I was leaving the library today and hopped in the car just in time to hear an ad for an all-male Shakespeare performance at Plymouth Plantation.
All-male performances were, of course, how things were done back in the day. So while today an all-male performance of something that actually does have female characters might give us pause, if the Plantation is aiming for a historical reenactment, they’re doing it right, and are perfectly entitled to do so.
And if the World Trade Center memorial is aiming to have important pieces of history in its museum, they should be allowed to do so - even if its the religious history. Yes, the cross doesn’t mean anything; yes, so, so much suffering occurred that day that no supernatural power stepped in to prevent; yes, the cross has been blessed and prayed around; yes, if the cross is in the museum then people will likely pray there; yes, the religious people are being ridiculous in placing so much value on some chunk of steel.
But we can’t write religion out of history, any more than we can write sexism out of history.
(oh, and this shit? This shit needs to stop. And don’t you dare tell me “I’m a real Christian, those people aren’t real Christians - let me introduce you to No True Scotsman)
Leaving the “cross” out of the WTC memorial isn’t removing an important piece of history. It’s refusing to allow a federal function to be co-opted by Christians trying to impose their views on others and intimidate other faith groups (or lack-of-faith groups) out of the public light.
We’re in agreement on the rest.
The organizers say that the cross would be in the museum, not the memorial:
The culminating chapter of the historical exhibition will take visitors from the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to the present moment, exploring the character and challenges of the post-9/11 world. From presentations on collective grief, global responses, and the search for the missing in the immediate days and weeks after the attacks, the exhibition will explore the prodigious efforts of recovery and rebuilding at the three attack sites, describing innumerable acts of compassion, volunteerism and public service. A concluding presentation presents the ongoing questions arising out of 9/11, and the evolving nature of how we understand its significance and place in history
Via here, also here has a long discussion of figuring out where the cross would be.
If it’s in the museum, presented in a historical context of “here’s something that people took comfort in, in the context of other sources of comfort”…then I think this falls into the category of “choose your battles - and here’s one that will make you look terrible”. There are other religious symbols being presented (as well as non-religious artifacts), but I don’t know how one would be expected to find a symbol that represents non-theists and people who don’t identify with traditional religion, who are a diverse group lacking a central symbol (Silverman’s idea of an atom was just…ridiculous).
Of course, even in a secular context, I’m certain Christians will pray in front of the cross, and…well, honestly, that isn’t something that we can do anything about (besides, of course, not having the cross present at all). But I can imagine that people pray in other museums - the Holocaust Museum in particular comes to mind. People are going to do things like that. And yes, they’re being silly. But…I’ve trying to think of a sentence to follow this “but”, and all I can come up with is: as long as they’re not making a disturbance…oh well?
ETA: I thought to add something else later, but the library had closed for the night so I was unable to. American Atheists themselves stated on their Facebook page:
James is certainly entitled to his opinion, but like many he has one fact wrong. The memorial and museum are separate entities. The memorial is a separate place surrounded by the museum. The cross is going in the memorial and is the only religious symbol in the memorial.
If it were part of a display in the museum…
I don’t have the link to this comment (it’s included in the discussion here), so I’m making the assumption that the “…” at the end is not saying “there’s more here that James cut out”, but that that’s how AA actually finished the comment. Edited again: I found AA’s comment, and this is the full text of it. So AA themselves appear to make a distinction between “cross in the museum” and “cross in the memorial” - which is an extremely important distinction. No, the cross should not be in the memorial - and according to the organizers of the memorial and museum, it won’t be.