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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 12, 2005 03:25 PM

Did you watch the Discovery Channel documentary last night on Flight 93?

Did you weep and curse and cheer?

And do you wonder how this memorial design–benignly passive at best, offensive and inexplicably clueless at worst–possibly passed muster as the best representation of the spirit, courage, and resilience of the 40 passengers who saved countless American lives?

Is this the best we can do?

Sissy Willis and Dean Esmay, both conservative bloggers I like and link to regularly, dissent from those who are troubled by the “Crescent of Embrace.” Do read their critiques. Sissy Willis thinks the issue can be resolved with a name change. Dean Esmay dismisses the controversy as a “kerfuffle.” Both describe critics, myself included, as “shrill.”

Go back and read my initial post on the subject. Read Tom Bevan’s at Real Clear Politics. Tell me what is “shrill” about politely, but directly, questioning the design and soliciting others’ input–and then coming to the clarion (a synonym for…shrill) conclusion that whatever the intentions of the architects were, the proposed memorial simply does not do the heroes of Flight 93 justice.

Wretchard at The Belmont Club, eloquent as always, observes:

[M]emorials are what we perceive them to be; they rarely have an intrinsic value. They “remind” us of things, and it so happened that a design which was probably innocently conceived triggered certain unfortunate associations. Symbols are powerful and dangerous to the unwitting. During the Stalin era, one man was sent to the Gulag because he hung his hat over Stalin’s picture. It didn’t matter that he was blind. It was the symbolism of his act that counted then. Perhaps years from today no will object to Red Crescents displayed in conjunction with the victims of September 11, just as someday people may remember that Swastikas were widely employed as ancient religious symbols. One day, but probably not in 2005.


FYI, the memorial is being funded with both public and private money, including
a $500,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments, chaired by Teresa Heinz.


Scott Ott spoofs.

A sample of reader e-mails:

It’s funny, because no matter how you slice it, the red crescent makes no sense here! I mean, you could turn this around 180 degrees, and say that the architect is _blaming all Islam_ for Flight 93 – after all, the red crescent could be seen as “sinisterly enveloping” the site “in blood”. Not to say I think
that – the architect is probably just a loopy lefty. But the point is, a religious symbol of this nature is too easy to misinterpret. It would be like painting a cross on top of a picture of Nuremberg – does it mean “Christians sympathize” or “Christians did this”?

God preserve us from idiots with government grants.

Alvaro Fernandez
Vicksburg, MS

It is clear the design of the Flight 93 memorial is state sanctioned religion. The Red Crescent is a universally recognized religious symbol and as such violates separation of church and state. Someone needs to call the ACLU and have them file suit. They only need to take one of their old cases and replace cross with red crescent. This should be a slam dunk for them.

Paul Schulte
Gilbert, AZ

[Ed. note: Heh.]

[Ed. note: Sample of letters sent to architect Paul Murdoch, who is unavailable for comment until Sept. 19, according to his office.]

Mr. Murdoch,

A crescent? If it were for anything else, it could easily be considered a simple, aesthetic and appealing design. But I’m not quite ready to express any enthusiasm because I’m not so sure the primary symbol of Islam is appropriate here. I would like to ask, was this a consideration in your design or in its selection at all? How many of those on the panel that selected your design were aware of its uncanny resemblance to (or the irony of) the Muslim crescent?

I suppose even more curious was your stated idea for the crescent as being ‘a gesture of healing and bonding’. I truly hope that this language is not couching another politically correct sermon on religious tolerance, nor any imaginary cultural/religious reconciliation with fanatical Islam, nor the equally disturbing yet phony lie of Muslim solidarity with the victims of Flight 93, or Americans in general.

I would kindly ask for clarification on your statement of using this crescent as ‘a gesture of healing and bonding’, and whether or not your intentions mirror any of the above. Either way, I believe the families of the victims of Flight 93, and those footing the bill for this memorial, have a right to know.

