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Congressman Ramstad comes out in opposition to the Flight 93 memorial

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Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN) gave a House speech this month, supporting Mr. Burnett’s opposition to the crescent design. The speech is entered in the Congressional Record here, along with supporting statements from Tom Burnett Sr. (father of murdered Flight 93 hero Tom Burnett Jr.).

That makes two Congressmen now who have come out publicly against the crescent memorial. (Tom Tancredo took the lead last November, asking the Park Service to choose a completely new design.)

News coverage revs up confrontation at this Saturday’s public meeting

Ramstad’s speech, and our ongoing petition drive, netted a full width banner headline on the front page of the Somerset Daily American, with the story continuing full width on an inside page as well. This high profile local news coverage should make for an interesting Memorial Project meeting at the Somerset County Courthouse this Saturday. Several critics will be speaking during the public comment period, and the first batch of petitions will be delivered in bulk (over 5000 signatures to date, 4700 online and 500 on paper).

The Daily American article includes lots of powerful language from Mr. Burnett and other critics of the crescent design, along with some remarkably disingenuous evasions from the usual defenders. Most egregious is Patrick White, vice president of Families of Flight 93, who tries to pretend that the criticisms of the design are all about Mr. Burnett trying to get an undemocratic “do over” after failing to stop the Crescent of Embrace design when he served on the design competition jury.

While on the jury, Mr. Burnett only complained about the giant Islamic shaped crescent and the minaret-like Tower of Voices. No one on the jury, including Mr. Burnett, knew anything about the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent; or about the placementof the 9/11 date in the exact position of the star on an Islamic crescent and star flag; or about the 44 glass blocks on the flight path; or about the fact that the Tower of Voices turns out to be a year-round accurate Islamic prayer-time sundial.

Not that the jury is beyond reproach. It was bizarre for these family members and design professionals to plant a bare naked crescent and star flag on the graves of our murdered heroes, but given everything that the jurors did NOT know, this configuration at least COULD have been an accident. What came out after the design was selected is absolute proof of terrorist memorializing intent, with every Islamic and terrorist memorializing feature being repeated in the Tower of Voices portion of the memorial.

One example is the 38 Memorial Groves. (There were supposed to be 40.) By itself, it is merely suspicious that the arc of 38 groves can be seen as a set of 19 nested crescents: one for each 9/11 hijacker. But architect Paul Murdoch proves this terrorist memorializing intent by surrounding the Tower of Voices with a second set of 19 nested crescents. And on it goes. EVERYTHING gets repeated in the Tower of Voices, and the 93 foot tall Islamic sundial is itself a very precise structure that could NEVER occur by accident.

Patrick White wants to dodge all this by pretending that the controversy is about the initial jury decision, instead of the ensuing blindness to voluminous evidence of terrorist memorializing intent. No one exemplifies this willful blindness better than Patrick White himself.

Patrick White denies the Mecca orientation in public while admitting it in private

At the July 2007 Memorial Project meeting, a critic of the crescent design engaged Mr. White in private conversation, asking how he could be unconcerned about the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent. White’s reply was to suggest that this orientation cannot be seen as a tribute to Islam because the inexactness of it would be “disrespectful to Islam.” (The crescent points 1.8° north of Mecca, ±.1°.)

But this isn’t what White was telling the public. That same week, Patrick White told the press that all of the claims about Islamic symbolism had been thoroughly investigated and been found to be untrue and “preposterous.” In private, White was acknowledging the almost exact Mecca orientation of the crescent and making excuses for it, while issuing sweeping denials in public.

He is still doing the same thing. He KNOWS that the giant crescent points almost exactly to Mecca, yet claims that such “assumptions,” have been “repeatedly shown-to-be-false.” In fact, not a single factual claim about what is in the design has ever been rebutted. If the crescent did not point to Mecca, it would be trivially easy to demonstrate. This is a simple geometric claim. But all the Memorial Project has ever offered is unsupported denials, denials that they acknowledge in private to be FALSE.

Patrick White’s dishonest attack on Tom Burnett

The jury process is irrelevant. No one is criticizing it. The jurors bear no responsibility for hidden Islamic and terrorist-memorializing features that they knew nothing about when they chose the crescent design. If it were not for two ugly bits of misinformation, put forward by Patrick White in his effort to make the jury process the issue, there would be no reason to mention the jury process at all. Both of White’s falsehoods are aimed at discrediting Tom Burnett Sr.

