Kudos to Erik Bootsma for posting this New York Times oped to the TradArch list. Written by Ziauddin Sardar, The Destruction of Mecca describes the transformation of Mecca, of all places, into a modernist hellhole – led not by Western capitalists or even their modernist handmaidens but by the Saudi royal family and its leading clerics. What is described in the piece far outstripped my understanding of how Mecca was changing. Recall (as Sardar apparently has not) that Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers of 9/11, is said to have been motivated in part by his hatred for modern architecture. Hitler hated modernism, too, and thought it acceptable as a style only for factories. This should remind us that who loves or hates something has little bearing on whether it is good or bad. Founding modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe tried unsuccessfully, even with the assistance of Goebbels, to get Hitler to accept modern architecture as the design template for the Third Reich. That says a lot more about Mies and his concept of modernism than it says about Hitler. And maybe it leads us to wonder what 9/11 was really all about.
The question raised by this piece, after all is unsaid and undone, is why the supposedly fundamentalist Islamist Atta rammed his plane into New York City and not Mecca.