Friday, September 11, 2009

Adding Up the Ground Zeroes

It is September 11th-but not if you're looking for the grandeur of a monument to the fallen at the site of the worst attack on American soil. As Steve Cuozzo opines: "New York decided to hand Osama a victory after all. Al Qaeda didn't bring the city to its knees on 9/11. But, as of today's eighth anniversary, we've failed utterly to replace what the terrorists destroyed. Ground Zero remains a pit -- and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future."

This is all way beyond disgraceful-and the list of miscreants is a long one: "How did we come to this? We let our "leaders" do essentially nothing for nearly five years after 9/11 -- a time when the boom could have supported Silverstein's borrowing effort and provided tenants for his towers. The corrupt, rudderless state government is mostly to blame. Then-Gov. George Pataki wasted 2002 and 2003 setting up an impotent Lower Manhattan Development Corp. He authorized interminable design competitions, then overrode his advisers to choose the Daniel Libeskind site plan -- which was so inappropriate that it took another year of emendation to make it even remotely buildable."

And our mayor? He was too busy with Doctoroff's Olympic scheming: "Mayor Bloomberg dithered until 2006, when he brokered a deal that forced Silverstein to cede Tower 1 to the PA -- which is building it at the slowest pace since the elements forged the Grand Canyon."

Even Rudy Giuliani, whose moribund career was re-started by the catastrophe, gets a share of the opprobrium: "Rudy Giuliani, a 9/11 hero, called for the entire WTC site to be made into a memorial -- lending rhetorical throw-weight to the insidious campaign led by The New York Times against commercial rebuilding."

But the most blame, in our view, lies outside of the parameters of the Lower Manhattan pit. Here the guilty are even more insidious than the monumental fools-and the meretricious call for turning 9/11 into a, "National Day of Service," epitomizes the cancer that is infecting our national consciousness. It is a willful attempt to forget, rather than remember, just what happened eight years agbe

Dennis Smith underscores-and excoriates-this sick world view: "I never saw smoke like that foggy, acrid screen of 9/11. There was a terrible death in the air, and it tore everyone apart to be in that place on that morning, for every fallen stone told you of the awful loss of life...We have never seen such sadness. But, we all know that even from such profound sadness can come hope, for all hope - all commitment to build a better future - is based on memory. Remembering is sacred. Yet Congress has created a National Day of Service and Remembrance to remember 9/11, an act that has shifted the emphasis from memory to activism. Painting park benches or tutoring in schools is not a worthwhile tribute to those lost on 9/11."

But this kind of misdirection symbolizes the tactics of those who want us to forget why the attack occurred-and the evil ideology that spawned it. Colonel Ralph Peters captures this ("betraying our dead," indeed); and calls out those among us who would leave us vulnerable to a second wave:"We resolved that we, the People, would never forget. Then we forgot. We've learned nothing. Instead of cracking down on Islamist extremism, we've excused it. Instead of killing terrorists, we free them. Instead of relentlessly hunting Islamist madmen, we seek to appease them."

Peters isn't finished with his diatribe: "Instead of recognizing the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi cult as the core of the problem, our president blames Israel. Instead of asking why Middle Eastern civilization has failed so abjectly, our president suggests that we're the failures. Instead of taking every effective measure to cull information from terrorists, the current administration threatens CIA agents with prosecution for keeping us safe. Instead of proudly and promptly rebuilding on the site of the Twin Towers, we've committed ourselves to the hopeless, useless task of rebuilding Afghanistan. (Perhaps we should have built a mosque at Ground Zero -- the Saudis would've funded it.)"

So, in reality, the pit at Ground Zero functions well as a symbolic memory hole-and the fact that our president could hire a "truther" on his staff is the icing on this rather rancid cake. We can only hope that our memory lapses and betrayal of those who died don't come back to haunt us. We knew too many people who were killed exactly eight years ago today-including our friend, firefighter Mike Boyle. He and the thousands of others killed deserve better. From all of us.

The whole in the ground tells the entire sad story. Perhaps we should just leave it there.