1. In the Daily American article (half way down) White claims that Mr. Burnett: “gave his consent to support what the majority picked.”

Mr. Burnett was incensed in 2005 when the Memorial Project announced that the jurors had united behind the majority choice. Without ever consulting with Mr. Burnett, the Memorial Project wrote in their jury report that: “By consensus the Stage Two jury forwards this section of the Flight 93 memorial to the partner [Paul Murdoch] with the full and unqualified support of each juror.” Tom has been trying to correct the record ever since, and Patrick White OUGHT to know it.

2. White also claims that: “No one agreed then with Mr. Burnett’s preferred choice for a final design.”

“To the contrary” says Mr. Burnett, “the vote not unanimous; it was 9 to 6.” Five people were with Mr. Burnett in rejecting the crescent design. This on a jury made up of 8 design professionals and 7 family members. It could even be that a majority of family members opposed the Crescent of Embrace. Tom requested the vote tally in a formal letter to the Memorial Project which was never answered. Now Patrick White throws the vote tally in Tom’s face, and completely misrepresents it.

3. Bonus badness. White claims that: “Jurors gave all of Mr. Burnett’s concerns a complete airing.”

In fact, the design professionals on the jury tried to shut Mr. Burnett up. Tom Sokolowski, director of Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum called Mr. Burnett “asinine” just for noticing that the crescent is a traditional symbol of Islam. This overt hostility to Mr. Burnett’s concerns is not what most of us would call “a complete airing.”

So no, the jury process is not the issue here, but if it were, it couldn’t stand up to scrutiny either.

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It points to Mecca! Push it!

Flight 93 is the symbol of our woken vigilance. We are supposed to be alert now, to jihadist enemies that hide amongst us, pretending to be trustworthy friends.

Those charged with the memorialization of Flight 93 have instead embraced an anti-spirit of Flight 93, regarding vigilance as somehow beyond the pale even of contemplation.

Listen to the words of Clay Mankamyer, one of the founders of the Flight 93 Memorial Project, describing the Project’s reaction to warnings of Islamic symbolism in the Crescent of Embrace design. They asked the accused architect Paul Murdoch about it. They agreed with him that it was “too big a stretch” to think that he had conspired to intentionally include Islamic symbolism, and so they decided that: “we’re just not going to address the issue.” They made an up-front decision NOT to look at the facts.

Here is the audio (50 seconds) followed by a transcript:

Audio button, reel to reel
The controversy then arose. When I first heard it, it was a street preacher who had drawn attention to the similarities to the red crescent, and when you heard what he had to say about it, and looked at the design, there were without a doubt some striking similarities. He went to, I went to, Paul Murdoch and expressed some concern and wondered what they were going to do about it. Their decision was that, well, certainly everybody is going to see that any similarity is going to be just coincidental and it’s too big a stretch to think that anybody conspired to create anything but a memorial to the heroes who WON the battle that fateful morning, and so they decided that, ‘we’re just not going to address the issue.’

Mankamyer is not ideologically disposed to be politically correct. He is a conservative Christian patriot, speaking in this instance to a Christian Coalition meeting (recorded by Bill Steiner, with the knowledge and permission of those in attendance, 9-18-2007, Greensburg PA). What seems to be operating here is a generous spirit of goodwill, unwilling to believe anything bad about this architect they had all worked with and put their trust in.

Goodwill only towards the man accused of an enemy plot

The problem is that Mankamyer et al. failed to similarly give the benefit of the doubt to those who were issuing warnings about the design. If they had treated the critics as credible people too, they would have let the facts decide, and Murdoch’s dishonesty would have been quickly exposed.

When the controversy over the crescent name and shape first erupted, Murdoch denied that his giant crescent had the same shape as an Islamic crescent:

Theirs is a lunar crescent. Ours isn’t based on that.

