The C word
September 22, 2005 1:17 AM   Subscribe

Paul Murdoch Architects were recently announced as winners of the Flight 93 memorial. The design was called "Crescent of Embrace". The jury asked that the design team “Consider the interpretation and impact of words within the context of this event. The 'Crescent' should be referred to as the 'circle' or 'arc' or other words that are not tied to specific religious iconography." Remarks from the families can be found here. [I haven't posted the other links for obvious reasons]. I don't think we've heard the end of this.
posted by tellurian (22 comments total)
The Shape....It's Eeeeeeeevil!
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:09 AM on September 22, 2005

Would you like some Freedom Fries with that?
posted by VulcanMike at 5:26 AM on September 22, 2005

The crash must have been on private land... I'd be curious to know who sold/donated the land.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:00 AM on September 22, 2005

I think they could call it: The Flight Freedom Freedom Memorial Freedom, Freedom Freedom. Freedom.
posted by chunking express at 6:17 AM on September 22, 2005

Yet more proof that this country has become one enormous Jerry Springer episode.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:56 AM on September 22, 2005

Okay, let me put it more plainly. This is a design approved and supported by the Flight 93 committee and the families of the victims. The Right starts a campaign to denigrate the design and bring into question the motives of the designers based on the use of the word 'crescent' in their submission. Is that okay with everyone?
posted by tellurian at 7:04 AM on September 22, 2005

Disregarding the meaningless 'controversy', the design renderings are really good.
posted by signal at 7:12 AM on September 22, 2005

Sorry tellurian, but "The Right" is starting a campaign to denigrate the design? Isn't it really a couple of knuckleheads with blogs? And maybe I'm not thinking clearly here, but why would you not post the other links to provide context? The reasons aren't obvious to me.
posted by mania at 7:28 AM on September 22, 2005

I don't see what the big deal is. Let's just call it the "Crucifix of Embrace" and make everyone happy.

Also, the renderings are very nice. They actually rendered the people! I'm amazed they didn't use shoddy, poorly lit photographs of people dropped into the renderings. I always get a better sense of the imagined space if there are stock photographs set at half opacity littering the scene.
posted by iloveit at 8:25 AM on September 22, 2005

Isn't it really a couple of knuckleheads with blogs?
No, it's a campaign, they are attempting to affect the decision of the committee.
"post the other links to provide context? the reasons aren't obvious to me
follow the links.
posted by tellurian at 8:27 AM on September 22, 2005

In certain circles (and in my opinion those circles tend to be found on the lefterly end of the political spectrum) the symbolic power of words is held in very high esteem and it is not infrequent when they suggest that certain words be avoided even though they have no direct derogatory intent. Not because of the intent in using the word, but because of how the word might be interpreted by others.

We all think such things are horribly stupid when we disagree with the offensiveness in question and think it is a logical curtailment when we agree.

Personally, I find it odd that they would have used the word without at least considering that some might be bothered considering that such things tend to be manufactured in an environment of highest empathic concern.

But I also don't really care.
posted by obfusciatrist at 8:33 AM on September 22, 2005

I wouldn't have made an issue of it but I admit I find the use of the word 'crescent' given the context to be an eyebrow-raiser. I don't think suggesting another name is beyond the pale at all.
posted by phearlez at 8:52 AM on September 22, 2005

phearlez, okay "Eyebrow of Embrace" [after the shape of your eyebrow], it is.
posted by tellurian at 9:19 AM on September 22, 2005

Isn't it really a couple of knuckleheads with blogs?

Actually it was United States Senator, Tom Tancredo (R-CO) who got the ball rolling on this one. Lest we forget he was also the asshole who incensed Muslims by suggesting we nuke their holy sites.
posted by ericb at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2005

Designers disappoint me when they don't understand the power of words. Change the words and I believe the whole thing goes away.

