FSM bless the cynical inhabitants of the city of my birth, who know that every political scandal is just a question of who’s gunning for which benefits. The gated-community HOA fiefdoms and small-town Baptist baronies of Heartland America™ may pose atop their whited sepulchres, but the teeming hordes of the metropolis are forever at war with the propriety of convenient public memory, or the lack thereof. Frank Rich indulges himself on the topic of “How Fox Betrayed Petraeus”:
So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?
Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.
The dueling demonstrations today in New York should be interesting.
Of course, how come none of the rhetoric from pundits, politicians etc. to gin up emotional responses is actually directed to the spot where most of us might have some real interest – Ground Zero. We are almost 9 years past 9/11 and there is no discussion about the memorial that will be open in just a year or so..
The most controversial memorial in the US – the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – was completed only 3 years after the idea was developed.
The winning design for the memorial was chosen in 2004. Yet here we are 6 years on and still some time from completion. And no real national discussion about this.
I expect that next year at this time, there will be some sort of ginned up controversy about the memorial – some noises are already being heard but the politicians and pundits are not really engaged yet. They will be by next year.
Will it be a museum or a shrine?” asks David Simpson, a professor at the University of California-Davis who wrote 9/11: The Culture of Commemoration. “Sometimes you have to wait 20 or 30 years to tell a story. It’s not a great time for an open discussion of 9/11.”
If we have a hard time having an open discussion about a community center being built blocks from Ground Zero by the ‘wrong’ folks, what sort of discussion will we have about the site itself.
I wish all the energy swirling around a business development project blocks away from Ground Zero had been used to actually do something that would have real meaning for all of us. Instead, politicians and pundits play word games to divide us. I expect they will do so next year also.
Now who does that serve? Who wins win Americans are divided? Certainly not Americans.