Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lower West Side Story

It began on a Tuesday in September, as the warmth of an autumn sun, rising in an azure sky, tempered the chill of the crisp morning air. It was just before 9:00 am when the daily routines of the lower west side New Yorker were disrupted by the over head roar of an unusually low flying commercial airliner. Looking towards the cloudless sky, pedestrians paused to shade their eyes from the sun's rays, and followed the projectile path of the plane as it crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Any speculation of the incident being an accident was proven incorrect when a second airliner hit the south tower fifteen minutes later.

America was under attack by a squadron of al-Qaeda suicide terrorists who had hijacked the 2 commercial airliners. Less than an hour from the moments of impact, both buildings collapsed, killing all those on board the planes, many of those who were called to aid, and those unable to escape the containment within the buildings by the functions of their morning rituals.

The day would be forever immortalized as 9/11 and the grounds left in the carnage sacredly decreed. In the final tally, 90 countries lost citizens of varying cultures, ethnicity, religion and sex. Over 9 years have elapsed since the morning of that human tragedy, and many are still haunted by the memories of the day, with untold experiences that are still sounding in the consciousness of their daily lives.

It woulds seem impossible to imagine what it would be like speaking by phone to a loved one trapped inside the burning building, while watching at home on television, and witnessing the smoke billowing from the top floors of the towers like that from a factory smokestack. It would seem impossible to imagine the sensation, as the phone connection suddenly goes dead, and the television image shows the buildings toppling to the ground in a cloud of murky dust that scatters across lower Manhattan.

The anniversaries of 9/11 serve a silent unity with those personally affected; a unity we as on lookers will never understand. We can only acknowledge these tragedies as those shared by wives and husbands, parents and children, men and woman, blacks and whites, Christians and Jews, Hindus and Muslims. Like the populist of the lower west side, the victims of 9/11 were multinational, of different backgrounds and ideals, both secular and monastic. It would be disingenuous for America to show respect only for the suffering individuals who wear the same cloth as is weaved in our own robes.

Many have disgraced the sanctity of 9/11 by showcasing the event for political agendas; none as dispassionately as Carl Paladino. In his hopes to inspire voters, he declared by emphatic statement that a mosque or Islamic center should not be allowed to be located near where- "the dust that carried human remains was located around ground zero."

His statement suggests that the building to be renovated for the project, which lies 2 blocks from the site where the nearly 3000 innocent perished- 70 of which were followers of the Islamic faith- should not be allowed to progress. It's hard to believe that a man wanting to govern the people of New York- whose heritage is as mixed in cultures as that of the lower west side- would disapprove of a center to be constructed for the benefit of his contingency.

As stated in an earlier post, America should be seen like that of the one portrayed in the vision of former President Ronald Reagan. Like the lower west side of Manhattan, America should be seen as- "a shining city on a hill...teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace."

We as a society of sensible people understand the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists were responsible for the events of 9/11. Their actions were supported by the Taliban, and not by all religions of Islam observing Sunnah. The terrorist's agenda does not represent an accepted jihadi against Christian values by all sects of the Muslim faith. To accept this thinking would be like accepting the belief that the Klu Klux Klan represent all Christian's acceptance of white supremacy and their adversity towards all other ethnicity. It would be like saying West Side Story symbolized the Jets representation of all white Anglo Saxons ideals, and the Sharks represented the values of all Latino immigrants.

Candidates like Carl Paladino should not be elected to serve a people wanting to live in harmony and peace. His claim to take over the Islamic center by eminent domain- if elected Governor of New York- is not well thought out, but neither is most of the rhetoric provided by the many members of the mid term Tea Party candidates. There is no Bernstein orchestral arrangement, or Sondheim lyric that could enhance the message of these mid term candidates, because their words often resonate without substance: there is simply nothing to enhance.

We as a people need to stop the hate rhetoric; stop the avocation against progressive thoughts and ideals; stop the stagnation by formulating new achievements in the enhancement of our citizens minds, spirits, and lives. We must- as a society-
inspire to make America the Republic a utopia radiating with enlightenment and promise. A new social order will emerge from the ashes of 9/11, and an existence will prevail on the lower west side of New York: "teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace."

Tonight; tonight.
The world was full of light.
With suns and moons all over the place.
Tonight; tonight.
The world was wild and bright-
Going mad, shooting sparks into space.
Today, the world was just an address,
A place for me to live in,
No better than alright.
But, here you are, and what was just a world is a star.

Stephen Sondheim

1 comment:

  1. Well you know, I base alot of my cultural identity on the beliefs of the Jets, plus they danced far better.
    Seriously, I appreciate the points of your message, and realizing the history of the mosque debate, which wasn't even a debate until Tea Partiers and more recent pundits grabbed on to it, I think you are more than fair and balanced. The people of NY don't mind it.

    I really believe that when stuff like this is blown out of proportion, it's done with the intent of detracting public opinion from the really scary stuff they want covered up. I've said that before, and I don't mean to go all Oliver Stone on it, but I think there are too many corporate and political forces that try and sway the public via distraction (sleight of hand) rather than outright public assertions.

    Am reading a book called The Financial Lives of Poets that has some priceless funny (i.e. poignant too) remarks about Red State vs. Blue State opinions of anyone with Middle Eastern background. It points out the stupid stereotypes so well.