Build a Monument to Capitalism

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The World Trade Center was conceived as a monument to capitalism. It was attacked because it was a monument to capitalism. And now various important folks, such as former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, are saying the site should simply be a monument — a monument not to capitalism but to what happened on September 11th.

The greatest monument to capitalism is capitalism itself. And the best way to thumb our noses at those who attacked the building and even to honor those who perished there is to create a combination of commercial buildings and a monument.

Part of bin Laden's self-avowed strategy was to bring down not just the trade centers but American capitalism. If we build only a memorial, we have handed him a partial victory.

I'm not saying rebuild the twin towers exactly as they were, or erect something even grander; that's a strategy of hubris. But build a unique and extraordinary monument combined with commercial buildings humming with business — that's a formula that does justice to all.

The frequent use of the phrase "hallowed ground" referring to the site comes in part from Lincoln's Gettysburg address, the most beautiful speech ever given by an American president:

"We have come to dedicate a portion of this field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract."

The heroes of 9/11 may have consecrated the ground of the World Trade Center more than any monument can. But the idea symbolized by the men and women who worked and died there was not so much nationalism but capitalism. We honor them in part by putting up the kind of monument that the World Trade Centers once were, a monument to capitalism.