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9/12: America’s monumental shame

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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 12, 2010 11:13 AM

It took just 410 days to build the quarter-mile-high, 102-story Empire State Building.

It took just 33 months to build Oriole Park at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.

It took just 2 years to build Qwest Field for the Seattle Seahawks.

It took just three years to build the old, 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago.

It took just 66 days — several months ahead of schedule — to rebuild two major Santa Monica Freeway bridges in the heart of Los Angeles that were decimated by the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Nine years and one day after the September 11 terrorist attacks, this is what we have to show for the heroes and innocents who died at Ground Zero:

Ground has been broken. A few surrounding buildings and a little placeholder replica of the Freedom Tower have been erected. Ceremonial beams of light have been displayed where the Twin Towers once loomed.

But as the Bergen (NJ) Record put it: “We are supposed to be pleased that One World Trade Center is rising, that work on that national Sept. 11 memorial is well under way, as is the transportation hub and one of three additional commercial towers. And we are pleased that these projects are moving along. But it has been nine years. Nine years and nothing is completed.”

Let me repeat that: Nine years and nothing is completed.

Steve Cuozzo at the NYPost identifies the villains of delay:

The chief culprits of the go-slow were the Port Authority and then-Gov. George Pataki — whose absent leadership, absurd design directives and destructive meddling are ancient history to site-watchers.

Until Ward’s arrival in 2007, the agency’s six-year delay in excavating the site’s eastern side was entirely to blame for Larry Silverstein’s inability to build.

But there were many enablers of the PA’s dereliction and of Pataki’s fecklessness. In the aftermath of 9/11, many leading business advocates sounded willing to cede Downtown planning to Mohamed Atta. Even New York City Partnership head Kathryn Wylde unfathomably argued that Downtown’s commercial-center days were over before 9/11 (despite all-time low vacancy as of Sept. 10, 2001) — so why bother rebuilding offices?

The let’s-go-slow crowd included the think tanks like the Regional Plan Association, for whom no rebuilding would do without a utopian fantasy of parks and transit amenities.

Mayor Bloomberg (who’s since bravely changed his tune) undermined Silverstein and Downtown. He assailed the developer for asking proper rents for his new 7 WTC, neglected horrendous street conditions and proposed a “vision” for the area that included everything but new offices.

Rudy Giuliani, a great mayor (and great wartime mayor), lent the obstructionists a patina of moral authority by absurdly advocating to make a memorial of the whole 16-acre site.

Nervous real-estate developers, fearing competition, lobbied behind the scenes to delay reconstruction. Only one had a very public instrument of propaganda: Boston Properties Chairman Mort Zuckerman, who is also publisher of the Daily News.

Zuckerman never got over Boston’s early 2001 loss in a bidding war for the Twin Towers to Silverstein…

…The New York Times, meanwhile, made such a stink over preliminary reconstruction plans in 2002 that it cowed Pataki into yanking them for a time-consuming design competition. That set everything back a year and yielded Daniel Libeskind’s unworkable master site plan — which had to be revised again and again.

But the source of America’s monumental shame goes much deeper than turf wars, bureaucratic delays, and regulatory obstacles. America had no shared sense of urgency, no will, no ineluctable drive to build a great and proper tribute to the 9/11 fallen as quickly as possible. Government and business leaders failed. Miserably.

That abject failure was exacerbated by a culture of capitulation and dhimmitude reflected in appalling battles over 9/11 monuments not only at Ground Zero, but in Shanksville, Pa., and Arizona.

Let me give you some infuriating reminders.

Before the Ground Zero mosque controversy, 9/11 families had to battle NYC elites and left-wing George Soros radicals in 2005 to stop the 9/11 memorial from becoming a progressive human rights playground. The planners — whose board included prominent Gitmo opponents and transnationalists — proposed a moral equivalence museum dedicating 300,000 square feet to a “history of freedom” while sparing only 50,000 square feet to the actual memory of the 9/11 victims. Only after a grass-roots and blogosphere campaign called “Take Back the Memorial” broke through did the politicians scrap the plans.

Before the Ground Zero mosque controversy, 9/11 families had to battle far Left architects and do-gooders in 2005 who sought to convert the Flight 93 memorial at Shanksville, Pa., into a New Age, wind chime-filled field wrapped in a red crescent of embrace.

Before the Ground Zero mosque controversy, Arizonans battled anti-war zealots in 2006 — supported by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano — who turned the state’s 9/11 memorial into a Blame America complex. Some of the commissioners actually wanted to add 19 more characters to represent the deaths of the 19 terrorist murderers who killed the victims. These are actual photos of the memorial:

arizmem.jpg

azmemtwo.jpg

azmemthree.jpg

America can build sports palaces and skyscrapers in record time. We have the brightest engineers and architects, the best-equipped builders and manufacturers, the most generous private entrepreneurs and philanthropists. And yet America has failed to build a single, soaring monument that matches the heroism, greatness, sacrifice, and spirit of freedom that a 9/11 memorial should represent.

Nine years and one day after 2,977 innocent men, women, and children gave their lives, nothing is completed. This is a national disgrace. It’s time to stop burning and unite behind building. Jihadists destroy. America creates.

Where is the urgency, dedication, speed, strength, and clarity to show them how we roll?

If “never forget” is our post-9/11 mantra, why the hell is it taking so long to build fields and halls and museums of remembrance unsullied by political correctness and anti-American pandering?

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