Oh yeah? Zombie posted a “throbbing crescent” animation (no longer active) that showed otherwise, and Michelle Malkin broadcast it to the online masses. Here is a three panel re-creation:

Throbbing crescent 50%
“Throb on” shows the Tunisian crescent, matching the geometry of the Crescent of Embrace almost exactly: about 2/3rds of a circle of arc, with a circular inner arc. (Most definitely NOT a lunar crescent, which covers half a circle of arc and has an elliptical inner arc.) “Throb off” shows bare crescent site plan. (Click pic for larger image.)

All that people like Mankamyer had to do was actually look at what people were telling them and they would have known immediately that Murdoch was deceiving them. Instead, they explicitly decided that they were NOT going to look at the facts. They extended good will only to the man who was accused of perpetrating an enemy plot, while extending nothing but ill will towards his accusers.

“A shrine to Micky Mouse”

Mankamyer’s presentation includes some wrenching examples of just how willfully blind he and others have become as they continued down their chosen fact-free path. Listen to the crazy excuse he comes up with for not being concerned about the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent (ten seconds):

Audio button, reel to reel
You see what we are up against though. I could come in here and say… I could draw a point from this window to that window, and it goes right to Orlando Florida and this is a shrine to Micky Mouse. [laughter]

This is clever? A Mecca-oriented crescent or arch shape is the central feature around which every mosque is built. A line across two windows does not orient anything, and the scumbags who hijacked Flight 93 did not pray to Micky Mouse five times a day.

Of course Mankamyer was intentionally offering the stupidest example he could concoct as a way of suggesting that it is just as stupid to be concerned about planting a giant Mecca-oriented crescent on the Flight 93 crash site. If he had said that directly everyone in the room would have been disgusted, so instead he made the most disingenuous comparison he could come up with.

This is what their spirit of goodwill has degenerated into: pure malignant bias.

They all know about the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent

Notice that Mankamyer does not deny the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent. This squares with what Flight 93 Advisory Commission member Tim Baird told Alec Rawls in July 2007: that everyone involved in the Memorial Project is fully aware that the giant crescent does in fact point within two degrees of Mecca. They all just have excuses for why they are not concerned about it.

“I won’t be concerned unless you can prove intent,” Baird said, “and it is impossible to prove intent.” i.e. Baird does not care what the facts are. There is absolutely nothing that could ever wake him up from his anti-vigilant slumber.

They all know that the public would never accept a giant Mecca oriented crescent on the crash site, regardless of whether it was intentional or not, so they lie about it. One project spokesman after another keeps declaring that factual claims like the Mecca orientation of the crescent are false and “preposterous.”

How long before one of these fine upstanding citizens recognizes that it is wrong to keep lying to the public about explosive information that they all know to be true?

Mankamyer says that he would like to see a Congressional investigation

The scenes are quite astounding. Clay Mankamyer, a conservative Christian, manages to get a Christian Coalition meeting laughing about the Mecca orientation of the Flight 93 crescent. How do you ever live that down?

You start by trying. In the question and answer part of the meeting, Bill Steiner asked for an independent investigation, and Mankmyer said he would join Bill in that (10 seconds):

Audio button, reel to reel
Bill Steiner: “The only concerns we have is that this design be fully vetted by a Congressional investigation before it goes any further.”

Bill talks over Mankamyer’s reply, but Mankamyer repeats himself enough to be heard: “And I would like … I would join you in that.”

If Mr. Mankamyer would insist publicly on a Congressional investigation, it would go a long ways. So would admitting to the public that he and others in the Project are aware of the factual accuracy of the Mecca-orientation claim.

Tom Burnett Sr. is asking everyone to help him get state and Congressional investigations started. It would certainly help if at least a few people from inside the Memorial Project would start telling the truth.

“I came into this world to be a witness for truth”

The heroes of Flight 93 did not obfuscate. They faced the harsh truth of their situation and acted as love required. Mankamyer understands that. He is a genuine patriot, who dedicated himself to the memorialization of Flight 93.

Somehow–apparently at the urging of architect Paul Murdoch–he let himself be guided by presumption, finding excuses to avoid unpleasant truths. (It was in talking to Murdoch that Mankamyer and others decided it was “too big a stretch to think anyone conspired” and they should therefore “not … address the issue.”)

Facing threat of death, Jesus told Pilate that he “came into the world to be a witness for truth” (Jn 18:37). This is his most fundamental instruction to his followers: trust in truth. Never EVER put presumption ahead of witness. For those who make this mistake, it is never to late to undo it.

