Saturday, September 17, 2005

Crescent of Cluelessness

Alexandra begins her post "Crescent of Embrace" as follows:

'Crescent of Embrace', the much anticipated memorial designed for the victims of 9/11 Flight 93, according to some looks like a symbol of the Islamic red crescent, suggesting Islamic victory.

To me, because of the designers' known affiliations to the left extremists, they were more likely to have modelled it on the Marxist red sickle of communism...

I'm interested to hear her say that, because when I first saw the model, I thought of Communism before I thought of Islam, as well. At any rate, after quite a bit of good sense, she closes:

Whether the intention was inadvertent or deliberate, is at this point irrelevant. What is relevant is that the memory of these peoples' deaths is not tarnished with a single thought dedicated to the terrorists that killed them. I mean really.

Exactly. Exactly. And you know, the appalling thing is that if the memorial had been in any form that could have been interpreted as a cross, the ACLU would have already filed sixteen lawsuits...but that's a hypothesis contrary to fact, simply because no architectural firm would bother to try to get any even vaguely cross-shaped element incorporated into the memorial's design.

But what most gets to me isn't the crescent thing (though anybody who can't see that it's a terrible idea to include anything that resembles an Islamic crescent -- much less to actually name the thing, over the objections of the second-stage jury, "Crescent of Embrace" -- cannot be said to have a functioning sick-irony meter). It's the whole tone of the memorial, which is as tone-deaf to the significance of Flight 93 as can well be imagined. It is so bloody modern-day-American to be asked to celebrate a group of heroes whose final actions embodied nobility, courage, and self-sacrifice...and put your focus instead on the need to create a "healing" and "embracing" experience. In other words, the architect is concerned about the sorrow of the bereaved, and making their pain go away, the avoidance and minimization of pain being one of modern America's highest goals; and while we're at it, let's all love each other and include everybody in the mother of all group hugs.

But the memorial ought to be about celebrating the bravery of the passengers who fought back, not about the pain of the families who were left; and the only "embrace" the terrorists want to offer us is the marital embrace of the black widow spider. If the architects had been given a challenge, "We want you to determine the historical and political significance of what happened on Flight 93, and then create a 'memorial' that communicates none of that significance and even works against it," then I don't know how you could have done better than the "Crescent of Embrace" design.

I don't mean to belittle the pain of the families, really I don't, but this is supposed to be a national monument, and it ought to celebrate what it is about Flight 93 that is of national significance. The families' pain is a matter of personal significance, and it should be an object of national compassion. But it is not a matter of national significance. That's not stated very well but I don't know how else to say it. I do very devoutly hope that the families' pain is healed over time. I also hope that America does not forget that it takes courage and bravery and self-sacrifice to defend freedom, and that freedom is worth the cost. The healing of the families' pain: that's why you send cards and encouragement and suppers that have been already cooked. But the reminder to America of what heroism is, and how any of us may be called on to be heroes without warning -- that's what a national monument is for.

Put it this way: the architect is trying to create, so far as I can tell, a peaceful monument, a soothing place -- a very high-class, high-toned cemetery, you might say, the Garden of Eternal Rest that your local mortician can only dream of building. But Flight 93, as a defining American historical event, is not about peace. It is about people who found themselves, through no choice of their own and with not the slightest warning, in the midst of war -- and to the astonishment of their foes, rose to the challenge. They still died; they died in a holocaust of jet-fueled explosion and violence and, in the last moments of that final screaming drive, probably terror; but they probably saved the White House. Their end was unquestionably heroic. It was also about as far from peaceful and "reconciled" and "embracing" as it very well could have been. Had they all sat back in their seats and composed themselves peacefully, to the soothing melodies of wind chimes...

Well. The struggle against Islamofascism will not be won by wind chimes and soft gentle breezes and maple leaves, anymore than was the struggle against Communism. (And no, that was not a snide aside on the military prowess of Canada.)

Look, I can tell I'm not saying this well. Is it at least clear that I think that a design that focuses on "healing" and "reconciliation" and similarly soothing words, is intrinsically a design that is dominated by concern for the visitors' fragile feelings, rather than by admiration of the passengers' heroism? And if so, doesn't that mean it's not much of a "memorial"?

If you're not sure what the heck I'm talking about, Michelle Malkin is very upset about the memorial and will certainly be monitoring the situation. Her most recent post, as of this posting, is here.


At 6:52 AM, Blogger Alexandra said...

You know it's always difficult to take the position of 'the glory of the heroes', instead of pampering to the ones left behind. It is an easier terrain to find plenty of landmines in, and by the time you finish writing the article, feel utterly misunderstood and angry with yourself for having started it in the first place. As I said, the glory path of the departed heroes is always the more difficult of the two, even though it has a reasonable amount of landmines of it's own, they are not defended by the heroes themselves but by the living relatives who remain, and whose level of criticism is inevitably centered around their own feelings, therefore making the terrain treacherous.
It is easier for you to reach your conclusion, deriving a huge amount of moral and spiritual strength from your Faith. You therefore know with absolute certainty and conviction, that when we weep we weep for ourselves, in utter delusion that we weep for the departed. That gives you the ever misunderstood accusative tone, which in fact is actually a tone in relentless memoriam to the heroes that did not just sit back in their seats, but saved others by way of sacrifice.

Ken, throughout history, if you decided to side with those that 'do', as opposed to those that 'don't', whether they are dead or alive, whether they are heroes now but were spat upon earlier, you will always draw the proverbial short straw. My genes unfortunately draw me to your position every time, and have taught me, no matter how hard that position may become, it is always the preferred one.

And what's with the esoteric Buddhist type peaceful shrine with the wind chimes, soft and gentle breezes and maple leaves, when the purpose is to commemorate the good old American values, the foundation upon which this great nation was built.

Well I for one understand exactly what you are saying.

I spend a lot of my time being misunderstood, so I know that feeling intimately. I do however feel that the day Michelle Malkin is the one to clarify what you are saying, I will get up from my desk, put my pen down, and never touch it again....


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