Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Insensitive and Audacious - Publishing and Peril at Ground Zero

This image from google maps is every bit as horrifying as you dread it could be, or wish to portray it, or prefer that others will believe it to be, or hope hair-trigger racist voters will decide it is.

The map shows New York City, and in particular, lower Manhattan and environs, and in greater particular, the most vaunted land mass of them all, the one where self-convinced religious fanatics vented their stupid rage at the symbolism of a building. How incredibly asinine and vicious, am I right?

Here's the horrifying part: the numerous red dots represent publishers, and if only because of the sheer number of them -- New York city being a seat of publishing for the entire world -- it stands to reason, indeed I would call it a matter of arithmetic inevitability, that some of the materials published by some of these dizzyingly-close-to-Ground-Zero publishers are Muslim. Some might be non- but nevertheless pro-Muslim, and one or more might be engaged in printing the Koran itself. Even if not that, it would seem to be a dead certainty that some of the content published in these spots takes no position on Islamist extremism, devoting not even a few words to reminding people that Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Mullah Omar Attacked Us For Our Freedom.

This being so, or plausibly so, how dare they! As TV's Sarah Palin said:
“This is a place which is 600 feet from where almost 3,000 people were torn to pieces by Islamic extremists. I think that it is incredibly insensitive and audacious really for them to build a mosque, not only on that site, but to do it specifically so that they could be in proximity to where that atrocity happened.”
I bring up publishing because the 9/11 attackers and Tim McVeigh demonstrated that buildings are temporary -- they come and go, rise and fall, burn and collapse -- whereas Salman Rushdie's novels, Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs, and the Danish cartoons demonstrate that published works are forever.

As vessels of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, offensive symbolism go, buildings die easily, but written words endure. Locating so many pro-Islamist publishers within steps of Ground Zero is a study in audacious insensitivity and insensitive audacity.

What kind of society would we be if we allowed such affronts to our quiet dignity?

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