Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Tower Modeled After Our Version Of Freedom

I've been thinking about the redesign of the Freedom Tower, announced a couple of days ago, and it makes me sad, but it becomes a very apt icon for what's been a very muddled rebuilding.

One major change is the creation of 200 foot "pedestal." The concrete and steel pedestal, meant to be impervious to car and truck bombs, also happens to be windowless.

Let's consider what this looks like from two vantage points. From afar, you'll see a magnificent tower rising out the lower Manhattan skyline to the symbolic 1776 feet. Much like the way folks of the US like to think of their representation of freedom, hope and democracy, it stands tall, glassy and shiny for all to see.

But the pedestal, as much as any symbolic feature of the rebuilding, reflects a closer perspective of our freedom. 200 feet is about 20 stories of windowless concrete and steel, a fortress that, while being inpregnable, is also opaque, aloof and intimidating. So visitors to ground zero may experience what visitors (read immigrants) to US feel coldness, if not fear and reservation when trying to experience this version of freedom.

But it's aptness is how it reflects the culture of fear that responded to 9/11 rather that hope. Fear that leads to humiliating airport check-ins, leads to heavily armed guards in our subways, leads to wholesale arrests and deportment of so called illegal immigrants, leads to the ridiculous colour-coded threat levels, fear that leads to electing a president despite our reservations, if not opposition to the war he falsely started, not to mention the flailing economy he has overseen. Yes this is the perfect symbol of freedom in the United States of America.


Blogger Sam Teigen said...

A number of readers in the Times feel similarly...

Friday, 01 July, 2005  

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