Sunday, September 12, 2010

Of Architect Brands and 9/11

It’s curious how brand names come to mind even in the most profound of reveries.

I was in Manhattan yesterday on the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. It was a September day as sunny and beautiful as the one on September 11, 2001, and I paused in Bryant Park to read the New York Times’ advice on “the right way to remember 9/11.”

Surely the Times, of all voices, would have it “right.” And here’s what I was instructed:

Nine years after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, a memorial and a transportation hub are taking recognizable shape and skyscrapers are finally starting to rise from the ashes of ground zero. The physical rebirth is cause for celebration on this anniversary.

This is a far more fitting way to defy the hate-filled extremists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 and to honor their victims, than to wallow in the intolerance and fear that have mushroomed across the nation.

Then, with a slam at “bigotry" nurtured by people in positions of power “including prominent members of the Republican Party,” the parade of celebrity architects began:

“Michael Arad’s emerging memorial”…. a skyscraper taking shape “by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki”… “the first outlines of Santiago Calatrava’s elegant PATH station are visible”… followed by compliments to Mayor Bloomberg for exerting his “considerable muscle to make sure the memorial is finished by 2011.”

It’s amazing how bloodless and cement-focused the editorial is. The only passion is directed against Republicans and “politicians – mostly on the right – fanning the public controversy over plans to build an Islamic community center.”

Strange how – on the ninth anniversary of fellow New Yorkers jumping to their deaths from 100-story buildings – the “right way” to remember the attacks is by reciting the names of big-brand-name architects and sniping at politicians you don’t like.

Is that the “right” way? As I sat in Bryant Park yesterday on a brilliant September 11th, the brands that came to my mind were Boeing, American Airlines, United, FDNY, NYPD, and Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm located on the 101st to 105th floors of One World Trade Center, which lost 658 employees in the attacks launched not by right-wing bigots and not defended against by brand-name architects.



Anonymous said...

In a way, the Times article perfectly demonstrates and perpetuates the thinking that got us into this war of intolerance and hatred. By talking about "the right way," they strive to shut down any contrary points of view, any debate of issues that don't neatly fall into their world view. Isn't that exactly what the problem is? The right way to remember 9/11 is to search your own heart, take in all points of view, and reach your own conclusions. Expecting anything else of anyone is the pinnacle of bigotry.

brandsinger said...

Eloquently put, o anonymous soul.

Thanks for taking the time to share this insight.