were duped by same Corporatists):


    by Jane Mayer

    in The New Yorker Magazine


  5. Nick K says:

    [M]any mosque opponents argue, just because it can be built does not mean it should be. They say it would be disrespectful to the memories of those who died on 9/11 to build a Muslim facility near the World Trade Center site. I appreciate the depth of emotions at play, but respectfully suggest that the presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near ground zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaida terrorists who attacked our nation….

    Some have also argued that the construction of the mosque would hand a propaganda victory to Osama bin Laden. I think the opposite is true. Al-Qaida justifies its murder by painting America as a nation at war with Islam. Celebrating our freedom of religion and Muslim Americans’ place in our communities is a blow to al-Qaida’s ideology of hate and division. We strengthen America by distinguishing, clearly and unequivocally, between our al-Qaida enemy and our Muslim neighbors….

    Jeff Merkley (D-OR), making the argument that most Democrats have shamefully refused to make http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/jeff_merkley_shows_dems_how_it.html

    So tell me, Morgan and Lower….you can make the distinction between the terrorists and regular Muslims right? Especially Muslims who are citizens of this country, yes?


  6. Mr. Right says:

    So, let me get this straight…

    It is an ‘incredible analysis’ to post a picture of a 7/11 and a baseball field in Hiroshima and extrapolate that as justification for building a mosque at ground zero?

    1: When Americans adopt cuisines, businesses and sports from other countries, it’s called ‘culture’. When other countries adopt American interests, it’s called ‘cultural imperialism’. The Japanese have Americanized themselves since before the 80s, as have many other countries. Baseball is a huge sport over there.

    What, Japanese kids aren’t allowed to like big gulps or baseball? They can only like squid-chips and kendo? How appropriately racist and ignorant!

    2: Building a mosque is right because a baseball diamond was built in Hiroshima? Two wrongs make a right? Baseball is a religion…one that is inferior to Islam? Something once was done wrong and you hate it, so it’s okay to do it again as long as it’s on the opposite team, the one you don’t like. Baseball bad, Islam good? Gotcha.

    3: The ‘ugly American’ hypothesis (why other countries think we are nuts) is valid because other countries support American businesses like 7/11 and baseball of their own free will? I for one am glad other countries think we are nuts. Why the hell would I want to have a point of view in common with a nut-cluster of other countries in various states of dictatorship, war, famine, and corruption who, after being around for thousands of years, still can’t wipe their own asses? Meanwhile, how old is America? Exactly. America bad, 3rd-world countries that don’t know peace from dogshit in a sack good? Gotcha.

    4: Why so gung-ho for this temple? You hate religion. So why are you for the construction of ANY religious temple. They all hate your science you know. All of them.

    5: Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom FROM religion. Guess what belief system the majority of American voters have?

    6: How smart is it to build a stronghold in the middle of enemy (or in this case ‘infidel’) territory. If this mosque wasn’t being build so close to GZ and on a spot that has become sanctified by debris to Muslim extremists, then this wouldn’t be an issue. If the real intent of House Cordoba is to be a bridge of peace, then why enrage the majority of a nation with this project. Obviously, because peace is a lie. This mosque is a holy monument to Muslim Extremists.

    Frankly, your logic is not impressing me here. For future reference, I will remember that a photo of a platypus standing in a wind-farm is an ‘incredible analysis’ of how the soft-sciences of evolution, green energy, and liberal scientists are illogical.


  7. Nick K says:

    And I’ll add this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/view-from-ground-zero-mosque/

    Tell me…can you see where that proposed mosque will be from that view?


  8. Nick K says:

    I know you asked this question in the other topic about the Mosque in NYC, Morgan, but the answer to the question of where they’re getting the funding for the mosque…is they intend to issue bonds for it. I’m going to assume you know what bonds are. Source for that is the Newsweek article on the controversy. Which is another article I suggest you both read since it talks about the very different viewpoints two mothers who both lost sons in the 9-11 attack have. Of particular interest to both you two is what they both agree on in the end. Oh and it mentions one of the Muslims who was a victim of the 9-11 attack. I don’t remember his name as I read the article at my doctor’s office this morning. But he was an EMT in New York City.

    And I suggest you and Lower read this:

    Mon Aug. 23, 2010 3:00 AM PDT
    President Barack Obama has declared that a group of moderate Muslims have the right to build a community center in lower Manhattan, two blocks from the site once occupied by the World Trade Center towers. Yet representatives of a wholly US government-funded outfit have joined the vociferous opposition to the Park51 or Cordoba House project that critics have dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” A leader of this group—which receives $4.3 million a year from the government—has even proclaimed that the community center could be a front for Islamic terrorism. That’s not all: the same agency, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCRIF), has been the subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint for allegedly discriminating against Muslim employees.

