The Post-American Skyscraper

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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In the days and weeks after September 11 hardly a day would go by without another homemade design for the World Trade Center showing up in my inbox. Some were crude, some were obscene, some were impossible to construct and some were genuinely visionary. Even those most familiar with the crusted workings of New York state and city government, not to mention the bi-state beast of the Port Authority, could hardly have imagined that eleven years later one far smaller tower would still be under construction.

One World Trade Center, formerly the Freedom Tower before that name was deemed too showy and patriotic, is a faintly shiny presence on the skyline, glass slowly sliding over stories of naked steel, overshadowed by Frank Gehry’s strikingly surreal Beekman Tower with its rippling lines. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you would hardly notice it was there.

Now One World Trade Center will lose a radome enclosure due to budget cuts, which means very little except that the building’s ridiculous 400 foot spire risks being classified as an antenna and OWTC will no longer be recognized as the tallest building in the country. The death of the radome is one of the many redesigns to the building that have made it the forgettable structure that it is today. And the difference in those 400 feet is the difference between a 1,368 foot skyscraper and a 1,776 foot skyscraper.

Having lost the Freedom Tower designation, losing the symbolic 1,776 height seems almost an afterthought. The 1,776 number was an artifact of Daniel Libeskind, the original architect, and his vision for the site. That vision was mostly discarded, along with its “sky gardens” and windmills. The “1,776″ height is about all that remains of the German-Jewish architect’s proposal. And regardless of whether we count the antenna as a spire or not, it will not be the tallest building in the world. Those can be found in the places that funded the terrorists, Saudi Arabia and Dubai, which have used slave labor to build glass and steel pyramids to the glory of their own pharaohs.

The Empire State Building, the Grande Dame of New York skyscrapers, has a roof height of around a 100 feet or 30 meters lower. The difference between a skyscraper built during the Great Depression and one built during the 21st Century Depression is around 100 feet and about a century of aesthetics. Where the spire of the Empire State Building is an organic extension of it, the one atop OWTC is awkwardly placed, it’s just there making time and filling up the space.

In its defense, One World Trade Center is graceful enough compared to the Sears Tower or the Dubai Burj, which pile blocks and needles together in a cluster of alien geometry. It will be better looking than the New York Times Building and the Bank of America Tower, which both have that made- by-IKEA look. It will also be completely unremarkable and that is a feature, not a bug.

Its blandness of name and design convey that it is an apolitical structure. Its only ambition is to embody a post-American bigness made possible by a large antenna. Its unexceptional nature is an antidote to the American exceptionalism sparked after the September 11 massacre. Much like welcoming in a mosque near Ground Zero or incorporating Islamic elements into the Flight 93 Memorial, it says that there is nothing especially American here.

One World Trade Center will need to fill all that office space, and many international renters may do business in America, but they don’t like us very much. And ever since September 11, American political and business leaders have tried to be as inoffensive as possible, to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes with our jingoism and our flags so that next time we don’t get bombed.

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  • truebearing

    That was eloquently saddening, and angering. If Bloomberg, Obama, and the rest of the leaders responsible for our post-9/11 malaise were out of the way, we could reinvigorate this nation, but there is a massive international effort to keep us down, and we have leaders who are more loyal to our enemies than to us.

    We have a prescription for that very behavior in our constitution. We need to follow it. And we need to water that Tree of Liberty. I believe Thomas Jefferson left us directions on how to water it.

    • Danny

      Oh Truebearing oh great one, please share with us those directions.
      And lead us on to glory.
      And let us know when we can expect you to appear on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.

      • Looking4Sanity

        "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." – John Stuart Mill

        “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams

        • Danny

          While we're on the subject of John Stuart Mill quotes, here's another one you may not be familiar with:

          "Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives."

          I'll be looking forward to your reports from the front. That is, if you can extricate yourself long enough from the laptop in your parents' basement.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            He wouldn't be familiar with it because it's not an actual John Stuart Mill quote, but a distorted version.

          • RoguePatriot6

            You mean, some troll got something that was noble and wise, then out of an appetite for perversion and corruption, twisted it into something else? Say it ain't so.

            And by the way, Danny boy, I've met more leftists than anybody else, who would have to wise up just to reach the level of idiot.

          • truebearing

            Imagine that. Distortion from Danny. Clearly he feels he can't win any other way, and he's right.

          • Danny

            The non-distorted version:

            "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

            John Stuart Mill, in a letter to the Conservative MP, John Pakington (March 1866).

            Big difference, right?

          • truebearing

            Clearly you don't understand the historical context, but no one is surprised. What you don't distort with your inherent dishonesty, you bungle with your paltry intellect.

