Daily archives: August 18th, 2007

Rubbing Salt in 9/11’s Wounds

PhD-dropout Alec Rawls has a conspiracy-theory laden blog he’s using to rub salt in 9/11 victims’ wounds. Aptly called, “Error Theory,” Rawls latest has drawn the attention of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for his criticism of the proposed Flight 93 memorial. According to the Post-Gazette:

Nearly two years after the design of the United Flight 93 Memorial was changed to eliminate any perceived Islamic symbolism, the father of one of the people killed in the crash has asked that his son’s name be withheld from the monument.

“It’s something I’d rather not do, but I can’t get anyone to listen,” said Tom Burnett Sr., of Northfield, Minn. “In a sense, I’m asking for a call to action.”

Burnett’s suspicions have been inflamed by Rawls’ strange allegations:

“A person facing into the giant central crescent of the Flight 93 Memorial is facing Mecca.”

There are 44 glass blocks being used in the design, representing the 40 passengers and four terrorists who hijacked the plane.

The 93-foot tall Tower of Voices, which will include wind chimes to represent those who died, is an Islamic sundial. “Shadow calculations confirm that, on any day of the year, when the tower shadow reaches the inner arc of trees, it will be time for Islamic afternoon prayers.”

According to Rawls, he has Burnett’s full support:

He described his own efforts to stop the crescent design, including letters to the press that were never published. [Update: In a subsequent discussion with Mrs. Burnett, she thought that at least one of the letters was published by the Somerset Daily American. Will update later with what I can verify about who did and did not publish the letters.] With the crescent design still going forward, he has decided that it is necessary to up the ante, and has authorized me to publicize his decision to protest the crescent design by insisting that Tom Jr.’s name not be inscribed on one of the 44 glass blocks emplaced along the flight path, or used anywhere else in the memorial.

The problem with the theory, of course, is, like theories of Young Earth Creationists, it has no bearing on reality. There are only 40 glass blocks planned for the memorial.

Back to the Post-Gazette:

When the concerns about the use of the crescent first arose, the designer of the memorial, Paul Murdoch, willingly changed the shape to an almost full circle.

And this:

Regarding the claim that there are 44 glass blocks in the memorial, Mr. Murdoch vehemently disagreed, saying that, first of all, there is no glass block used in the design.

Instead, there are 40 inscribed marble panels listing the names of the passengers and crew at the gateway to the Sacred Ground, where their remains still rest.

There is then an opening in the wall, Mr. Murdoch said, and three additional panels, which would include the date, Sept. 11, 2001.

“Where the other one is being fabricated, I don’t know,” he said.

And there’s more in the Post-Gazette to refute these absurd allegations.

It’s enough that we collectively were victimized on September 11, 2001, and that some, like Mr. Burnett, felt that pain as no one ever should. But Rawls’ fabrications continue to divide us, and rub salt in old wounds. And Muslims were also horrified at the actions of a few, claiming their religion as justification for pure evil – just as the vast majority of Christians are horrified by the Ku Klux Klan claiming Jesus of Nazareth as inspiration for their hateful deeds.

Sifting through plans for a memorial to eradicate every imagined reference to Islam brings us all down.

Rawls and others of his ilk should visit a Mosque, or an interfaith gathering with Muslims, Christians, and Jews. For one evening, they should speak with, pray with, and get to know their neighbors. But perhaps that is asking too much.

After all, Jesus had a very unconventional response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

Ranch Dressing

President Bush's Ranch DressingAustin American-Statesman reporter White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, and President Bush, no doubt, for awarding the president the “Walker, Texas Ranger” ranch clothing prize. Salon.com drew our attention to this. According to an article in the Washington Post:

What really gets George W. Bush riled up? Calling him a fashion victim.

Last week, Marques Harper of the Austin American- Statesman wrote a short piece about the president’s sartorial style on his Texas ranch, where Bush is spending a two-week vacation. The article was reprinted Tuesday in a Waco, Tex., paper, and the leader of the free world was not pleased.

Harper received a phone call that morning from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who, Harper told friends, said the president read the article and was unhappy about the way he was portrayed.

On this trip, President Bush wins the coveted award for US Prez. who has spent the least time at the White House, rivaling only Governor Blagojevich of Illinois in time spent away from his respective capital.

According to Harper’s article, which requires a free subscription to view:

Bush has two distinct looks when he’s in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he’s opted to look more like “Walker, Texas Ranger” than a sweaty, tough ranch hand.

“As he loses popularity, his image is more and more critical,” said Sara Canaday, an Austin-based communication and image consultant. “He’s being advised wisely. He’d better step it up. He wants to have this sort of bravado image when he’s on that ranch.”

When things really fall apart, bring in the fashion consultant!

It’s tough times at the White House on the style front. According to The Washington Post, signs have appeared at numerous White House entrances in recent days, reminding staff members and others that proper attire must be maintained. That means no jeans, sneakers, shorts, miniskirts, T-shirts, tank tops or flip-flops.

Harper’s piece ends with a bit of advice for the First Vacationer:

With only one presidential summer left in Crawford after this, perhaps it’s time for Mr. President to line up work for life after the White House. Here’s a thought: Follow the lead of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who is the new face of luxe brand Louis Vuitton.

In his Western duds, Bush easily could model for Ralph Lauren. But if his popularity is still low through the end of his presidency, he could always try Wrangler.

Time for Queer Eye for the Travelin’ Guy.