We watched the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary film Man on Wire the other night; it tells an incredible story. After years of dreaming and months of planning, 0n August 6, 1974 French tightrope walker Philippe Petit and his accomplices, employing ruses and hiding from guards, sneaked onto the roofs of the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. During the night they rigged a cable between the towers–shooting fishing line attached to an arrow from one tower to the other, then pulling across heavier strings, ropes, and ultimately the heavy cable–and secured it with guy wires attached to the WTC roofs. Then early on August 7, after working all night to prepare the wire, Petit stepped off the roof and onto the cable. For 45 minutes he walked back and forth, played cat-and-mouse with police, lay down on the wire to gaze up at the sky, and captivated Manhattanites and commuters who stared into the sky not quite believing what they were seeing. Petit was arrested when he returned to the roof, but the charges were eventually dismissed. See it.
The “ground zero mosque” controversy is a case study in media manipulation of public opinion. The very name “ground zero mosque” is intended to mislead–it is a cultural center modeled on Jewish Community Centers across the country with a room for prayer and would be two blocks away from the World Trade Center site in a “busy and diverse city district.” If the issue is one of respect for those killed at the WTC on 9/11, what respect is shown by the presence, also within a few blocks of the WTC, of the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club, Thunder Lingerie, and the Pussycat Lounge? Why don’t the cultural center’s opponents excoriate the owners of these establishments? Because respect for 9/11 victims is not really their point. The cultural center generated little heat when the New York Times ran a story about its development last December. Laura Ingraham even gave it her blessing while guest-hosting the O’Reilly Report on Fox. Salon reports the wave of opposition was pushed by virulently anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, picked up months later by the New York Post, and trumpeted for political ends, fear mongering, and anti-Islam propaganda by the same right-wing blowhards who preach that Obama is, in fact, a Muslim. It is a cynical and disgusting display of what is wrong with our present discourse.