To crown the building with the obviously inferior claim as the tallest U.S. tower would make a sad mockery of what it is the title is meant to honor...
Now that the Banksy New York month-long "residency" has ended, we think it is important to put his WTC remarks regarding the Freedom Tower into perspective. His proposed oped, which can be read in the coverage above, was clearly meant to get people talking and questioning, which is what officials in government and the media have been dead set against all along. That is the only reason we are now faced with a World Trade Center that so many of us find disappointing.
While many of the editorial comments in response to Banksy's criticism of the Freedom Tower are boiling over with outrage, the online comments tell a very different story. Banksy is saying what many of us are thinking. Isn't that what artists are meant to do? Whatever their medium? Provoke thought instead of blind submission to the status quo?
The sad truth is that a great many people see the current WTC project as an utter sellout. There was nothing in the Banksy editorial that was insulting to New Yorkers — except those who object to people thinking for themselves. But those who feel insulted should first ask themselves if the result were a better World Trade Center, would they still take offense? We hope the new Trade Center will stand for a very long time — we can afford to get it right.
According to Wikipedia, "Banksy is a pseudonymous United Kingdom-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world."
Lucky for us he added New York to the list. As he wrote in the rejected Times piece: "The attacks of September 11th were an attack on all of us and we will live out our lives in their shadow." How could anyone think he is being disrespectful? How can anyone — let alone the press that only exists to inform us — actually think they have a monopoly on 9/11 and feel free to impose their official version on others?
Banksy wrote the truth. What is insulting to New Yorkers, Americans, and those who were killed on 9/11 is that officials used their power to override the wishes of the people for what would rise in place of the world we lost. We were cheated. Who are the real vandals? Someone who uses a dilapidated brick wall that was painted over the next day to give voice to the voiceless and get people thinking — or those who abuse the public's trust and misappropriate public funds to permanently scar America's skyline?
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. This website exists because many of us believe that the World Trade Center was stolen from us twice. Banksy spoke up for so many who resent how the World Trade Center has been diminished and he did it effectively, without malice. He wanted to make a very important case and he surely did.
Thank you, Bansky. Maybe, when those knees stop jerking, the message may get through that we can still make the WTC a good deal better — as soon as some of us stop reflexively defending a discouraging plan.