          • Looking4Sanity

            Taken in context, I'm sure Mill was referring to miserly people of his own day and not the contemporary meaning of “conservative”…but thanks for playing and enjoy licking the boot heels of your socialist utopian masterminds. I'm sure you'll make some Commie a wonderful lap dog.

      • truebearing

        Oh Danny oh ankle biting one, you aren't worthy to share such wisdom. Obama's FBI will have 10 million most wanted if we don't run his worthless ass out of office, and goose steppers like yourself would have no problem with that.

        Do you get belly-burn slithering around like that, or do you have scales?

        • Danny

          Key point here is that the 10 million or whatever the number is definitely won't include you, coward.

          Prove me wrong.

          • truebearing

            You seem to be contradicting yourself, deluded one.

            Let me set you straight (there is a first time for everything): I don't have to prove anything to you or your ankle biting ilk. You are an impotent little malcontent who is filled with rage at the disparity between your ego and accomplishments, so you spend your time making pathetic attempts at wit, or trying to annoy people. Soros pays you in Happy Meals and cheap wine to harass your superiors, and this is all you have. You spend your limited time on earth impersonating a hemmorhoid.

          • Danny

            Got to you on that last one, didn't I?

          • Danny

            Gotta go, meeting Soros for lunch at MacDs.

    • mlcblog

      Water the Tree of LIberty? I want to hear about this.

      • truebearing

        Mix 3 parts blood of tyrants, one part blood of patriots. (the formula varies according to how long the patriots procrastinate).

  • Chezwick

    GREENFIELD: "The slow pace, the perpetual redesigns and the bland final product of One World Trade Center make the opposite statement. A reminder that inept and timid leadership can rob a nation of its exceptionalism."

    Let us include – along with "inept and timid leadership" – an ingrained culture of excessive regulation and litigation…that "can rob a nation of its exceptionalism".

    • PhillipGaley

      Somewhere in the OT, there's a verse which says that, when His people get off track and refuse correction, wisdom will laugh at their calamity, . . . and, this NYC sort of a re-build thing, . . . is tragically comedic, . . . thank G0D for Oklahoma, . . .

      • Looking4Sanity

        The same theme re-occurs in the New Testament as well. I direct your attention to

        2 Thessalonians, chapter 2

        11: And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
        12: That they all might be dam-ned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

        If God chastises those whom He loves (He calls it "instruction" or "correction" or "chastisement"), what do you think He does to those NOT in His good graces? Look around. The answer is virtually everywhere.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      That is the source of the culture. It's ingrained through rent seeking institutions enacted for their power and profit.

  • H&R_ Barack

    Hey! New York, NY – Get over yourself! Sinatra has assumed room temp.

    Conservatives may hate McCain; But THIS video Typifies Downtown New York…….

    (see) Liberal Outrage: A Pro-McCain March In Manhattan 2008
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQalRPQ8stI

    ~ May your Manhattan marxist residents fly in ever-decreasing concentric circles………

    • Daniel Greenfield

      New York or California is more than the sum of its radicals.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Hopefully the building will have some utility but the impression I am getting here is that the tower is
    only missing very large, well lit and rotating letters for the World to see……….RIP…………..William

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Its use will be as a giant office building. I'm not sure how long it will take them to hit 70 percent occupancy though.

  • Schlomotion

    Waaaa. Instead of a being a tall pointy building owned by a Jewish guy and designed by a Jewish guy and sticking up in the air harder and higher than one owned by a Muslim guy, it's just going to be a boring building owned by a Jewish guy. This signals the Post-American Era.

    • al222

      Actually you and your consistently inane comments, which always manage to include an anti-Semitic swipe coupled with an infantile sense of self-aggrandizement, are the personification of the post-American era

      • Looking4Sanity

        That is the most prescient and astute observation I think I have seen all month! God bless you!

      • Schlomotion

        What is a post-American era without personification?

        • truebearing

          So your idea of a retort is to prove him right? Brilliant.

    • RoguePatriot6

      And here we have it. The New Millenium Hitler strikes again. Did some Jewish dude run off with your girlfriend or something? Or did one beat you up for your lunch money. LOL!!!!

      Why not just change your blog name to a Swatstika?

      • Schlomotion

        I dunno. That sounds a little too pro-police for me.

      • moshe

        I expect that the reason Schlomotion keeps spouting antisemitic drivel is the same reason Trotsky did — he hates his own people and he hates himself. Isn't that right, Shlomo?

        • Schlomotion

          What? Are you projecting Lev Bronstein on me? He's one of your guys.

