I may have to revisit my opinion about Banksy, since he’s challenged the craven New York Times

My post title is somewhat misleading, because I actually don’t have an opinion about the artist Banksy.  You can’t revisit what never existed.  Up until about ten minutes ago, I didn’t care about him one way or the other, neither to like nor to dislike; nor to respect nor to revile.  For me, his name is familiar; everything else about him has, in the past, fallen into the “whatever” category.

However, Banksy’s opinion about the building rising at Ground Zero in New York suggests that he’s more than a “whatever.”  It’s not just that the piece demands that the City itself not cry craven at Ground Zero but, instead, bravely assert itself in the wake of 9/11 (never mind that it’s taken 12 years even to start building something).  What really makes Banksy’s latest move unusual is that he calls out The New York Times for its own craven behavior when it comes to an opinion piece demanding better for New York.

Banksky printed at his personal blog an editorial that the NYT refused to run.  Why?  One can guess.  Banksy just states the facts. “Today’s piece was going to be an op-ed column in the New York Times. But they declined to publish what I supplied. Which was this…”

Banksy's banned New York Times opinion piece

In the same post, Banksy includes some new art work illustrating censorship:

Banksy censorship illustration

Our suspicion is that the Times wants desperately to pretend that 9/11 never happened because it is an invitation to cognitive dissonance.  Islam is not a religion of piece, al Qaeda is not gone, and Barack Obama hasn’t made America more safe.  An op-ed demanding that the new tower trumpet America’s triumph over a foul ideology is simply unacceptable to a media institution drowning in dhimmitude.

So, when it comes to Banksy, there’s definitely more there than has met my eye. I I’m prepared to respect any society darling who has the decency to attack The New York Times.  Most people in society desperately crave the Times’ approval, so it’s very rare indeed for an insider to speak out.

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  • Charles Martel

    The enemy or my enemy is my friend, yadda, yadda, but in this case I’m going to disagree with Banksy. The new World Trade Center is a pretty good-looking skyscraper, very much a worthy successor to the old Twin Towers’ elongated, faceless, extruded square tubes. Two other Trade Center towers, one of them as tall as the Empire State Building, are also in the works. When done, there will three 1,000+-foot skyscrapers in the area, a cluster of highrises unmatched outside of Shanghai.
    I don’t know what Banksy wanted there in Lower Manhattan. Some of the proposals in the aftermath of 9/11 were the sandbox imaginings of some pretty unhinged architects. What finally got built is not only far easier on the eye than the Twins’ monoliths, it looks exactly like what it should: a commercial skyscraper, where evil capitalists can make all that money for artists to bemoan and good leftists to steal.

  • jj

    I’ve decided it has something to do with the site itself.  Maybe it’s an old Indian burial-ground or something.  I don’t think you’d have found anybody in New York who ever considered the twin towers as anything other than two remarkably uninspired, uninteresting, and architecturally vapid exercises.   Quite ugly, too: they were not at any time admired.  It’s only since the collapse that we’ve discovered they weren’t particularly well or robustly built, but that didn’t come as a surprise to the alert segment of the population, either.  Even as they were going up aspects of the design and building techniques were under frequent – and frequently pretty acrimonious – discussion.  Some of this is just New York: after all, we’ll fight about anything; but a fair percentage of it came from engineers and architects who weren’t liking any part of what they were seeing.  This smacks of Monday-morning quarterbacking,of course, but I was in rooms when those buildings were new wherein guys – guys who’d know – expressed opinions that they were disasters waiting to happen, and would not stand up well when they encountered a problem.  Obviously no one envisioned the specific problem that eventually arose – one hopes – but the idea that the buildings would collapse as neatly as any demolition operation could implode them was not a new idea. 
    The new tower… I don’t know.  It strikes me as pretty vapid, but I guess some of this is a function of function, if you will.  If the idea was to build something rising triumphant from the ashes, a finger in the eye of Islam – then it’s a failure.  Which ought not to surprise anyone: we are so deep in the murk of political correctness at this point that we will work overtime not to offend even those who live to kill us.  If the idea behind the building was nothing more than to utilize the space for New York City Office Tower #207, then it perfectly well succeeds at that.  Nothing special, nothing meaningful, just another tower in the city that specializes in them.  The source of genuine shame in it, for me, is that it’s taken so long.  This is America, and this is New York, fer chrissake!  We DO things there, we don’t talk them to death.  (We do that in places like Seattle.)  The iconic Empire State Building went up in 13 months, what in hell has taken this thing more than a decade?  I can’t help but feel that in the New York of my youth there’d have been a new tower standing there by about the end of 2003, it would have been the tallest building on the planet, and it would have had huge neon letters spelling out “F*** YOU, ABDUL” in Arabic and Farsi on all four sides.  I don’t know what the hell happened to us.

