Bird's-eye view of topographical model of Paul and Milena Murdoch's "Crescent of Embrace," winning design for the Flight 93 memorial, conveys little of the rationale nor the sense of place intended by the designers. The apparent resemblance to the crescent moon that is part of the internationally recognized symbol of Islam has some elements of the blogosphere seeing red.
"Our memorial is not about offering explanation for what happened, but to allow people to come to terms with it," explained architect Paul Murdoch, whose winning design for the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania was unveiled this week. On paper it sounds like just what the doctor ordered, an antidote to what offends so many of us about what Michelle Malkin accurately dubbed "A Blame America Monument" proposed for Ground Zero. Says the designer:
The idea of the Crescent of Embrace, Murdoch said, is to be a gesture of healing and bonding. The crescent marks the edge of the land, which will remain largely untouched.
The Murdochs wanted to ensure the tranquility and serenity of the landscape. They also noted, though, the rawness of the site. There is constant wind, and in the winter, blinding snows are common.
In other words, Islamic symbols never entered the designers' mind. They were looking for the spirit of the place and took their cue from the lay of the land. But some on the right side of the blogosphere -- as one of Charles Johnson's more measured commenters says -- cannot see the forest for the trees. "Is this a coincidence, an example of amazing cluelessness, or something more deliberate?" asks Charles portentously, and the Lizardoids [his fans] are off and running -- 723 comments and counting -- to riotous effect:
"A spokesman for the new design said that the panel wanted to avoid all controvery or symbols of Islamism in the new design, and so chose a happy, uplifting central feature, the folded table cloth from a family-style Italian bistro," writes Lizardoid and blogger Ace of Ace of Spades re a "replacement memorial" for Flight 93.
And yet it's not a problem. As we ourselves said in Charles's comments (#692):
As a landscape architect, I'd say it's a matter of a failure on the part of the designers to convey the experience of the place through their model and drawings. It's what we used to call in grad school "bird's-eye design." What looks like a Muslim symbol in the model is, on the ground, a vibrant grove of red maples and sugar maples that will be green in summer, red and orange in fall and snowbound with bare branches in winter. It has great "capabilities," but none of that comes across in the design documents.
Michelle Malkin asks "What do you think?" We think the whole thing is grist for the creative mills of bloggers and their loyal readers, and no blogger's readers are more loyal -- not to mention legion -- that the Lizardoids of Little Green Footballs. A provocative question like Charles's "Amazing cluelessness or something more deliberate?" exercises our thinking and writing skills and every so often brings forth a keeper like Ace's "replacement memorial" above. The blogosphere rules!