September 10, 2005

Flight 93 Memorial Intended To Offend

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues its coverage of the Flight 93 memorial in today's edition by noting that a number of people have seen a connection to the Crescent of Embrace at the heart of the memorial and its obvious Islamic symbolism. Paula Reed Ward reports that "online bloggers" started the controversy, which those involved in the design called "disgusting and repellent" (via Michelle Malkin):

There's a growing outcry that one element of the newly chosen Flight 93 National Memorial represents Islam and is a slap in the face to the passengers and crew members who died on the hijacked plane four years ago.

The winning design, announced Wednesday in Washington, D.C., includes what is called the "Crescent of Embrace." That element of the project calls for two rows of red maple trees to be planted around a bowl-shaped piece of land adjacent to the crash site. The trees, according to the architects, are there to create a physical edge to the landscape and accentuate the topography.

Almost immediately upon seeing the design, online bloggers suggested that it is inappropriate to use a red crescent in the memorial. ...

But the architects who created the winning design say their design has nothing to do with Islam.

"A crescent is part of architectural vocabulary. It's a generic form used in design," said Paul Murdoch, one of the winning architects. "We don't see any one group having ownership of it."

Murdoch believes it's unfortunate that the design is being interpreted that way.

"You can call it all kinds of things. We can call it an arc. We can call it a circle. We can call it the edge of the bowl. The label doesn't matter to us in terms of intent. We have no objection to calling it something else."

But as Ward reports, the advisory jury which selected the design asked the architects to do just that. They specifically wrote in their recommendation for this design that the name "Crescent of Embrace" be changed to "circle" or "arc" in order to avoid references to "specific religious iconography". That sounds as if the jury, which included victim family members, recognized the potential Islamic references at once.

Why didn't Murdoch heed that request? After all, it came from the victims' families, as the rebuttals have argued in specifying their support for the overall design. Instead, Murdoch kept that nomenclature, which argues that he probably intended for it to evoke that iconography for its controversial nature.

He gets support from Tom Solokowski, who sat on the jury and runs the Andy Warhol Museum. He calls the notion that an Islamic symbol at the memorial could offend people "delusional ... disgusting and repellent," even though his fellow jury members raised the exact same issue. Does that make them delusional as well?

Yesterday's post on this subject generated a heated debate on the nature of the memorial, with a few defenders pointing out the generic shape of the crescent and arguing that its inclusion in the design has no ill intent, and that therefore any objections to it relegate us to lunacy. In response (and I posted this as a comment in the thread), allow me to offer a proposal for a World War II memorial in Pearl Harbor, something new and modern that can be located near the USS Arizona, and see if everyone likes it. Perhaps it could even be a mosaic or a mural on the side of the Arizona Memorial, as an addition.

I think it should symbolize the re-emergence of the US in the Pacific after the devastating attack on our fleet at Pearl. It should represent the national effort to come out of the East to reclaim our position and to establish a beacon of freedom and prosperity.

A rising sun would perfectly symbolize that.

It should also represent how we used thatas a launching point to liberate the many islands in the East Pacific that suffered under the brutal Japanese occupation. Several sunrays could symbolize our efforts across the vast ocean to bring freedom to the oppressed in faraway lands.

And since our national colors are red, white, and blue, I would design it as a red sun on a field of white, emerging over a blue ocean. Now, you may not see much of the blue because of the sea line on the memorial, but the idea would be to have the sun rise above the sea line on the Arizona memorial anyway.

Wouldn't that be a great way to memorialize those who died in a heroic battle for their country?

Oh, wait -- the "wingnuts" are claiming that the Rising Sun looks almost exactly like the battleflag of imperial Japan, the very nation that attacked Pearl Harbor! How silly of the "wingnuts"! Why, the sun belongs to everyone! And it even appears on a state flag -- Arizona's!

Had someone trotted out this idea in 1946, they'd be lucky to ever find work in the US again. It's a measure of the intellectual erosion of the Left that this kind of thinking gets celebrated and defended today.

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