    The commission was created by Congress in 1998 to monitor religious freedom around the world and scold countries that aren’t meeting religious freedom obligations outlined by international human rights treaties. Its sole source of funding is the US government; it is empowered to make recommendations to the president about policy decisions related to issues of religious freedom. Recently, the commission has decried Vietnam for its systemic violation of religious freedom and slammed China for its repression of Uighur Muslims. But leading conservative members of the commission have supported the opposition to the Cordoba House, essentially joining those who want to deny New York Muslims the freedom to build their religious and cultural center at this particular site.

    In a recent piece for National Review Online, Nina Shea, one of USCIRF’s nine commissioners (who are selected by the president and congressional leaders), wrote that instead of “a cultural center for all New Yorkers,” the “mosque” project could be “a potential tool for Islamists”—suggesting it would be a hotbed of jihadism that, among other things, spreads the literature and ideas of Islamic extremism. She compared the leaders of the Cordoba House project to convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman (the “blind Sheikh”) and accused Fort Hood and Christmas Day bombing coordinator Anwar al-Awlaki. (Shea’s piece, as of Monday, was no longer showing up on the NRO site.)

    Shea, long an influential figure in neoconservative circles last appointed to the commission by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), is not the only commissioner of this religious freedom organization trying to block the Cordoba House project. Leonard Leo, the chairman of the commission and a top official in the conservative Federalist Society, is director of Liberty Central, a new tea party-related rightwing group organized by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Liberty Central has organized a petition campaign against the Cordoba House project. Moreover, Virginia Thomas is one of several conservative leaders participating in a 9/11 rally against the Cordoba House project, organized in part by anti-Islam activist/blogger Pam Geller, who runs an organization called Stop Islamization of America and who kick-started the “mosque” controversy. (Geller recently said that Obama has “sided with Islamic jihadists.”) To break this down: the chairman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (Leonard Leo) is working closely with a conservative activist (Virginia Thomas) who is a featured speaker at an event being mounted by an outright anti-Islam group.

    And as TPM reported, Richard Land, another USCIRF commissioner and the influential president of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has opposed the project, comparing it to a (non-existent) Shinto shrine near Pearl Harbor and a (never-built) convent near Auschwitz. (Land says that the USCIRF itself is prohibited from intervening in domestic matters, but the commission has officially criticized a Saudi-run high school in Alexandria, Virginia.)

    The USCIRF also happens to have connections to former UN ambassador John Bolton, one of the fiercest critics of the Cordoba House project. Bolton served as a USCIRF commissioner in the early years of the George W. Bush administration, and Jackie Wolcott, the commission’s current executive director, worked under Bolton when Bolton was in charge of nuclear nonproliferation efforts within the Bush State Department. (Bolton wrote the forward to Geller’s anti-Islam book and is another scheduled speaker at her September 11 rally against the project.)

    The USCIRF may have internal problems with Muslims, too. In February, the Washington Post broke the news of religious infighting at USCIRF. According to the Post, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, a former policy analyst at the commission, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that her contract was cancelled because she was a Muslim and affiliated with the Muslim Public Affairs Counsel, an advocacy group. Another researcher at the commission, Bridget Kustin, quit in protest after Ghori-Ahmad’s contract was not renewed. In her resignation letter, Kustin wrote that she did not want to “remain part of an organization that would be willing to engage in such discrimination.”

    In a message on the commission’s website, Leonard Leo notes that the USCIRF “seeks to advance the visibility of and serious thinking about” how to best address the challenge of religious “intolerance” throughout the world. Yet Leo and the conservatives of the taxpayer-financed commission are siding with the foes of the Cordoba House and bolstering the misleading claims about the “mosque.” They have not been advocating tolerance at home.


  9. Nick says:

    Whatever…maybe we can build a Centre for The Death of American Thought in Krauthammer’s brain. That would be entirely appropriate.


  10. Nick K says:

    TO quote:
    One last thing you have to keep in mind is that what offends one culture may not always offend another.

    Oh…so you have no problem with the Muslims being offended when someone draws Muhammed, right?

    That claim that the mosque has anything to do with “Muslim Imperialism” is imagined nonsense. It’s blaming the entirety of a religion for the actions of a crazed few. Something you don’t do for Christianity and refuse to do.

