Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight — who just won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for criticism — wants to demolish Trump Tower in New York and create a coronavirus memorial, or “plague column,” in its place.
Christopher Knight made the bizarre recommendation in a recent L.A. Times essay, saying that Trump Tower symbolizes a “social pestilence” that needs to be eradicated. In the article, he outlined a few hypothetical scenarios for the high-rise building, which is located on 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
“Trump Tower… could be seized by eminent domain,” he wrote. “Repurpose the entire building for public benefit, or demolish it and let a new plague column rise in its place. Few things are more pressing than eradicating the social pestilence symbolized by the place.”
(Full disclosure: I was a reporter at the L.A. Times and worked on the same team as Knight. Moreover, I sat in a cubicle next to his.)
The article argues that Trump Tower at 56th Street and 5th Avenue provides the ideal location for a “plague column.” “At that notorious intersection, the potential for poetic justice is most resonant,” Knight wrote.
He added the coronavirus pandemic represents “the colossal failure of our New Gilded Age society, where the top-down, winner-take-all philosophy of the last 40 years has been complicit in shredding America’s hard-fought advances in equality and social justice.”
The critic, who is a virulent Trump hater who regularly tweets his loathing of the current administration, provided no alternate locations for his hypothetical plague column. Nor does he mention China’s role in covering up the severity of the coronavirus outbreak or the Chinese Communist Party’s subsequent disinformation campaign to blame the U.S.
On Monday, Knight was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, the highest honor in his profession. In its citation, the Pulitzer committee praised his series of articles criticizing the renovation of the L.A. County Museum of Art.
His writing demonstrates “extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission,” the committee wrote.
This year’s awards have come under fire for honoring the New York Times‘ 1619 project — a series of articles that sought to reframe American history around slavery. Nikole Hannah-Jones’s Pulitzer-winning essay has been criticized by historians for its inaccuracies, particularly her assertion that the Revolutionary War was fought in part to preserve slavery.