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A plea from Tom Burnett Sr. to the wonderful people of Somerset

(The ad copy below is running in tomorrow’s Somerset Daily American.)

My son Tom confronted a terrible moment of truth. Faced with a plot against our nation, he and the other heroes of Flight 93 fought back, and at the cost of their lives, foiled that plot to destroy the White House or the Capitol. Now it is time for the rest of us to face our moment of truth. Flight 93 has been re-hijacked, and I am requesting that if you can, you go down to the public meeting of the Memorial Project at Somerset Courthouse Saturday, sign up to comment at the end, and demand that a proper investigation be conducted.

THIS was no accident:

MockUpandWikiCrescent30%

The Memorial Project held an open design competition in time of war, inviting the entire world to enter. Guess who joined in? That group of trees that sits roughly in the position of the star on an Islamic flag is the crash site. Who do YOU think is being memorialized here?

A second Islamic feature that I also protested when I served on the Stage II jury is the minaret-like Tower of Voices, formed in the shape of a crescent, with its top cut at an angle so that its crescent arms reach up into the sky.

TowerShapeComposite50%

Upturned crescents are a standard mosque adornment in many Muslim countries.

Every iota of this original Crescent of Embrace design remains completely intact in the so-called “redesign.” That is why Congressman Tancredo asked the Park Service this autumn to scrap the existing design entirely. Instead of getting rid of the giant crescent as Tancredo demanded back in 2005, architect Paul Murdoch only disguised it with a few surrounding trees.

Also remaining are those damned 44 glass blocks on the flight path. (There were forty passengers and crew and four Islamic terrorists on Flight 93.) The Memorial Project acknowledges the 40 blocks inscribed with the names of my son and the other heroes, and they acknowledge the three inscribed with the 9/11 date, but they pretend not to know about this one: the huge glass block that dedicates the entire site.

44th block close up

When this 44th glass block is pointed out, Project Partners say that it can’t be counted with the other blocks because it is not the same size. What? Because the capstone to the terrorist memorializing block count is magnificent, that is supposed to make it okay?

For every Islamic or terrorist memorializing feature of the crescent design, the Park Service has another equally phony excuse. Please read the exposé below of the Park Service’s fraudulent investigation, and please come to the meeting on Saturday to demand state and Congressional investigations into the Flight 93 memorial.

Tom Burnett Sr.
February 2008

PDF of ad copy here.

Non-locals who want to help, please contact your senators and representatives!

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Nasser Rabbat, a Syrian professor of Islamic architecture at MIT, told the Park Service not to worry about the giant Mecca oriented crescent at the center of the Flight 93 Memorial. He said that since it does not point quite exactly to Mecca (it is off by 1.8°) it can’t be considered a proper mihrab (the central feature around which every mosque is built).

Liar. Many of the most famous mihrabs face as much as 20 or 30 degrees off of Mecca.

Here is another Rabbat deception:

Mosques are never in the shape of a crescent or a circle. This defeats the purpose of lining up the worshipers parallel to the Qibla wall (Mecca orientation), which usually translates into a rectangular shape, or sometimes a square. [From the White Paper released by the Memorial Project in August 2007.]

It is true that most mosques are rectangular, the more clearly to mark the direction to Mecca, but this is certainly not a requirement, given that the two most religiously significant sites in Islam are round mosques. Significant site #1 is the Sacred Mosque in Mecca:

Second most significant is the Mosque of Omar, also called the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, from which point Muhammad supposedly ascended into heaven:

Perhaps because of the prominence of these precedents, a small but significant number of mosques around the world follow the round model.

There is the Tun Abdul Aziz mosque built in Malaysia in 1975, referred to colloquially as the “Masjid Bulat,” or “round mosque.”

There is the new 5,000 person Arafat Mosque in Nigeria, which the architect claims is “the only round mosque in Africa,” but he is wrong. Another round mosque, Al Nileen, sits at the confluence of Blue and White Nile rivers in Khartoum:


[From Google Earth. Look up “alnileen mosque”.]

Africa is also home to some older round mosques. Here is a round mosque from the Ivory coast. Similar mosques have also been found in Sierra Leone.

Here is a modern Russian mosque, laid out in shape of an eight point star.

