Thursday, August 10, 2006

Statue of Liberty to Remain Closed

According to a letter received by Congressional Representative Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn, the National Parks Service has given up on attempting to reopen the interior of the Statue of Liberty to the public. The statue was closed entirely in 2001 following the attack on the World Trade Center. The pedestal was reopened in 2004.

Weiner's press release is available here.

The metaphoric content here is so rich it's hard to know where to start.

I have to assume that the main concern is providing access to the internal supports of the statue and not, as the Parks Service asserts, concern over fire safety. Fire issues, if there were any, would long predate the events of 9/11.

But at the end of the day, what is the Statue of Liberty, really? It's copper and steel put together in a way that is symbolic of an idea. It is not the idea itself, nor is it even the embodiment of the idea. What happens, then, to the idea if you should take away the symbol?

Nothing. Liberty itself, as an idea, is not harmed in the least if someone blows up the Statue of Liberty. And if anything, it would steel the resolve of those who live under the idea of liberty to do what is necessary to defend it.

On the other hand, locking down the statue protects the copper and steel, but does great damage to the notion of liberty itself. Weiner is right - - the terrorists win.

So someone blows up the Statue of Liberty and they dance in the streets in Najaf or wherever. We rebuild it, and go about our lives. Let them blow it up a hundred times. We will put it up again one hundred one times. I have faith that our resolve is greater than theirs.

Otherwise, we are killing the idea to protect a particular arrangement of copper and steel that becomes, in the absence of the idea, meaningless.



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