Thanks ericb -- as always -- for the added information.
posted by mania at 10:12 AM on September 22, 2005

So the issue here is the use of "crescent" to describe a half-circle? Why? It's a shape, it's a roll from Pillsbury, and yes it is also used as a religious symbol in some places. Fine. But "crescent" doesn't automatically equal "muslim" and even if it did "muslim" doesn't automatically equal "freedom-hating American-murdering terrorist asshole". Anyone who immediately equates crescent with terrorist needs to open his or her mind a bit and learn about the world outside of America's safely patrolled and fenced-in borders.

I'm actually much less comfortable with their use of the phrase "Sacred Ground" rather than "crescent". I think in this age of rabid patriotism, religious fervor and paranoia we've begun to throw terms like this around more than we should. Overuse devalues the phrase. I think in this case using "sacred ground" is just one more step in enabling the American feeling of victimization, persecution and self-righteousness. Our brave God-blessed citizens vs. the godless terrorists.

I'm not saying that we should forget about the people on flight 93, and I'm not saying that their actions only merit a roadside plaque - but I do think immediately evoking the idea of God Almighty personally declaring the ground they died on to be hallowed for all eternity is a bit much. We do not immediately do the same for every person who willingly risks his or her life to save another every day in this country.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:45 AM on September 22, 2005

tellurian - Personally I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it but I'm just saying that in the context of a violent attack by muslim extermists when I hear the word 'crescent' I think of the quarter-moon and star. That doesn't work me into a froth but if a pseudo-leftie like me gets that mental image I think it's not unreasonable to think some other people a little closer to the incident might have more unpleasant reactions.

I'm a big believer in "get the fuck over it" and if we were talking about someone protesting "Crescent Cola" I'd be the first to mock them. What we're talking about in this case isn't some unrelated thing but a memorial... the whole point of which is to be evocative and make people think of things. If it makes them think of things that are irrelevant or evokes an unpleasant and contrary association than I think that's a problem.
posted by phearlez at 11:18 AM on September 22, 2005

I feel bad for the architects and designers of the memorial. This is the same idiocy with which Maya Lin had to deal when she designed the Vietnam War Memorial--it's a familiar pattern; hopefully after all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, the design will remain the same and the people protesting the crescent will all be politely told to fuck off.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:45 AM on September 22, 2005

I think that, whether intended or not, the word "crescent" could actually provoke another level of thoughtfulness from people attending the memorial. It is true that the people carrying out the attacks were Islamic fundamentalists, but that doesn't mean that Islam itself should be made the enemy. Perhaps the beauty and peace of the memorial can help people begin to think about what it would be like for the west to reconcile with the Islamic world - which, in the end, would bring the only possible end to this kind of terrorism.

I say this as an atheist. I'm not someone who will defend Islam in its totality, but I do think that it's unfortunate that the religion itself is demonized because of the actions of some of its followers.
posted by mai at 2:37 PM on September 22, 2005

I don't understand why this massive memorial is needed at all. Yes, I know it was a terrible plane crash and a couple of hundred people died. But the space itself had no meaning prior to the crash, and afaik it's not near anything else. A plaque or a plinth would have been enough in my mind. Am I the only one who feels that way?
posted by cell divide at 3:40 PM on September 22, 2005

I don't understand why this massive memorial is needed at all.

I suspect that the families of those who died find solace in a monument being erected -- particularly as it is directly related to the demise of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which have/will have memorials dedicated to those lost there. In those instances where bodies were not recovered (BTW - is this the case with Flight 93, or were remains accounted for passengers and crew?) a memorial is a fitting marker.
posted by ericb at 4:24 PM on September 22, 2005

Isn't it really a couple of knuckleheads with blogs?

...and knuckleheads with nationally syndicated columns. Thanks to La Malkin, my hometown -- which otherwise would have remained quite ignorant of the dyspeptic rumblings of the "blogosphere" -- was treated to the full-on "I've got a smiling picture and a fascist attitude" treatment. Tancredo was the first public official to acknowledge it, but his prior comments already put him in wingnut territory.
posted by dhartung at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2005

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