  • Mike Devx

    It’s one problem that the new tower may be, as jj says, vapid.  The twin towers were not exactly beacons of elegance or beauty on the NYC skyline.  If their lit-up nighttime silhouette made a statement to me, it was one of bureaucratic immenseness and solidity.    That the new tower is vapid, and a shrinking violet, is one sort of problem.
    It’s an entirely different sort of problem that you can’t have the OPINION that the new tower is vapid.  At least, according to the New York Times, you can’t.

  • lee

    I guess it looks fine to me. What skyscrapers are something special? Older ones that were built in period when there was more value to esthetic considerations: the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building. But they don’t build ’em like that anymore. (And I am not sure they can.) 
    Of the newer skyscrapers? Burj al Arab strikes me as a goofy metaphor–sailing in a place not really known for it. It’s all goo-goo with the colored LED lighting. CNN (Blech) lists China’s Central TV as one of the 25 Greatest skyscrapers. It is intereseting, but again, I am not sure it can be done at a great height (It is about half as tall as the Empire State Building.) They also list the Transamerica pyramid. I do like that one. But I also think that the ratio of base to height would suffer if trying to make it taller. The Petronus Twin Towers in Kuala Lampur are ugly. The Tokyo Coccoon Tower is interesting, but again, it is only about half the height of the Empire State Building. (The HEIGHT of this new one is part of the middle finger idea at the terrorists who destroyed the WTC.) From a quick perusal of the iternet, of the ones that are in the height category of the new One WTC, WTC seems better than most of the new-ish, taller ones. And not as bad as most of them. That may be the best that can be said.

  • Spartacus

    Ah.  Belatedly, my lightbulb flickers on.
    There was this news item last month about how South Korea just gave the green light to a skyscraper with a Romulan cloaking device.  I mean, the whole doggone 1476-foot building.  And I thought, “Even ignoring the fact that it must be monstrously expensive, why would anyone want to do that?  Among other things, won’t planes run into it if they can’t see it?”  But actually, planes ran into the WTC not because they couldn’t see it, but because they could.  So maybe it’s not so silly after all!
    But thinking about it a little bit more, if your entire building is one giant TV screen, you can put that to pretty much any darn use you please, e.g. “It’s Tuesday, so Tower Infinity must be neoclassical,” or “It’s Thursday, and I’ll bet they’re doing stucco again,” or “It’s Buddha’s birthday, so we’ll probably see the world’s tallest birthday cake on the way to work this morning.”  I suppose variety is good for the Seoul.

  • Texan99

    I think he’s onto something, but he’s fighting a losing battle.  It’s not just that building but all public architecture that’s vapid.  We’re in a vapid era for that kind of thing.  We really have lost our nerve.

  • JKB

    Regardless of its looks, it stands as a monument to 21st century bureaucratic efficiency.  Over a decade to build a building?  Not even a good building.  The Obamacare website is poised to take that honor online.  It is a 21st century  signal of that old maybe do spirit.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Never heard of Banksy.