    ANyways, it’s a New York decision and it should have stayed a New York decision. You, Lower, and the rest of those on your side are being nothing but bullies. You say they should be “respectful” but you don’t respect them. You say you respect their rights to their religious beliefs…but you won’t respect their right to practice those beliefs where they choose. You want to choose for them…something you wouldn’t allow someone to do to you.


  11. Ed Darrell says:

    Also, WWII and dropping the A-Bomb was hardly about American imperialism but about American survival. Have you forgotten Pearl Harbor as well as 9/11?

    It’s a sore spot with Japan, and has been since the event. Harry Truman had to make a decision, and he took the path of using atomic weapons. While many of us argue that saved at least a million American GIs, and up to 5 million Japanese civilians, the fact remains it was a horrible decision, with horrendous consequences. Pearl Harbor notwithstanding, it was a terrible event. Any human with any compassion acknowledges that.

    But, did the Japanese ban U.S. things, thoughts, faith, memories from the site?

    No, among the greater achievements of Japan after the war was to forgive the U.S. Every year the Japanese government, Japanese corporations and the Japanese people invite Americans to the memorial services to those 200,000 or more who died in the bomb blasts and immediately after.

    Lincoln wondered aloud whether he had not slain his enemy when he made his enemy into a friend. Japan practiced that philosophy, and the entire world is much better for it. (Can you imagine how much different things would be in the Middle East if aggressors simply acknowledged they were aggressors, and agreed to just get on with things without expecting revenge from the vanquished of the last battle, regardless who started the thing?)

    According to Christian scripture, Jesus didn’t say, “Ask to be forgiven after getting vengeance on your imagined enemies.” Jesus said we need to forgive offenses to us. That’s why the Christians who think deeply about these things do not call for protests and demonstrations.

    Japan was finished. The Soviet Union was pouring over the border into Japanese territory and pushing the war to a quick end even as the bombs fell. The war would have ended without the bombs, and probably with far fewer casualties than Truman’s fears, once the Soviet Union got in.

    It was not an issue of U.S. survival. It was an issue of how quickly we got back to normal.

    In all of that, there remains the astounding grace of the people of Japan, forgiving Americans the use of the atomic bomb, and getting on with peace.

    It’s an example we, the winners in this war on terrorism so far, would do well to remember.

    One last thing you have to keep in mind is that what offends one culture may not always offend another.

    Offense varies from person to person. Wisdom shouldn’t. Our nation is built on ideas, and the idea of religious freedom for all is powerful. It saved our nation in the War of 1812, when the great atheist Stephen Girard personally bore the financial burden of the war when the federal treasury was broke. Girard was here for religious freedom, for freedom from religion. Born in France, he arrived the first time in Philadelphia in 1776. He quickly determined the U.S. was more comfortable with his moral, atheist views, which would make him subject to the Inquisition were they well known, in France. He stayed for religious freedom. Girard became the richest man in the world by some accounts. When the U.S. badly needed the help of that wealth, he didn’t hesitate. (Nor was he paid back completely.)

    If and when we gratuitously make enemies of Americans, especially, over issues of religion, we piss away religious freedom at a cost we cannot know. We shouldn’t piss it away.


  12. Ed Darrell says:

    I just think it’s interesting…in that other thread, you attacked me for appearing to harbor pure-populism notions, that if so-many-people in the community think something then it’s time to start deciding issues that way, thereby screwing around with basic rights. Given that you’re so clearly opposed to such a thing, I think the title you chose is interesting. Actually, it’s fascinating. You point out someone else thinks something, and this means something? Hmmm. Gee, what an exclusive privilege it is you have.

    You over analyze things, and miss the point. Krauthammer argues that putting a Moslem community center near the old World Trade Center site is “like putting a Japanese cultural center near Pearl Harbor.”

    Heh. Of course, as we now know, there is exactly that thing at Pearl Harbor. So, the next extension at a few sites was to putting up a U.S.-honoring building at the real, original Ground Zero, in Hiroshima.

    Heh again. You can see the photos.

    But you don’t have a rebuttal now that the legs are gone from Krauthammer’s argument, which is the same thing you’ve been arguing.

    Time to gracefully acknowledge that, yes, we’re obsessing over this thing way beyond sanity — note that the Japanese don’t obsess over Ground Zero.

    You, however, think the headline is the story.

    And that is why other nations think we’re nuts.

