A Tale of Two Parks
Published: Nov 16, 2011
On Monday — a day so lovely it seemed criminal to stay in the zip code of the 1% — my wife took a field trip downtown to Zuccotti Park and the 9/11 memorial.
She got quite an education.
Zuccotti Park, she said, was the very model of an impromptu community. Harmony ruled. Order prevailed. Maybe the housekeeping could have been improved, but it was, she said, a place where you could breathe deep, where you could feel free.
The 9/11 memorial, in contrast, was a classic Homeland Security operation. My wife didn’t have to remove her shoes, but in every other way, her visit was as pleasant as getting to a plane. By the time she reached the open memorial, she was seething at this textbook way of turning citizens into a herd and the illogic of the “security” effort — if a terrorist had a bomb in a backpack, the time to detonate it would be in that mass of as-yet-uninspected people in the dark, poorly ventilated corridor, not in the glorious and lovely memorial.
Timing is everything. In the middle of the night, at the orders of a mayor who was, the Times reports, annoyed by editorials calling him “gutless,” police cleared Zuccotti Park. Anything the protestors couldn’t carry out was heaved into dumpsters.
One park was safe. One apparently wasn’t. You can get a pass to visit the unsafe one today.
I’m a writer, a maker of sentences. I never thought I’d write this one: “The New York police dumped a library of some 5,500 books into garbage bins.” Or this: “How did it come to pass that I’m grateful for a police raid that leaves no one dead?”