Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Flight 93 Memorial - Why Isn't This an Issue?

Updated September 11, 2008

The Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania is a cluster of coincidences. This memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93, who died while trying to regaining control of their airliner on September 11, 2001, just happens to:
  • Feature a crescent of trees
  • Be pointed more exactly at Mecca than many mosques
  • Be called the Flight 93 'Crescent of Embrace' - before enough people raised a stink
And now, it seems that someone who criticized it has been fired: "Blogburst: Pentagon not the only department letting Muslims cover up terror threats." That post's lead paragraph reads: "The military’s top expert on jihad ideology was fired last week at the behest of a Muslim aide to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. The aide is a friend to the grand-daddy of all modern Islamic terror groups, the Muslim Brotherhood. His influence is penetration of the top levels of the Pentagon by our terror war enemies."

I'm not convinced that Paul Murdoch Architects' Flight 93 Memorial is a stealth mosque. On the other hand, I'm concerned that this peculiar set of coincidences, public knowledge for years, seems to be a non-issue.

I would have thought the possibility that a memorial to victims of Islamic terrorists being, in effect, a huge mosque, would be a newsworthy issue. Possible explanations include:
  • The use of an attackers' symbol in a war memorial (equivalent to a WWII American memorial having trees planted in the shape of a swastika) is such a trivial matter that it doesn't warrant attention
  • The matter has been discussed in the news media, back in 2005, and so is 'old news'
  • The desire of people in public positions to be seen as 'tolerant' is so strong, that any criticism of non-western symbols is literally unthinkable
I've written about this before: "Flight 93 Memorial: There's a Bad Smell Here" (October 1, 2007).

In fairness, the Paul Murdoch Architects "FLIGHT 93 NATIONAL MEMORIAL" description (with pictures) looks very nice. Neither the pictures, nor the descriptions, seem to be particularly 'Islamic.' A feature that appealed to me was a tower containing 40 wind chimes.
September 11, 2008

Looking back on my posts on this topic, and the research I did, I still can't decide what was going on. Whether the designers were:
  1. Tone-deaf to how people outside Los Angeles might react to a war memorial with a "crescent of embrace"
  2. Unaware that the crescent was an important symbol in Islam
  3. Thoughtlessly multicultural
  4. Tools of Islamic radicals
  5. Lucky - or unlucky - enough to have part of the memorial design pointed at Mecca
Or, some combination: maybe including points the list missed.

I'd be surprised if numbers 2 or 4 were right.

Islam is a major world religion, and it's about as likely that designers wouldn't know about the Islamic crescent, as that they wouldn't know that white is a color of mourning in Japan.

There may be tools of Islamic radicals in America, but the odds that a team of architects and designers, who were chosen to design the Flight 93 memorial, were also a team of Muslim secret agents can't be very high.

Numbers 1 and 3 aren't, I think, all that unlikely. People tend to know their own sub-cultures best, and sometimes have difficulty understanding how outsiders think and feel. In a way, I applaud what may have been an effort at inclusiveness. If the "crescent of embrace" was intended to reach out to Muslims who weren't trying to kill people they don't like, it represented a fine sentiment. And, one presented at the wrong time.

Bottom line? I doubt that the Flight 93 memorial is some kind of Islamic plot. I'm bothered by the goofy way the design was presented, and a little troubled by the alignment with Mecca, but weird coincidences do happen.

And, it looks like it'll be a beautiful place.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.