Tuesday, March 14, 2006

9/11 Ownership

I work just across the street from Ground Zero. Every day I have to basically walk around the site to get to the office, since the PATH train dumps riders off on the East end of the site, and I work in a building on the Hudson shore, West of the site.

The news these last few days has been full of stories about the beginning of the official 9/11 memorial construction, and the fact that a coalition of family members of victims is protesting and suing to stop the work. Their issues seem to stem mostly from the fact that the memorial will be below street level and that its construction will harm the integrity of the site and of the two towers' original footprints.

Two questions. First, what, exactly, are they suing over? None of the articles I've read have made it clear what legal argument they are making, but just reiterated their gripes with the plans overall. One can smell the immateriality of the actual argument from the articles--this isn't about a legal issue, or a matter of the city or the builders breaking laws, but simply that the protestors, these particular family members don't like the plan. Which, to me, is odd.

Second. Is it just me, or is it a little odd that these family members assume so much power and righteousness over the issue? The enormity of 9/11 and it's unique historical stature make the emotions big and raw, sure, but nonetheless--isn't it strange for a victim's family, even the family of the the victims of terrorist attacks, to expect to have a say over what is done with the lace where the attack occurred? If arsonists burned down a church and killed my mother while she was there praying, I don't see how that gives me the right to dictate what is done with the land the church was on. Isn't this, in materiality, the same thing? It's a hard thing to talk about, because there is such respect for what the 9/11 victims' families have gone through but now, especially now four and a half years later, aren't their demands starting to seem . . . unseemly?

Until Whenever


Roger Owen Green said...

what you are suggesting is the de-deification of these families. I agree with you, but the country got so crazy after that date that no one can back off without appearing insensitive.

Tosy And Cosh said...

That's exactly the sense I get. And I empathize with it - I hesitated to write this post for fear of coming across as horribly insensitive.