There is even a famous round mosque right in the heart of the EU, at the northwest corner of the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels.

There is a round mosque in Kuwait, a round mosque in Kadavu India, and probably many more.

At the Islamic architecture website Archnet, a Muslim architect (not a native English writer) explains the problem with round mosques:

… a circular mosque can not function well because a mousqe should have an oriantation to kibla and as we all know that a circle does not have an orientation, How can we know the kibla wall if it is a circle ?

This problem does not afflict Paul Murdoch’s mosque design for the Flight 93 memorial because Murdoch’s giant crescent does create an orientation. Face into the crescent to face Mecca, just as with a smaller size mihrab.

Geometrically, Murdoch’s Crescent of Embrace is just a gigantic Islamic prayer rug:

A Muslim prayer rug is a two dimensional mihrab, laid out to face Mecca, just as the Crescent of Embrace is.

Notice that to a person looking into the Flight 93 crescent, the irregularity of the outer arc of the crescent is not visible. The radial arbors are all behind the double row of red maples that line the walkway. The ends of the crescent are also well defined by the end of the walkway of red maples at the bottom and the end of the thousand foot long, fifty foot tall Entry Portal Wall on top. This is a perfectly comprehensible and recognizable Mecca direction indicator.

Rabbat’s comments to the Park Service do not even pretend to be objective. He lists “talking points” in defense of the crescent design without ever even pretending to weigh the merits of the case against the design.

Most obviously, Rabbat never considers the almost exact Mecca orientation of the giant crescent as a grounds for concern, but limits his remarks to possible excuses for not worrying about this obviously worrisome fact. The same for all of his other talking points. He only even considers ways to absolve the crescent design.

In short, Rabbat is as overtly biased as he could possibly be, yet the Park Service has no qualms about this overt bias. Rabbat gives them the excuses for unconcern that they want and they eagerly embrace him. The Park Service investigation into warnings of an enemy plot was a total fraud.

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Professor who white-washed the Crescent of Embrace was Paul Murdoch’s classmate at UCLA

An excerpt from the Park Service investigation into the Flight 93 memorial identifies one of their consultants as a scholar from MIT who “wishes to remain anonymous.” Another document identifies this person as a religious scholar or a professor of Islamic architecture. MIT does not have a religion department, and they only have one professor of Islamic architecture: Professor Nassar Rabbat, who has confirmed that he is the Park Service consultant.

A check of Rabbat’s background shows that he was a classmate of Paul Murdoch, both getting masters degrees in architecture from UCLA in 1984 and both doing their masters work on Middle Eastern subjects. Murdoch wrote a “masters project” titled: “A museum for Haifa, Israel.” Rabbat did a masters thesis titled: “House-form, climactic response and lifestyle: a study of the 17-19th century courthouse houses in Cairo and Damascus.”

This connection between Murdoch and Rabbat raises the possibility that Murdoch himself orchestrated the Park Service investigation into warnings about his own design. Rabbat denies knowing Murdoch, but given the blatant dishonesty of what he told the Park Service, that denial cannot be trusted.

Rabbat lied about something that every practicing Muslim knows

Rabbat’s first “major talking point” (from the Memorial Project’s White Paper, towards the bottom) is a blatantly dishonest excuse for why the Park Service should not be concerned about the almost exact Mecca orientation of the Crescent of Embrace. A crescent that Muslims face into to face Mecca is called a mihrab and is the central feature around which every mosque is built. Rabbat assures the Park Service that because the Mecca orientation of the Crescent of Embrace is inexact, it can’t be seen as a mihrab:

Mihrab orientation is either correct or not. It cannot be off by some degrees.

Absolutely false, and Rabbat certainly knows it. This goes to the most basic principle of mosque design: that all mosques are expressions of Muhammad’s prototype.

Muhammad’s original mosque in Medina was not oriented precisely on Mecca. It was built to face Jerusalem. Later in his career Muhammad changed the direction that Muslims were to face for prayer (their qibla direction). Instead of facing north from Medina to Jerusalem they were to face south, towards Mecca (Koran 2.142-145). To effect this change, Muhammad just started using the southerly wall of his mosque as his “qibla wall” instead of the northerly wall, even though this wall had not been built to face Mecca.

