Murmurs of Democracy at Independence Hall
As sales of the American flag grew rapidly after 9/11 and the flag was reproduced on car magnets, t-shirts, scarves, sweaters, hats, on school-children’s notebooks, homes, food wrappers, lapels, stamps, tattoos, and gas station logos, the other most cherished emblems of our civilization, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall, were placed under house arrest.
Department of the Interior closed the Statue of Liberty immediately after 9/11. This was probably a sensible and prudent step
dubious terror warnings were sounded, Lady Liberty was closed for almost three
years. The security installation was
made more elaborate, cumbersome – at the very least sloppy and ungraceful – so
that it no longer seemed petty to wonder what it all was for. Sharing her experience on Trip Advisor, a
Be prepared, though, to go through lots of bureaucratic hurdles including two trips through tighter-than-airport security. I understand why it's important to protect the statue from attack, but if I were a little more cynical I'd say that the new security measures are so extreme that they make a mockery of the ideal of liberty the statue is meant to honor…After buying my ticket I waited half an hour (in the freezing cold) to be let into the shed to wait for the ferry, then another half hour to go through pre-boarding security. For this step we were required to remove everything: shoes, jackets, watches, belts, and everything in our pockets, put it through a scanner, and walk through a metal detector. Any bags we were carrying were searched.
Last year, as the crown itself (once the very reason for
In order to get
However, in order to get inside the statue, you have to stow your gear in a locker... that requires you to use your fingerprint as a key!!! You can also pay with a credit card, that way if anyone hacks the machine, they can have your print AND your credit card information. This must be in place to protect us from those Al Qaeda frogmen that are clever enough to swim ashore, but are too stupid to perform their dastardly deed at night where they can circumvent the locker bay by climbing the seemingly easy-to-climb wall.
In all likelihood, it’s probably to condition us into giving up our biometric information at every turn [As if biometrics could never be hacked...] so that security companies can make even more $$$, while we become more and more sheep-like each day. In any case, I didn't go inside.
What’s notable here, of course, is
the tone. It was no longer possible to
shrug off the security as mere inconvenience; now it inspired cynicism, anger,
and fear. It also placed the Feds on one
side and local officials, eager to make the tourist experience more pleasant,
on the other. Some officials began to
doubt the good intentions of the National Park Service, and by extension the
administration. Upon learning that the
crown would remain closed indefinitely,
But following the attacks on the
All of this appeared to destroy –
nullify -- the $300 million investment. Attendance,
as at the Statue of Liberty, plummeted (in the first years after 9/11 by 50% in
To Philadelphians, Independence Hall is not museum piece but a part of the
fabric of our city. It’s our birth-rite to
walk through the brick arcades on our way to work, to sit in the shade of its
trees at lunchtime. In that famous
nineteenth century painting by Peter Frederick Rothermel,
Statehouse on the day of the battle of
It’s no surprise, then, that
Philadelphians began to accuse the administration of intentionally severing
this relationship. Responding to the
public’s doubt about the security plan, park service officials kept referring
to “pressure from
Yet for all they’ve done to use fear to control the political rhetoric, these Neo-cons make lousy fascists. They don’t seem to care enough about government to use it so thoroughly to their ideological advantage. What seems clear is that an unambiguous anti-urbanism was coupled with the Bush reflex to enrich his corporate friends with easy government contracts. On top of this emerged the American entrepreneur’s new-found obsession with security. All of a sudden any two-bit security scheme was a necessary investment in public safety…Imagine the consequences if certain measures aren’t taken.
Thus, this past summer, the park
service told us if we wanted to continue to protect our symbol of freedom from
evil-doers we would have to put it permanently behind bars. The bike racks would be replaced with a
seven-foot wrought iron fence, splitting
The irony was no longer lost.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and many others, aided by the free-flow and speed of the Internet and easy on-line access to government officials, organized an e-mail campaign to the National Park Service. Hundreds of letters were sent decrying the fortification of that which was created to knock down the fort. Give us back what we cherish, we demanded, that which reminds us of who we are.
This week, thanks to the vestiges
of the regulatory state still functioning in
To understand the significance of
this little democratic uprising, it’s worth imagining what
might have happened had the original Americans not demanded the government
listen and pay heed to their beliefs.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, who arrived in