The Real Problem

Better pens than mine — well, more popular pens at least — have noted that Muslims regularly worship in the Pentagon, mere meters from the site of the impact that destroyed one side of the gigantic building. And, my Google Maps notes the presence of about 5 mosques within a quick drive of the Pentagon (none of them are around the corner from the building, but that’s a function of the industrial nature of Pentagon City). And yet we’re risking a crisis of faith over a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero? Why?

Probably, partially because Ground Zero still looks like this (looking west from Battery Park City):

And the Financial District skyline from 45 floors up, as a result, still looks like this:

Very pretty. But, even though I’d only ever been to New York once before 9/11/01, I know that, properly, almost none of the right side of this picture should be visible. It should be blocked by a massive pair of buildings, towering over, and visible from, the rest of the city.

This is a small island. The absence is palpable. Whereas Washington, D.C., was helped back to normalcy by the prompt (and necessary) reconstruction of the entire Pentagon, for most New Yorkers (save recent reverse-carpetbaggers, like me), a common presence remains missing. How are wounds ever to heal, when the city itself remains scarred?

Granted, the best among us should be able to look past sorrow, no matter how close it hit home, and despise the perpetrators of this disaster without hating those who happen to share a religion, but not an ideology, with them. For those still troubled by the ghosts of the past, though, healing the physical form of our city might be a step in the right direction.

The first towers were built in six years. It remains an embarrassment of the highest order that we’ve done almost nothing to replace them. And until we do, we’ll suffer for the constant reminder of their absence, with all the ill effects it entails.



  1. What makes you a “reverse” carpetbagger? Your septentrional trajectory?

    1. Oooh, good word. I’d have gone with “boreal”, though.

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