In the abstract, Muhammad held the qibla direction from Medina to be “south.” But Mecca is not quite due south from Medina either. Thus both in practice and in the abstract, Muhammad was not particular about an exact orientation on Mecca, and in Islam, what is good enough for Muhammad has to be good enough for everyone. He is the model.

This leeway to face only roughly towards Mecca for prayer is not some obscure bit of doctrine. Every practicing Muslim knows that qibla orientation does not have to be exact because they all have to avail themselves of this allowance pretty much every day as they seek walls that are oriented not too far off of Mecca which they can face into for their frequent prayers.

Rabbat just flat out lied about something that every practicing Muslim knows, and this is an expert in Mosque design. He knows better than anyone the historic leeway afforded in Mecca orientation.

Is Rabbat the source of Patrick White’s foolishness?

Rabbat’s dishonest report to the Park Service may explain an amazing argument made by Patrick White, Vice President of Families of Flight 93. At the July 2007 public meeting of the Memorial Project, White argued in a private conversation that the almost exact Mecca-orientation of the giant crescent cannot be intended as a tribute to Islam because the inexactness of it would be “disrespectful to Islam.”

At the same time as White was privately making excuses for the almost exact Mecca orientation of the crescent, he was telling the newspapers that the Mecca orientation claim was false and preposterous, so he certainly cannot be absolved. But it is possible that he himself was misled about how Muslims would regard an inexactly oriented mihrab.

The Memorial Project received Rabbat’s comments about a year earlier, and Patrick White certainly had access to them. It seems likely that when White said that an inexact orientation on Mecca would be “disrespectful to Islam,” he was following Rabbat’s “can’t be off” lead.

The crescent design also includes an exact Mecca orientation

If Nassar Rabbat actually read the information that Alec Rawls sent to the Memorial Project, he would know that in addition to the physical crescent, the Crescent of Embrace design also includes a thematic crescent, defined by architect Paul Murdoch himself. The upper tip of this thematic crescent is the point where, in Murdoch’s explanation, the flight path breaks the circle. If this thematic or “true” upper crescent tip is used to define the orientation of the crescent, then the crescent points exactly to Mecca.

If Rabbat really thinks that exactness is what matters, he would have been alarmed to see that this thematic crescent is oriented exactly on Mecca. Instead, he ignored it.

The Park Service already knew about the Mecca orientation of the crescent

The Park Service’s other Islamic scholar, Kevin Jaques, did the same thing as Rabbat. He admitted the similarity between the giant Mecca oriented crescent and a traditional Islamic mihrab, then concocted a blatantly dishonest excuse for why the Park Service shouldn’t be concerned about it. Jaques assured the Park Service that there was no reason to worry because no one had ever seen a mihrab this big before:

Thirdly, most mihrabs are small, rarely larger than the figure of a man, although some of the more ornamental ones can be larger, but nothing as large at the crescent found in the site design. It is unlikely that most Muslims would walk into the area of the circle/crescent and see a mihrab because it is well beyond their limit of experience. Again, just because it is similar does not make it the same.

If Jaques and Rabbat were willing to engage in such blatantly dishonest excuse-making, why did they start out by admitting that the giant crescent was geometrically close to a perfect mihrab? Because the Park Service already knew that the giant crescent was oriented almost exactly on Mecca, and that a crescent that Muslims face into to face Mecca is the central feature around which every mosque is built.

Advisory Commission member Tim Baird would admit this explicitly in 2007, but it was obvious much earlier. What the Park Service wanted when it conducted its internal investigation in the spring and summer of 2006 was excuses not to be concerned about these damning facts, and that is what Jaques and Rabbat provided. Similarly for the egregious Daniel Griffith, the “professor of geospatial information,” who told the newspapers that “anything can point to Mecca, because the earth is round.”

The Park Service knew this was all fraudulent. Griffith’s “anything can point to Mecca” and Rabbat’s “it has to be exact” were complete contradictions of each other, but the Park Service gladly embraced both as excuses to pretend that there was nothing to worry about.

If these government functionaries were this desperate for a cover up, it is certainly plausible that they would accept any help they could get from Paul Murdoch. Not that it is hard to find radically dishonest, America-hating academics, but these three frauds are outliers even by worst standards.

