There is a difference between believing the New York City mosque and Muslim community center should not be build at the location it is proposed and in advocating the government should prohibit it from being built at that location. I don't fault anyone who expresses an opinion that they find a Mosque build at that location to be offensive. I don't fault anyone from trying to persuade those who are building the Mosque to move it elsewhere. One has a right to be offended.
There are a lot of things that offend me. Thankfully our freedoms are not dependent on not offending people. Thankfully our liberties are not subject to an opinion poll. Hopefully, the Constitutional right to freedom of religion and property rights will trump the desire of others not to be offended.
Fortunately, most responsible conservative are not advocating banning the construction of the Mosque even if they do find it offensive. In an August 16 editorial, National Review Online stated that "no reasonable opponent of the project contests the right of Muslims to worship as they please in this country -- the First Amendment religious rights of Muslims never have been in question, at all." They go on to say , it "is unseemly and ill-considered." And, "That position in no way implies a disregard for the First Amendment."
Pamela Geller writing at Atlas Shrugs says, "The very idea of a 15-story mega-mosque on hallowed ground is indecent, offensive and outrageous." She goes on to say however, "No one has suggested abridging the first amendment to stop the mosque."
The Wall Street Journal writes, "The government has no right to stop imam Feisal Abdul Rauf from developing the abandoned Burlington Coat Factory at 51 Park Place into a 13-story complex of classrooms, auditoriums and a mosque under the name of Cordoba House. Even opponents of the mosque concede this point."
I wish National Review, Pamela Geller and the WSJ were right, but unfortunately, there are other leading conservative who argue that because the area around "ground zero" is so scared that the construction of the Mosque should be prohibited.
"When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated," writes Charles Krauthammer.
Pat Buchanan, while not as explicit as Krauthammer, likewise makes an argument that banning the construction of the Mosque is appropriate and says, "When developers tried to build a mall next to the Manassas battlefield, many who had kinfolk who fought and died in that war blocked it, including Jody Powell, Jimmy Carter's press secretary. They did not fight development because they opposed private enterprise, any more than those who blocked the licensing of a casino beside Gettysburg battlefield did so because they dislike gambling."
I am not buying the argument of Krauthammer and Buchanan. If a church or temple could not be prohibited from being build on that site, neither should a Mosque. I agree with Mayor Bloomberg who said, "The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right (to build the mosque)– and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another. "
While Krauthammer and Buchanan can make a semi-plausible argument for banning the Mosque without coming off as bigoted leaders of a mob willing to abandon the constitution, ordinary people are not as nuanced in their pronouncements or as smooth in hiding their real feelings. I talk to people all the time who view the Muslim faith as the enemy and every Muslim as a potential terrorist. Every Mosque is seen as a planting of the flag of conquest.
Here are some excerpts from chat group postings I just read today:
It's about flaunting their conquering of The Trade Center. Why do you think they chose this location? Why do you think they chose the name "Cordoba"? It's obvious that they want to rub our noses in their victory. If they build at that location it will be seen by tens of millions of Muslims as a validation of the 9/11 attack done in the name of Islam. I believe it is clearly intended as a provocation.
The fact that we as a group are having to prove all of this is frightening. There should be no gray area. Muslims are honor bound to kill anyone who refuses to convert to Islam. Period! Islam is not a religion. It is a political group with punishments for failing to obey. Like stoning, raping, murdering, sawing off children's arms, throwing acid on the faces of women, chopping off hands. There can be no gray area on this. A devout, sincere, friendly, charming, upstanding Muslim will have to kill you, whether they want to or not. If they don't....they will be killed. So beware of those around you. Remember that they are honor bound.
OMG! I can't believe that the President of the United States would back the building of a "conquest" mosque at Ground Zero. I am stunned!…and next week Obama is honoring three Muslims soldiers at the Pentagon…What about all the other men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan? Obama has made it perfectly clear where is loyalties lie, and it's not with the American people. I am still in shock…this is unbelievable!
The above comments are not isolated. I am with people every day who think just like that. Even if one accepted the argument that due to the special significance of "ground zero" that government would be justified in stopping construction of a Mosque at that particular site, what is the argument for stopping the construction of a Mosque in Brentwood, Murfreesboro or Antioch Tennessee?
When hundreds march in Murfressboro demanding that the construction of a Mosque be stopped simply because it is a Mosque and when a leading candidate in a U. S. Congressional race supports them and when a leading candidate for Governors expresses doubt that Islam is really a religion entitled to First Amendment protection, I fear that our constitutional protections are very fragile.
There are those who view every one of the 1.8 billion Muslim in the world as an enemy dedicated to our destruction. They think it is impossible for a Muslim to assimilate and be good Americans. They think followers of the Muslim faith are immune to the forces of modernism and moderation.
I am not at war with Islam. I agree with President George W. Bush when in the wake of 9-11 said:
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. In 1942, 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were rounded up and placed in concentration camps. Since then, our government has apologized and most Americans have been embarrassed by this injustice. I am not so sure we have any greater respect for our liberties and the Constitution now an we did then.