The cultural and spiritual vacuum of New York and America into which the imperial Muslim mosque builders have moved
in today’s New York Post
, John Podhoretz reminds us how the beyond-disgraceful failure of New York State’s political and business leaders—especially that lazy doofus George Pataki who was the man in charge—to replace the destroyed World Trade Center and its damaged environs gave the Muslims the opportunity to build the mega mosque there. I would add that the problem was not just a failure of political will and political competence, but a spiritual
failure. America’s elite class, having nothing to believe in except for the sterile and empty abstractions of freedom and equality, no longer inhabit a coherent, concrete culture, and so were unable to conceive of or or agree upon a sensible project to replace the WTC. Instead, they kept being drawn to plans for nihilistic, despairing memorials, freaky postmodern cityscapes, and an absurd 1776-foot high “Freedom Tower,” which turned off normal people and went nowhere. As a result, nine years later, the site of the most traumatic disaster in American history remains a desolate lot—a fitting symbol of the emptying out of our culture by liberalism.
Here is Podhoretz’s column:
The shame of New York
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The real story of the Ground Zero mosque is that the project only became feasible because of the appalling and astonishing fecklessness of the officials who were charged with the reconstruction of the site and the neighborhood all the way back in 2001.
We’re just three weeks shy of the moment, nine years ago, when the landing-gear assembly from the plane that hit the South Tower smashed through the roof and two floors of 45 Park Place, which housed a Burlington Coat Factory.
Imagine that, in the weeks following, you had expressed the opinion that in nine years’ time, that building would sit abandoned only 560 feet from Ground Zero—and there would be no memorial, no museum, no nothing on the 16 acres on which the towers themselves sat.
Forget the whole question of whether there would be a mosque (or Islamic cultural center) in its place. Just imagine that you’d delivered the view that New York would so completely fail to maintain a sense of purpose regarding the salvation of Ground Zero. Imagine the scorn to which you’d have been subjected at the suggestion.
Yet here we are. Memories of the last nine years have turned Ground Zero from a site of horror, to a reminder of grief, to an occasion for ludicrous artistic posturing—and now to something very close to parody.
Grand and grandiose schemes floated in the immediate aftermath of the attacks—opera houses, museums, exact replacements of the Twin Towers, the tunneling of West Street, the memorial inside the “slurry walls,” the 1,776-foot building, the $2 billion PATH station—have vanished or shrunk to meaninglessness or transmuted into nothing.
In retrospect, with the exception of finding the precious remains of the victims, maybe Ground Zero shouldn’t have been cleared at all. Maybe those 80-foot piles of twisted steel—which seemed to go on forever, and filled everyone who saw them with a kind of horrified rage almost impossible to put into words—should’ve stayed in place as a reminder of the evil, just as the hull of the USS Arizona sits in the waters of Pearl Harbor and always will.
It seems certain now that the clearance of the horror led directly to the shameful dereliction of leadership that allowed the most important building site in American history to become a ludicrous testament to the ability of postmodern Americans to hamstring themselves and lose sight of what is most important.
With the removal of the wreckage came a lassitude, a lack of urgency, that turned the silly arguments over whether this second-class dance troupe or that weird little museum should get a major venue on the site into urgent matters requiring months of public debate.
Then, of course, there was the design competition that led to the preposterous and architecturally unfeasible Daniel Liebeskind building—which was basically scrapped two years after it was declared the winner.
Oh, and how about that Michael Arad memorial, called “Reflecting Absence,” with reflecting pools and an “underground interpretive center” whose designer all but demanded control of the $350 million set aside to pay for it?
Something will be there, something called a memorial. But it isn’t there yet. Nine years have passed. Nine years. Nothing.
It’s safe to say that, had Ground Zero been handled better, or handled at all, the Burlington Coat Factory site wouldn’t have been sitting there fallow to be snapped up for a song and given to Imam Feisal Rauf. The buildings around the site would have been renovated in ways that would have been respectful of it and with some positive relation to it.
It’s an unimaginable failure with many fathers: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the politicians who control it; the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., and others. But at the top of the list of shame sits former Gov. George Pataki, who had primary statutory authority for the site and whose idea the design competition was.
Pataki’s forgettable 12-year governorship deserves to be remembered only for what he was unable, unwilling or just incapable of doing when history called on him to do something great. Instead, he dithered and fought and pouted when Rudy Giuliani got too much credit, and fantasized about running for president and finally faded away.
Pataki called President Obama “dead wrong” for supporting construction of the mosque. But this wouldn’t be an issue at all if Pataki had done the job that posterity called upon him to do. His failure is our shame. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Karen writes from England:
America’s elite class, having nothing to believe in except for the sterile and empty abstractions of freedom and equality, no longer inhabit a coherent, concrete culture, and so were unable to conceive of or or agree upon a sensible project to replace the WTC. Instead, they kept being drawn to plans for nihilistic, despairing memorials, freaky postmodern cityscapes, and an absurd 1776-foot high “Freedom Tower,” which turned off normal people and went nowhere. As a result, nine years later, the site of the most traumatic disaster in American history remains a desolate lot—a fitting symbol of the emptying out of our culture by liberalism
Your comment illustrates the fact that nature abhors a vacuum and will always fill it with an alternative power structure. America’s elite, having no concrete and permanent traditional social structure and culture, have created the void which has been filled by Islam as the only organised culture and tradition in the USA willing to exert its supremacy. To be American means everything and hence nothing.
Earlier this year I wrote to you and said that America was in a much more serious condition than Europe. I think the mosque proposal shows that this is true. The Muslims have demonstrated this. They would never dare to make such an audacious request in Europe. Whilst Americans talk about “conservatives,” what is there left of the original culture to preserve? It has become so diluted by immigration and ideologies of liberalism, egalitarianism, and racial equality that there is nothing left but a deracinated mass. Even the Russian Communists would never have put a Muslim black man in the Kremlin.
Readers should be sure to see the big discussion Karen set off last March when she argued that Europe is much healthier, conservatively speaking, than the U.S.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 19, 2010 12:59 PM | Send