Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Clash of Symbols

Recently, a pair of images have come to the center of small, yet growing controversies, outside the discussion zone of the Mainstream Media (MSM). The MSM has been a mite tetchy as it comes to mentioning anything Islamic in other than glowing terms, and both these issues involve ostensibly Islamic iconography.

Most recently, Burger King launched a new pre-packaged dessert, an ice cream sundae, upon which lid is printed a swirly image of a soft-serve ice cream top.Apparently, for some Muslims, this ice cream swirl is the image of God -- or, rather, it somewhat resembles the Arabic inscription for “Allah”. I can see how a stylized design of a spinning ice cream cone might make somebody like me see a deity, but not how that would be anything but pleasing. After all, are we not all hungry for something more than bread? But to demand that a business change a thing because it vaguely resembles an inscription in a language which is not native to the place where the product is sold... it seems to me that somebody is beginning to get a bit oversensitive. What next? No more teaching Western children to make cursive “W”s? No more preschoolers painting ocean waves? Allah may not smite you, little one, but the imam down the street very well might.

Sadly, Burger King, in the spirit of meek inoffensiveness, and catering to a minute portion of its customer base, spent huge sums of its own money to change the design on the top of its dessert cup. But then, Burger King is a corporation whose income is dependent upon good will. 

Our Federal Government is not so much. It has a hand in every American’s pocket, already, and we don’t have any say in whether or not they can take from us. However, we do have control over how our money is spent (or so it is believed. After all, there are all sorts of pork projects out there that we didn’t actually want, but some senator wanted his name on another building or memorial highway). And, federal money is involved in the construction and maintenance of the memorial at the Pennsylvania crash site of 9/11/01 Flight 93.

Here, the design for a memorial to the private citizens who stood up and defended our nation’s capital, at the cost of their own lives, is a big crescent, a “Crescent of Embrace”, as its architect has named it. And, if you look at the land’s topography, one might think that a near-circle of maple trees -- accompanied by another smaller, star-like cluster off one of its points -- is a nice idea, except for the fact that, when the leaves turn red in fall, it becomes a symbol of the ideology which guided the murderers our brave citizens rose against. The red crescent is known worldwide as the sign for jihad. 

I’m not against the design of a soothing, peaceful garden in such a form. I’m just against it being placed there. The field, less than ten minutes -- as the jet flies -- from the seat of our government, marks the spot where our own people refused go quietly, refused to “just go along to get along”, and paid the ultimate price for their heroism. The monument to these good people should be at least as strong and brave and overtly unyielding as were they. And it should by absolutely no means reflect -- intentionally or not -- the mindset of the people they stood against. If you want peace and inclusion, build a curved reflecting pool -- down the road a mile or so. I want a monument which shows the unity of purpose of a handful of strangers, defending their fellow Americans. I want something which says, “out of many, one.” Let the embrace be not of some vague, warm fuzzy concept, but an embrace of brothers and sisters, united in determination to succeed against our foes. Let the permanent symbol of these, our heroes, draw our hearts heavenward in unison, and remind everybody of Todd Beamer’s last known words: “Let’s roll.”

Of course, if the Muslim community is upset about the use of their iconography on an ice cream sundae, why aren’t they furious over our using their crescent to mark the site where our martyrs stopped their martyrs from making martyrs of most of our elected officials and their staffs? After all, that parcel of land is where a handful of men, who would have murdered hundreds or thousands more in Allah’s name, failed, due to the strength of character of ordinary members of The Great Satan. It would mark (a) a perversion of the “Religion of Peace”, and (b) a display of failure of its adherents to accomplish their intended goal. One would imagine both sensible and radical Muslims might find that marker as offensive to them as it is to other faithful Americans. 

They might sooner have an ice cream sundae with a curlicue on its lid.

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