I’ve long since come to accept the fact that weird things just happen in New York City, a trend that’s only ramped up since Bill de Blasio became mayor. (It’s still not as weird as California, but they’re giving it the old college try.) But when this story broke at the New York Post yesterday, it seemed to be a case of taking weird to the next level. The subject at hand is a new statue that was erected in Brooklyn this week. At first glance, it didn’t seem particularly notable to me, but there are reportedly people wondering if it’s a monument to the terror group ISIS.
A new public sculpture in Downtown Brooklyn of a massive arm with the index finger pointed skyward is drawing a wide range of interpretations as to its meaning — with some observers even noting its similarity to an infamous ISIS gesture.
The towering bronze piece, called “Unity,” was funded by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and lowered by crane on Saturday to a median at the intersection of Tillary and Adams streets on the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.
“The 22.5 foot sculpture echoes the Statue of Liberty’s iconic gesture & captures the unique spirit of Brooklyn as a place of uplift & ambition,” the agency wrote in a tweet about the unveiling.
So help us out here. It’s a statue of a human arm with the index finger pointed skyward. How does that relate to ISIS?
According to a city preservation activist, the statue resembles an Islamic hand gesture representing the concept of Tawhid — “the oneness of God” — which is employed as a signal by supporters of ISIS. Todd Fine is quoted as saying, “Given the sculpture’s title and design, viewers will inevitably see the Muslim gesture representing Tawhid and the unity of God.”
Take a look and see what you think. (Click for full-size image.)
As most regular readers probably know, I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. (Probably more.) But I’m having a hard time with this one. I’ll confess that I’d never heard of “Tawhid” before now and had to Google it to understand what Mr. Fine was talking about. But it’s still really just a finger pointing upward.
People tend to see what they want to see. And there are only so many combinations of gestures you can make with the standard human hand, given the limited number of fingers we have to work with. This might be similar to the way leftists constantly accuse people of being closet white supremacists if they make the “okay” gesture by touching the tip of their index finger to their thumb. It’s meant “okay” for as long as I can remember, but now it suddenly means you’re in the Klan.
This statue was paid for with more than a quarter-million dollars of taxpayer money and it sits on public property, so there’s an obvious concern if it turns out to be some sort of endorsement of terrorism. But personally, I think you’ve got to be pretty far down in the weeds to look at this rather unremarkable statue of a human arm and immediately make the leap to “Oh, yeah… that’s ISIS.”
Now if the statue had a different finger pointed toward the sky… say the one next to the index finger, then we might have a bit of a public scandal. Then again, this is Brooklyn we’re talking about. A statue of a hand flipping the bird might actually be about the most appropriate gesture to display.