The redesign of architect Paul Murdoch's controversial Flight 93 National Memorial "features most of the details of the original" (middle and bottom images above are identical to drawings unveiled last September), "but a round, bowl-shaped area would replace a 'Crescent of Embrace,' a crescent-shaped cluster of maple trees," AP inaccurately reports. The bowl-shaped area is, in fact, the existing lay of the land. The "cluster of maple trees" planted along the rim of the bowl is a monumental grove of Red and Sugar Maples that would provide a sheltering promenade overlooking the sacred spot at the edge of the field below, where the hijacked plane crashed. We blogged here extensively on the topic, a voice in the wilderness of fellow bloggers of the right who saw cryptic symbols of dhimmitude where we -- donning our landscape architectural hat -- saw a curved allée of native tree species. The redesign extends the "crescent" into a rough circle, but some mad dogs are still howling.
"Michelle Malkin reports that the crescent design for the Pennsylvania AA Flight 93 memorial is no more. What replaces it sounds pretty banal. Are the only people with imaginations perverse?" asks The Claremont Institute blog, Local Liberty, getting our dander up again at the apparent blindness of otherwise brilliant people to the visual language of the landscape architect's art. As we wrote in the heat of the initial piling on in September:
To understand a landscape, you have to inhabit the site, if not in person, at least with your mind's eye. A cursory glance at an architect's plan isn't going to do it. As the widow of Flight 93's pilot, Sandy Dahl, put it, "No one was thinking of Islam when they were making this memorial. I would love for Mr. Tancredo [R-CO who criticized the design in a letter to the National Park Service Director] to visit the site and not look at an aerial photo of it."
But while some are blind, others continue to see things that aren't there. Alec Rawls of Error Theory -- we found him in a Technorati search of "Flight 93 Memorial" -- deserves the spike of visitors he is getting from Michelle, Little Green Footballs and The Corner at National Review for his tour de force "Redesigned Flight 93 memorial still an Islamo-fascist shrine," a demonic deconstruction of the hidden menace lurking behind every block and bush in the Flight 93 Memorial:
The redesigned flight 93 memorial, announced today, still contains all of the features that made it a terrorist memorial. Architect Paul Murdoch's infamous red crescent is still there, still planted with red maple trees, still inscribed in the exact same circle as before, and with the same two crescent tips still intact. Thus the crescent bisector defined by these crescent tips is also the same as before. It still points almost exactly to Mecca, making the crescent a Mihrab (an Islamic prayer station, where the believer faces into a crescent, towards Mecca, to perform his ritual prostrations).
You see what you want to see, we guess, but what's this "points almost exactly to Mecca"? Does it point to Mecca, or doesn't it? In fact, the so-called "crescent tips" were sited as they were -- at the northwestern and southeastern ends of the site -- not because of some secret alignment at right angles to an invisible line pointing towards Mecca but because these points marked the intersection of the arc of trees with the flight path and with the edge of the "sacred ground" itself where the plane crashed.
"Crescent array surrounds Tower of Voices. Line across crescent tips points almost precisely to Mecca," writes Alec Rawls. Yah, so? It would be pretty constricting if landscape architects had to avoid any possible reference to particular points of the compass in order to avoid offending certain people. In a reverse sense, it reminds us of the holiday-that-dare-not-speak-its-name phobia that's been gripping the nation of late.
The logic of Rawls's argument above -- that the "infamous red crescent" formed by the maple grove is a crypto-Mihrab signaling the faithful to face into it towards Mecca -- calls into question the relevance of an imaginary red line across the "crescent tips" of the rows of trees surrounding the Tower of Voices. Were we to enter this "crescent" -- we would call it an arc -- we would be facing a compass point at approximately right angles to the direction of Mecca. Is Mr. Rawls trying to have it both ways? But more importantly, why are serious thinkers and opinion shapers on the right side of the blogosphere following him down this rabbit hole again?
Update: A breath of fresh air -- and sweet reason -- from Bill Quick:
I've always thought the Flight 93 Memorial looked a lot better than what the conspiracy hysterics thought they saw in their feverish visions. Here's the final version. No more "arcs."
I'll probably try to visit in the fall, when the maples will be on fire. I expect it will be quite beautiful.