    • Ghostwriter

      Schlockmotion,when are you ever going to get it? Jews aren't enemies of America. Israelis aren't enemies of America. People like you and UBL are enemies of America,with your inane and most recently infantile bit of anti-Jewish garbage.

      • Schlomotion

        I don't think Jews are the enemies of America. I don't know where you got that crazy idea from.

        • Ghostwriter

          Well,your constant posts bashing Jews and Israelis simply for wanting to exist on this planet. You also blame them for all the problems on the planet. I've never heard of one Israeli that wants to murder Americans in cold blood. Your beloved Palestinians on the other hand,shout it from the rooftops!!

          • Schlomotion

            You know I don't bash Jews in general and certainly not simply for existing. You know that I specifically bash Hasbara Zionists, and I rarely if ever endorse Palestinians. It's plain that you can't really answer that kind of opponent, so you keep trying to make me into the other kind. You don't have the toolkit for dealing with true criticism.

  • Steve

    It is unfortunate that the Powers That Be in New York and America (for that matter) did not have the vision, the resolve, the guts to rebuild the Twin Towers exactly as they stood before 9/11. That would have been my decision. That, too, would have sent a message to the Muslims that the Twin Towers "went down at your hand but they will rise up again at our hand." But alas, methinks America is going the way of ancient Rome. So, so sad.

    • pagegl

      Nowadays the "Powers That Be", not only in New York, but also in DC and almost every major ciy in this country have smal minds.

    • Rifleman

      My thoughts, almost exactly. I'd make it at least 10 stories taller, to accomodate the PA radar panels, VLS, and RAM launchers.

      "Knock us down, and we just come back bigger and badder."

    • Oleg

      Other then the twin towers being of a poor structural design, not to mention an uninspiring esthetic design, it would have sent a message of defiance against the Islamo Facists.

  • clarespark

    There has always been an argument over America's origins and destiny. Soviet and Nazi propaganda were vicious on the subject of American expansion or its putative "Jewish" control of everything. I laid out what Herman Melville thought of America's destiny here, along with footnotes of the usual anti-American academic heavies. See http://clarespark.com/2009/09/06/the-hebraic-amer…. The full title is "The Hebraic American Landscape: Sublime or Despotic?"

    • Rifleman

      Very interesting site you have there, I visited it when you posted here a while back. I lost track of the time there and in my rush to get to bed, forgot to add it to my favs. Thanks for coming back and posting the link again.

      • clarespark

        It was kind of you to plug the website. I work very hard to keep it accurate and fair.

  • Looking4Sanity

    They might as well have built it exactly as it was before the attack. The terrorists did not attack buildings…they attacked the principles and way of life represented by the people occupying those buildings.

    And it was a very successful attack indeed.

    Just look at all the hand wringing, groveling, abject, spineless liberals that came out of the woodwork after the attack. You know…the "Blame America First" crowd. They infest the Halls of Congress, the White House, and all of our major cities. They are a plague on the greatness and exceptional nature of our nation.

    You'll know them when you see them. They are the dividers, the despisers, the destroyers… the utopians. Always with a criticism of their fellow citizens on their lips…even as they slip their hand into your pockets for just a little bit more. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

    • RoguePatriot6

      DEEEEP!!!!!!!

      Oh, forgot….and very true also.

      • Looking4Sanity

        Just speaking truth to power, my friend. That is how we win hearts and minds. Simple truth is more powerful than any weapon of Man's creation. Even a lie is more powerful than a nuclear bomb. Consider this quote from Samuel Adams:”It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”Our battleground is the arena of ideas. Our weapons are our words and beliefs. They have theirs and we have ours. Don't be silent. Swing a rhetorical battle axe for freedom every chance you get!

    • fiddler

      I remember their hand-wringing over American flags pasted on fire engines, and being aghast at the word "nationalism".

      Perish the thought! Those type need their own country.

      • Looking4Sanity

        Never forget, my friend! Persuade if possible, ridicule when necessary…just always tell the truth. It is its own defense. Thank you for being an American Patriot.

    • tagalog

      "We can't invade Afghanistan; it's almost winter, it will be too cold and snowy…"

      "We can't invade Afghanistan, it's almost Ramadan; they'll get really mad at us if we do that."

      "Now that we're in Iraq, our weaknesses are apparent with this sand storm that's slowing down our tanks."

      "We got into Baghdad, and what happened? We couldn't stop people from stealing the exhibits from the museum."

      "Mission Accomplished? Mission Accomplished? What arrogance on George Bush's part."

      "Our armed forces are creating a whole new generation of jihadists; they'll hate us for shooting their loved ones."