More dishonest excuse-making from Rabbat

Rabbat’s next talking point is more of the same dishonest excuse-making:

Besides, in the US, a debate has been going on as to which is the right Mecca orientation: the one going through the North Pole or the one that follows a flat representation of the globe.

The orientation “through the North Pole” (55.2° clockwise from north, to be precise) is the great-circle direction to Mecca. This great circle direction to Mecca is the orientation of the Crescent of Embrace (almost exactly), and it is the direction in which almost all Muslims pray.

A few dissenters pray in the rhumb-line direction to Mecca (the direction of constant compass heading, which spirals down the globe in an east-southeasterly direction from North America). Rabbat pretends that the existence of these few dissenters somehow makes the whole matter of the Mecca oriented crescent a non-issue.

If anything, the debate over qibla direction shows the flexibility of the qibla direction, giving the lie to Rabbat’s earlier assertion that mihrab orientation “can’t be off.”

Rabbat certainly knows that the great-circle direction to Mecca is the dominant qibla direction. (It won out over the rhumb line direction for the very good reason that a person facing in the rhumb-line direction to Mecca is not actually facing Mecca, since the rhumb-line follows a curved path.) But don’t worry about a little thing like the crescent facing in the dominant qibla direction. Rabbat has plenty of lame excuses why you don’t need to care.

Tom Burnett’s call for a Congressional investigation

The Park Service won’t say how they came up with Griffith, Jaques and Rabbat so we have to force them. A lot of People must be forced to answer these and a lot of other hard questions, and the only way to do it is to heed Tom Burnett’s call for a Congressional Investigation.

Stop the Memorial Blogburst

If you want to join the blogroll/blogburst for the Crescent of Betrayal blogburst, email Cao at caoilfhionn1 at gmail dot com, with your blog’s url address. The blogburst will be sent out once a week to the participants, for simultaneous publication on this issue on Wednesdays.

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Mary Bomar’s fraudulent investigation

In April 2006, Park Service Director Mary Bomar ordered an internal investigation into claims that the planned Flight 93 Memorial is actually a terrorist memorial mosque, built around a giant Mecca-oriented crescent. Bomar’s investigation was a total fraud, concluding, for instance, that it isn’t possible to calculate the orientation of the crescent because the site-plan has not been geo-referenced. (Page 2, PP2 of September 2006 summary report. Page 1 here.)

In fact, the original Crescent of Embrace site-plan was drawn on a topo map that the Memorial Project provided to all participants in the design competition. A topo map is the epitome of a geo-referenced map. North marked on a topo map is true north, which is the only piece of information needed to calculate the orientation of the crescent. Just connect the tips of the crescent, form the perpendicular bisector, and calculate how many degrees it points from north (53.4).

Also known are the crash-site coordinates, which is all that is needed to calculate the direction to Mecca (55.2° clockwise from north). All of this is trivially easy to verify. Just use the Mecca-direction calculator at Islam.com to get a graphic of the direction to Mecca from the crash site and place it over the crescent site plan:

Giant crescent pointst to Mecca

Somerset PA is ten miles from the crash-site. The “qibla” is the direction to Mecca. Red lines show the orientation of the crescent. The crescent points 1.8° north of Mecca. (Click for larger image.)

A request for oversight

Because it is the director’s office that has been covering up the Mecca-orientation of the crescent, oversight can only come from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne himself. Several people sent letters to Secretary Kempthorne two weeks ago, showing how the giant Mecca-oriented crescent remains completely intact in the so called redesign. But Mr. Kempthorne also needs to know that he is getting bad information from his subordinates in the Park Service. Thus a request for all readers of this post: if you have a minute, please copy and paste this entire post into an email for Secretary Kempthorne.

We don’t need for the secretary to understand all the terrorist memorializing features in the design, or the numerous proofs of intent that architect Paul Murdoch included so that his accomplishment will be undeniable once it is a fait accompli. It is enough that he be concerned about features that can be readily interpreted as terrorist memorializing, whether they are intended or not. As Congressman Tancredo put it: we need “a new design that will not make the memorial a flashpoint for this kind of controversy and criticism.”

But even getting to the most basic facts about what is in the present design requires getting past Mary Bomar’s fraudulent report, which tries to pretend that there is nothing that can even be interpreted as untoward.

