Peter Maass's blog

August 14, 2010  |  permalink

Iconoclasm and the “Ground Zero Mosque”

My latest story, in New York magazine, focuses on the controversy over the so-called ground zero mosque. The piece draws on lessons of iconoclasm in the modern era, from the destruction of the World Trade Center to the demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station and the theft in 1911 of the Mona Lisa (more people lined up to see the empty spot where the stolen masterpiece had hung than visited the museum to see the actual artifact).  As the story says, “In a city with more than its share of famous buildings, one that doesn’t even exist has already become iconic. It is a modern alchemy of symbols in which the act of destruction doubles as an act of creation. The thing is, the opponents of the community center appear to have failed to understand the double-edged consequences of the preemptive iconoclasm they are trying to achieve.”


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