      And on and on and on…

      • Looking4Sanity

        There always seems to be some excuse for failing to aspire to exceptionalism, doesn't there? The problem is a failure of leadership from the top down to the local dog catcher. Even that is only a symptom of the real problem. Societal morals are in the toilet. Fix that and 90% of our problems disappear like magic.The only problem is no one wants to be bothered with making the effort…for one reason or another. That is a separate discussion all together.

  • RoguePatriot6

    You know if lib/;progs think that we are sooooooooo "racist" (this term has now been extended to those who are against gay marriage ladies and gentlemen) and we are truly at fault and on the wrong side of morality, then why don't they simply move to some country that's ruled by Islam?

    Oooopsss….ha ha ha ha, silly me, I almost forgot, most of the principles and lack of morality that they worship would get them executed. I wonder if most are even smart of enough to consider this……hmmmmm? Or is it something deeper that's driving them to this stupid mentality that they have?

    Maybe it's the fact that they are just a bunch of American hating, sniveling, perverted, windbags that hate this nation's principles and would side with anything that's bent upon destroying it. I say this because many of them mock Christianity for the same very same reasons that they should REALLY mock Islam. Ooops….I did it again..I forgot. That would require MORAL courage and actually taking a stand for something. No, instead it's easier to mock those that would just pray for you and leave the vengeance to God.

  • Oleg

    I think that one point that is often lost in the debate about the World Trade Center is that about the only thing that was American about it was it's address and the majority of it's occupants. The World Trade Center was owned, operated, and built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, that is a pseudo government agency not private free enterprise. In order to buid the original WTC the Port Authority exproriated dozens of privately owned properties occupied by small and medium sized businesses, and wiped out an entire street that had been there for over a century. So is it any wonder that it has taken over decade to construct a replacement to the twin towers or that there is a lacking in moral courage and direction? We have a building project designed and built by in essence a government commitee where nobody leads, nobody takes resposibilty, and nobody is accountable because there are no consequences. The Empire State building was designed and constructed in a fraction of the time because it was privately built, privately owned, and the consequences of not doing so was bankruptcy.

  • BS77

    Might be time to BOYCOTT all posts by that lunatic Schlomotion…do not respond to the bleating fool….do not reply, do not dignify his drivel.

  • wctaqiyya

    Well Daniel, Post American skyscraper is about right. From where I'm sitting, 9-11 was the beginning and end of the Islamic war against the west. And they won. We now live in a total police state, we continue to pour money and blood into feckless wars far away that do nothing but empower our enemies and weaken us. Our national resolve and sense of purpose is gone, our freedoms are gone and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

    • topeka

      … you gotta a t-shirt?!!

      Are you on the dole?

      /snark alert/

      • wctaqiyya

        Sure, welfare ain't what it used to be what with the expense of killing Muzzies in far away locations and importing their cousins by the shipload for no apparent purpose, but it's still better than nothing.

    • Oleg

      It isn't the wars themselves that are weaking the West it's the improper execution of these wars resulting from teh lack of leadership and the tyrany of political correctness. I'm coming to the conclusion the the best solution to Islamic terror is the elimination of Islam itself in one way or another, much like Nazism was anihilated through the Second World War, and Communism was all but discredited through the Cold War. Much like Communism Islam can only flourish when it's followers are cut off from exposure to the outside world. For starters we must shut off the money taps, close down CAIR, ban foreign funding of Mosque construction, and discourage Islamic enclaves in the West, but above all Sharia law must be banned outright.

      • wctaqiyya

        No, it's not the wars themselves, it's the expenses associated with them. As for eliminating the billion some odd Muslims, lemme know when Stark Industries invents a Muslim specific space cannon. Or, instead of trying to 'help' a bunch of bloodthirsty fanatics by invading their sandboxes, maybe we are better off playing in our own. That way, the Muzzies can peacefully kill each other, as they naturally enjoy doing, while we liberate Cuba and Canada. I think we all agree the French occupation of Quebec needs fixing and it's way past time we showed Castro the door. Finally, for all the time and money we wasted and continue to waste in Asia and the ME, we could have attained energy independence, built a real space station and be enjoying fruity drinks on the warm sand beaches of Cuba while toasting ourselves for getting rid of those insolent, supercilious French Canadians. It's an easy computation, left to themselves, the Muzzies will kill each other and America's business is the Americas. Yep, the Muzzies already here can get a free bus pass back home. I'm nothing if not considerate.

  • Tanstaafl

    We should have rebuilt them exactly as the orginials. Okay, maybe some SAMs on the top.