Rebuilt World Trade Center Towers Would Be "Focal Sign for American Resolve," Ability to Heal

Release Date: September 27, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The World Trade Center twin towers should be rebuilt as a "focal sign for American resolve, for the ability of a democratic society to suffer injury and heal," according to an urban sociologist at the University at Buffalo.

Mark Gottdiener, Ph.D., said that if the 110-story structures are not rebuilt, "their sheer absence will constitute a semiotic victory of the terrorists over the symbols of global capitalism."

Gottdiener, a professor in the UB Department of Sociology, said the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center should not be viewed as an attack on New York City, but an assault on icons of American capitalism.

"Muslim extremism was not bent on the destruction of the city," says Gottdiener. "New York will recover as before.

"But can anyone doubt that, when the dust has fully cleared and the rubble -- all million plus tons of it -- is removed, the World Trade Towers will be rebuilt? Indeed, they have to be rebuilt as before."

Gottdiener notes that Jean Baudrillard, the French intellectual theorist and apostle of the postmodern, "contemptuously dismissed the twin towers as the final exhaustion of modernism. By virtue of its twinning, the urban fabric had been erased through an absence of difference and replaced by cloning.

"For Baudrillard, the twin towers represented the death of urban architecture. Other critics, less extreme in their vision of modernism's demise, also hated these buildings for their pristine façade, large size and slavish devotion to the International style, not to mention the same boring signature touches of its architect, Yamasaki, which already had been replicated in his buildings everywhere.

"Now, having turned the structures into icons, Muslim suicide fanatics also have consecrated them."

Gottdiener says that "because the iconic skyline of Manhattan has been changed fundamentally through an immense absence, at least one of the buildings must be rebuilt and restored to its original 110 floor height.

"When this finally has come to pass," he adds, "the World Trade Towers will take on a new meaning. The restored tower(s) will be a focal sign for American resolve, for the ability of a democratic society to suffer injury and heal. And, all around, a memorial to fire fighters, police, paramedics, and ordinary people, will help consecrate the site.

"The terrorists will have produced a material object that, although perhaps no longer twinned in form, nevertheless twins a universal symbol of global capitalism with a sacred symbol of American resolve and the strength of its civic institutions. Beyond that, New York City, already the second most visited tourism destination after Disneyworld, will have a new visitor attraction that will no doubt draw millions."

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