Mary Bomar’s intellectually dishonest “experts”

In addition to claiming that topo maps are not geo referenced, Mary Bomar’s internal investigation cites a small number of academic experts, all of whom spout nothing but the most absurd non sequiturs. One is Dr. Daniel Griffith, professor of “geo-spatial information” at the University of Texas. About Alec Rawls’ analysis of the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent, Dr. Griffith writes:

… Mr. Rawls’s arithmetic calculations appear to be correct … [but] … just because calculations are correct does not make the resulting numbers meaningful.

Dr. Griffith’s point, it seems, is that the mere fact of Mecca orientation does not imply intent. Who said it did? The way Murdoch proves intent is by repeating his Mecca orientations (scroll down to the last section here). But intent is not the only thing that matters. Even without terrorist memorializing intent, it is inappropriate to plant a giant Mecca oriented crescent on the crash site.

The Memorial Project knows this, but it is committed to defending the crescent design, so it keeps using its doubts about intent as an excuse for denying the facts. Dr. Griffith, for instance, is telling every reporter who will listen that there is no such thing as the direction to Mecca. “Anything can point toward Mecca,” he told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “because the earth is round.” One billion Muslims face Mecca five times a day to pray, and Griffith pretends there is no such thing as facing Mecca!

Of course he knows better. The first thing that Griffith’s report does is calculate the direction to Mecca:

I computed an azimuth value from the Flight 93 crater site to Mecca of roughly 55.20°.

Dr. Kevin Jaques, specialist in Islamic sharia law from the University of Indiana, acknowledges that the Mecca-oriented crescent is similar to the mihrab around which every mosque is built, but says:

…just because something is ‘similar to’ something else does not make it the ‘same’.

Yes, well, similar–very, very similar–is exactly the problem.

Like Daniel Griffith, Mr. Jaques is trying to make hay of the fact that Mecca orientation does not by itself imply intent. So what? Intentional or not, it is unacceptable for the central feature of the Flight 93 memorial to be a geometric match for the central feature of a mosque. Jaques is pretending that the questions he raises about intent somehow make the facts irrelevant.

Professor Jaques also dismisses the likeness between the Mecca-oriented crescent and a traditional Islamic mihrab by noting that lots of religious structures have prayer-direction indicators, not just mosques:

The biggest hole in [Rawls’] argument is that all of the elements he points to are common architectural features that one would find in a church or synagogue. The mihrab originated in pre-Islamic buildings and can be found in temples, churches, and synagogues around the Mediterranean.

This is logic? Because Christian churches are often oriented to the east, that somehow makes it okay to build the Flight 93 memorial around a half-mile wide Mecca oriented crescent? If this is “the biggest hole in [Rawls’] argument,” then there are no holes in Rawls’ argument.

Project spokesmen know the truth, and are lying about it.

Memorial Project spokesmen have followed the lead of these academic frauds, using doubts about intent as a pretext for denying the facts. Asked about Rawls’ Mecca orientation claim, Patrick White, vice president of Families of Flight 93, denied it:

Rawls’ claims are untrue and “preposterous,” according to Patrick White, Families of Flight 93 vice president. “We went through in detail all his original claims and came away with nothing.”

In fact, Patrick White is fully aware of the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent. At the Memorial Project’s public meeting in July he argued that the almost-exact Mecca orientation of the giant crescent cannot be intended as a tribute to Islam because the inexactness of it would be “disrespectful to Islam.”

Joanne Hanley has done the same:

Alec Rawls bases all of his conclusions on faulty assumptions,” said Joanne Hanley, the superintendent of the Flight 93 National Memorial. “In addition, the facts are twisted and people are misquoted, all to serve his intended purpose.”

But she too has admitted the Mecca-orientation of the giant crescent, telling Mr. Rawls in a 2006 conference call that she wasn’t concerned about the almost-exact Mecca orientation of the crescent because: “It isn’t exact. That’s one we talked about. It has to be exact.” (Crescent of Betrayal, download 3, page 145.)

These are your subordinates Mr. Kempthorne. Please do not let them get away with this fraud. Congressman Tancredo is demanding answers from Director Bomar and many of us are hoping that you will do the same. There is not much time. Construction on Paul Murdoch’s terrorist memorial mosque is about to begin.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

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