On my first weekend after I moved to Philadelphia, when I was still uncertain about my decision to move there, I walked to the historic district and strode right into Independence Hall. The accessibility of history in Philadelphia, just lying about so casually, was one of the chief that factors changed my mind about Philadelphia. When I returned for a visit a couple of years ago, I was dismayed to see Independence Hall cordoned off, the goofy actors playing Ben Franklin replaced by glowering Park Service rangers.
Now Brad Maule at Phillyskyline.com reports that Independence Hall "is yet again being threatened with nauseating irony, trickled down through the sieves of bureaucracy as decided by Washington." The Park Service has decided to erect a seven-foot tall fence through the square where the Declaration of Independence was first read in public on July 8, 1776. The New York Times quotes Philadelphia mayor John Street describing the fenced-in Hall as "an armed camp." As Ed Rendell, the former mayor and current governor of Pennsylvania, says, "If I were a terrorist. I’d look at this plan and smile."
No kidding. The plan demonstrates, yet again, we've entrusted our national security to morons. Independence Hall Square is not only a lovely and historical place, but also an exemplary public space, without which we can't function as a democratic, civil society. Maule is right about the nauseating irony of the fence: the very place where Americans struck their most decisive blow against tyranny is sundered by one of the most authoritarian administrations in American history.