    Of course, you’d dismiss other nations, because . . . well, because you’re filled with hubris.


  13. […] Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Hallowed ground: Why other nations think we’re nuts […]


  14. […] York Mosque, again: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub has an interesting post pointing out that Hiroshima does have several American things near ground zero a…. Surf there to see the satellite photo and to read the title of his […]


  15. Deborah Kelly says:

    “Also, WWII and dropping the A-Bomb was hardly about American imperialism but about American survival.”

    First of all, the U.S. is not synonymous with “America.” There are three americas and the U.S is on small part of them.

    Second, are you implying that the building of a Muslim community center in NYC has to do with imperialism of some sort? What about the Middle Eastern restaurants, etc. there? What are they? Stealth imperialistic ventures?

    Third, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had nothing whatsoever to do with anyone’s survival. If that were so, then Germany would have been bombed. But then, that would never have been anymore acceptable than placing those of German ancestry in concentration camps in the U.S. as were those of Japanese ancestry. It’s just not nice to drop weapons of mass destruction (that, by the way, have a tendencey to alter DNA affecting a number of generations of progeny) on white people.


  16. lowerleavell says:

    Baseball is a Japanese phenomenon as well. The 7-11 is hardly a place of worship, unless you really, really like Big Gulps. :-) Here is a great example of a situation where I see no churches within 500-700 ft. or anywhere near it and I would say it would be inappropriate to be there and dedicating it on the anniversary of the a-bomb being dropped. There appears to be a chapel fairly nearby where it looks like you can have a “christian” wedding, but that’s all I could find. Everything was in Japanese so it’s hard to tell. :-)

    Also, finding precedence doesn’t automatically make something right – it just might mean someone did something wrong in the past as well.

    One interesting thing that I found on google is that the memorial itself was controversial in Hiroshima – some people wanted it torn down so not to have ANY reminder of the A-Bomb, since this building survived the bomb. Others wanted it preserved and it was.

    Also, WWII and dropping the A-Bomb was hardly about American imperialism but about American survival. Have you forgotten Pearl Harbor as well as 9/11?

    One last thing you have to keep in mind is that what offends one culture may not always offend another.


  17. Hi Ed,

    I’ll leave the apples-and-oranges aspect of this analysis/comparison alone.

    I just think it’s interesting…in that other thread, you attacked me for appearing to harbor pure-populism notions, that if so-many-people in the community think something then it’s time to start deciding issues that way, thereby screwing around with basic rights. Given that you’re so clearly opposed to such a thing, I think the title you chose is interesting. Actually, it’s fascinating. You point out someone else thinks something, and this means something? Hmmm. Gee, what an exclusive privilege it is you have.

    Carry on.


  18. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave (UBB) Hill, Alltop Education. Alltop Education said: Hallowed ground: Why other nations think we’re nuts http://bit.ly/bpAXWa […]


  19. thomas says:

    Krauthammer is one of the original signers of the PNAC Manifesto, also known as the blueprint for US hegemony in the Middle East, the primary justification for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one wished-for, dare I say prayed for, attack on Iraq. These are the NEOCONS. Jeb Bush is one of them. A couple of days ago, John Bolton (remember him, the Bush recess appointee as US Ambassador to the UN) – a moron who never got confirmed) who said it wouldn’t matter at all if “four floors of the UN Secretariat were destroyed.” That master statesman said that when he was serving at the UN, representing you and me. He and the other PNAC NEOCONS wanted and still want the UN to fail.

    It is the NEOCON’s wet dream for there to be major wars in the Middle East. Number one, the US war machine is fed. Profits were/are beyond belief. Number two, the Biblical prophecy of the End Times (as interpreted by the right wing Evangelical scholars in the US – read Robertson, the young Rev. Graham, the Regent University attorneys, Jerry Falwell, and Ms. Scarah Paylin, now working on her PhD. in international relations with a special focus on Russia – in admiration for the spectacular Condi Rice, former incompetent US Secretary of State under Bush the Lesser – that great Prophecy in which there is Armageddon followed by return of Jesus and the Rapture where all “good christians” are taken bodily up into heaven, and all Jews and Muslims and all other “Heathens” will need to converted to christianity to be “saved.”

    That is the unholy alliance between the Evangelical/Fundamentalist christians and those who support the Jewish state. The Christians don’t like to talk about the need for all Jews to convert in order to not be damned for eternity in hell, especially when they are leading fat cat white rich American christianists on Biblical study tours of the Holy Land.

    These people are a sick bunch of puppies.


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