Wednesday, August 04, 2010
USA Out of NYC
I am proud of New York City today. Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously not to designate as a landmark the building where a proposed Islamic community center is to be built. And yes, it will include a mosque. Republicans of the ilk of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin have weighed in against this community center claiming it is an affront to the victims killed on 9/11/01 (the community center will be two blocks from Ground Zero.)
It is important to point out that the LPC does not consider building use in deciding landmark status. They vote on the historical and cultural value of a structure, so technically, they were neutral about the plans to transform the building into this community center. But with people from Alaska and wherever the hell Newt is from stirring up racial hatred, it was actually impossible for them to remain neutral, and that makes it all the more impressive that they didn't succumb to FOX news style pressure (take a lesson Mr. President!) and gave the green light to this project.
Part of what was so irksome about the right wing bandwagon attaching itself to this cause was how cynically they use New York City and 9/11 as symbols of their fear-based, hate-filled agenda. Any other time, they only see New York as a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah that they would happily see fall off the face of the earth. Hey - it would mean eight million less Democratic voters!
The title of this post comes from the cover of a poetry journal that came out shortly after 9/11. It summed up how a lot of people in the city felt when they heard people saying things like "We are all New Yorkers now" from the safety of their homes in Kansas. As much I believe in no separation and that we are all one, there are different experiences, different lives. So, no, if you lived in Kansas or Alaska on 9/11/01, you actually have no idea what it was like to be in New York on that day, and the days and weeks immediately afterwards. You don't. And that is perfectly fine really. Just back off when it comes time for the people who were here to make decisions about how we want to proceed.
Sometimes I tease Dan about how he has ended up in a field (preservation architecture) that is so staid and stuffy, usually after some reception where we have stood around talking about stained glass or slate roofing for two hours. The only way you might know they are actually deeply passionate about these topics is when they loosen their ties slightly when something really hot comes up, like finding replacement stone from an original quarry. Baby! Hold me back! So yeah, sometimes I wonder at how a working class lad like Dan has ended up in such refined company. But you know, maybe I have been wrong the whole the time. Preservation architecture might actually be the crucible for our modern day politics.
Go Preservationists! Way to kick butt! Tastefully, of course.