Best regards,
Chris Weil

Dear Paul,

As gently as I possibly can, let me express my profound shock at your design for the Flight 93 Memorial. Please understand that the apparent coincidence of your design, with the Islamic Crescent is simply going to be too much for the American people to accept.

We are not anti-Islamic, and whether or not this symbol is what you had in mind when you put together this design, is entirely beside the point. Because of how it will be perceived, the design will simply never, ever be acceptable to us.

The heroic actions of the people on that flight will become, and perhaps already have become mythical. Those passengers stopped fanatically religious radical Islamists from destroying one or another of the great foundational institutions of our free society, and of killing more people on the ground. In doing what they did, they collectively sacrificed their lives for us, and for what we cherish as a people.

We will never know the full details of the story, but we do know enough of that sad and wonderful tale, for it to live forever in our minds. Our children will tell their children, and theirs will tell theirs, for generations to come. They were just citizens, those folks . . . not soldiers or sailors . . . they did not volunteer, nor were they ever asked for any sacrifice, or impressed into this duty they undertook. But undertake it they did. They rose to the occasion, my friend, in a manner, and with a courage that strikes the rest of us speechless. Tears, mixed with some anger, but bursting with an immense pride, well up in the eyes of Americans everywhere, each time our thoughts turn to what they did for us.

So, perhaps you can understand why we simply cannot accept the ground zero location of their sacrifice, to nevertheless be forever stamped with an unmistakable symbol of Islam, one recognized throughout the world. It was no doubt a familiar symbol, perhaps one embraced by the vile, fanatical destroyers who came at us that day, and who hijacked that plane to do their horrible deed. As such, it would become the central, indelible characteristic of the memorial, and would inevitably be seen by many as a mockery or belittling of the sacrifices on Flight 93, and of all of us who cherish the actions of those who said, “Let’s roll,” that day, just four years ago.

Please, please withdraw this design, and save us all the harsh struggle that will inevitable ensue from its pursuit.

Steve Robbins

The picture, from this aspect, also suggests the old Soviet sickle, minus the hammer. Pretty unfortunate design, at least.

John Fleming

First, I agree the crescent is an inappropriate shape for the memorial. The shape is a religious symbol for islam and even though we aren’t fighting a holy war on behalf of Christianity in the War on Terror the terrorists who hijacked flight 93 and who continue to fight us today are fighting a holy war on behalf of
Islam. So the crescent symbol is inappropriate because it threatens to memorialize the terrorists who lost on flight 93 rather than the Americans who
sacrificed themselves while achieving a victory.

Second, the official description touts the winning design as having a theme of healing. The time for healing is after we have won the War on Terror. Until
we’ve won we have to maintain a fighting anger. We can heal when the last Islamist enters the gates of hell.

Third, “Disturbed Harmony” is a more appropriate entry and should be the winner. Its themes of bravery and heroism are better suited to the flight 93 memorial. We should push that entry as an alternative.

Dave Rankin

I had intended to support the Flight 93 memorial, but will be withholding my donation in protest.

I am writing to object to the Flight 93 memorial, “Crescent of Embrace”.

It is clear to me that the architectural team that designed the memorial had as a central theme a crescent (hence the title of the memorial). The crescent is also a prominent image and central to the Islamic faith.

If the architects who designed this memorial deny the relationship, or say that it is a mere coincidence, then they are being less than truthful. It is my understanding that concerns were raised about the imagery early in the judging process. Public concerns, such as mine, were anticipated.

At this point, if the park service or the designers deny the obvious link to the Islamic faith, they are being disingenuous, or worse, taking the general public as fools. Are we being tested, to see if we have the right degree of tolerance, or sensitivity?

In our hypersensitive, no offense, tolerance at all cost society that we are trying to achieve, please, this one time, be sensitive and tolerant to those that were attacked and killed on September 11th.

It is our turn to be respected.

Patrick Hunter, MD

Posted in: Flight 93

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Categories: Flight 93