“Appeasing the Critics”

That’s the snarky headline over a story from a Pennsylvania newspaper regarding the controversial memorial design for Flight 93, which fell to the earth in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11.

As we have maintained, words matter. Whether the designer of the site, Paul Murdoch, unwittingly chose a crescent shape to memorialize the forty people who died at the hands of Islamic fanatics is not the issue. What matters is the effect of his choice of words for the symbolism behind his design. Peter Drucker was right: “communication is the act of the recipient.”

It speaks to the naiveté of the group — family members, “design professionals,” and people from the community — that they and Mr. Murdoch seem taken aback by the criticism of the memorial so inaptly named “The Crescent of Embrace.”

Consider this: suppose that instead of a crescent shape, the design proposal consisted of two straight roads which intersected at the point of Flight 93’s impact. Suppose further that the design had been christened (so to speak) “The Cross of Embrace”? Which critics do you think would have to be appeased for that symbolism?

Here’s a solution that will appease some and raise further objections by others: change the design so that if follows more closely the shape of an arc rather than a crescent. It would entail reducing the angle by which the arc is subtended from the center of the circle. In other words, flatten out the crescent so it looks more bow-shaped. This could still be made to follow “the curving land form” Mr. Murdoch says he was incorporating into his design.

Everything else could remain the same, except for those two changes —

1. Make the shape look more like an arc;
2. Call it “The Arc of Embrace.”

Stephen Vincent was right when he said “words matter.” In fact, either they are crucial bonds or they are dividing lines.

And if they don’t matter, well then — just put in two roads and call it “The Cross.”

5 thoughts on ““Appeasing the Critics”

  1. No matter what is done to that design, it will be a weepy, passive paean to navel-gazing.

    Which is just the sort of amnesiac state desired.

    The memorial that lives in my mind’s eye will always be closer in tone to a studded fist.

  2. My thought was more along the lines of a complete circle. Call it “The Crater Without the Rubble Of the Destroyed Capitol.”

    cathy 🙂

  3. Dymphna, glad to note that you are well.

    BB and Dymphna, a4g

    I’m glad to see that the design is going to be changed.

    Quote from the designer
    “It’s a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this, but if that is a public concern, then that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities,” Murdoch, 48, of Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview.

    I’m particularly satisfied with his choice of the word “misinterpretation”.

    Remember that we discussed using subversion as one way to confuse and disorientate the misguided. Now over at Dhimmi watch, this is precisely the technique used when writing to the National Park Flight 93 Memorial website.

    A couple of samples give the flavour
    You may be receiving a lot of critical mail from Americans in response to the design of the Flight 93 memorial.

    I though, support the design. The blood red crescent of Islam embracing innocents in death, is a perfect motif for what happened on that fateful day of 9/11.

    It is my belief that it is the artist’s duty to shock society from its pre-conceived notions about ideas and ideologies, whether they be secular or religious. In this age of PC, it is hard for the artist to do so without being accused of insensitivity.

    I wish therefore to express my support for the courageous stand that you have taken.

    Posted by: DP111 at September 9, 2005 02:33 PM
    My name is Albion & I am an Englishman living in, not surprisingly, England.

    I have just had the Flight 93 Memorial Crescent idea explained to me by an American friend over the Net.

    I must say I do very much appreciate the bold, un-PC design. The blood red crescent of Islam clutching the innocents in an embrace of death perfectly mirrors the tragic events of 9/11, as well as fitting the Jihad mentality & Al Qaeda’s literal interpretation of Islam.

    Without being crass, & displaying great historical insight & dignity, you have perfectly encapsulated the grave situation the West, indeed the World, finds itself in from the threat of militant Islam. Such insightful memorial designs are extremely rare in this very politically correct age.

    I am sure that the good, brave people who died that day would appreciate your designs subtle frankness & honesty.
    Good luck & Best regards
    osted by: albion at September 9, 2005 01:48 PM
    I just wanted to let you know how insightful I think the design for the Flight 93 Memorial is.

    It is a bold move on the part of the park service, in this decidedly PC day and age, to choose a design that so clearly indicts Islam for it’s role in 9/11.

    The bloody crescent embracing the final resting place of the victims strongly reminds us all of who the perpetrators of 9/11 were, and what religion they practiced. Bravo for standing up in the face of Politically Correct interests that may have watered-down this indictment of Islam.

    Posted by: DCWatson at September 9, 2005 03:59 PM

    It was fun honing the approach to be used. The whole lot is here.


    I did point out that the initial design was just right. The blood red crescent of islam embracing the innocents, correctly identified the culpabilty of islam for 9/11. So far it was al-Qaeda that was tied to 9/11 and the RoP got a clear bill of health. So, only if we wanted the design to be changed, must we write subversive letters; but only of we really wanted that to happen.

    Finally, whatever the final design, we must do all we can in the Blogosphere, to associate that memorial to the true villain in the events of 9/11.

    Never forget.


  4. BB

    As the designer has agreed to change the design, whatever design is now adopted, as far as the world is concerned, the memorial and 9/11 will be tied to islam and not to al-Qaeda. We must do our best to educate all that islam was the culpable for 9/11.

    If you take your children to the memorial, educate them there, as to who was culpable for the massacres of 9/11. If others overhere, then they will learn too.


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