British Journalist Mugged by Twin Tower-Rebuilders

A hapless British journalist was jumped and his article about the rebuilding at the WTC site was hijacked by a band of Rebuild The Towers soundbite whores during a recent visit to New York City. James Westcott published his account of the incident in the Guardian, but it appears he has no idea what happened to him.

The number of guerillas is not known. Activist groups such as Team Twin Towers and Make New York New York Again claim wide "populist" support, but most attacks can be traced back to one man, John Hakala. Hakala's tactic of delivering seductively glib quotes that have no basis in reality is now well known to veteran reporters on the WTC beat.

Westcott's story on unresolved issues and conflict over development efforts at the WTC site was turned into a disturbing manifesto for rebuilding the Twin Towers that betrays the faulty reasoning, impractical banality, and logical inconsistencies of the guerillas' position. One "architectural activist" seeking "restoration" of the Towers criticizes the Freedom Tower: "We are replacing a symbol of world peace and human cooperation with a self-absorbed salute to America," says an "architectural activist". Yes, echos another, "They [the Towers] were us: stark capitalism, power and beauty without explanation or apology."

And Hakala points out the fatal flaw of the Childs/Libeskind-designed Freedom Tower: "You don't see it on a single mug, T-shirt, postcard or pin around the city."

Observers who wonder how a seasoned journalist like Westcott could be so vulnerable suggest he let his guard down after reading a cryptic outburst of support for rebuilding by controversial Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp. Meanwhile, guerillas may have interpreted Muschamp's reference to "Mnemosyne" as a secret code to trigger the attack. Muschamp has since been relieved of his criticking duties.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: June 13, 2004.

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