In light of today's construction update, I'm going to post something that's been on my mind for awhile. Even though I've been in NY City many times since 9/11, last week was the first instance I visited Ground Zero since the attacks. I'm working close to the courts downtown and my office is basically a block away. While delivering some papers, I decided to walk back a little out of the way and pass by the site. Maybe I've just missed the boat and this is common knowledge, but there's a giant metal cross left in the rubble made out of construction I-beams.
When I saw it, frankly I was shocked. I couldn't believe that such a blatant Christian symbol was left in the aftermath of September 11th. A quick perusal of the list of victims of the attack makes it clear that many Jewish (and probably Muslim and Hindu) people died that day. I thought the crucifix sent the really unfair message that people of only one faith suffered that day. Talk about discrimination against people of faith.
Furthermore, I think the maintenance of this symbol in such a controversial place also imparts that America does regard the attacks of September 11th as a clash of civilizations. Whether or not you believe the theories of Bush and his Defense Department cronies, leaving a crucifix at Ground Zero basically says "it's the Christians versus the terrorists," which is ridiculous because I'm sure there at least some non-Christian Americans who buy into the clash of civilization theory.
I just want to close this with a quote from Justice O'Conner taken from a NYT article:
Justice O'Connor said the country had worked well, when compared with nations gripped by religious violence, by keeping religion "a matter for the individual conscience, not for the prosecutor or bureaucrat." She added: "Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"
I do realize that the WTC is private property and the government isn't responsible for this affront, but I still think this example epitomizes the publicity of religion, particularly Christianity, that is having seriously harmful consequences on the fabric of contemporary American society. Religion used to be a private affair that would unite people in quiet worship. Today, it's become a political tool which is only polarizing the country more by the day.