I’ve been working too hard lately to follow the news as closely as usual, and one story I’ve observed from afar is the proposed mosque construction near Ground Zero in New York. I may well be missing something, since many on the right whom I respect greatly are adamantly opposed to the mosque. That said, I don’t get it.
Personally, I think the mosque idea is tasteless, inappropriate and perhaps sinister. But since when does my opinion matter? If they own the land and have the money, why can’t they build a mosque? Sure, there are zoning regulations, building permits and so on, but such regulations should be applied in a neutral and non-discriminatory manner. Assuming that under ordinary circumstances the construction would be permitted, I don’t understand why the fact that I and many others consider the project inappropriate has any relevance. This strikes me, in other words, as a pretty straightforward property rights issue.
Perhaps our readers will enlighten me as to what I am missing.
SCOTT explains: Sometimes in the good ol’ USA people have the legal right to do the wrong thing. I hope you don’t need our readers to explain why situating a megamosque at Ground Zero would be the WRONG THING to do.
In his open letter in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Dan Senor sought to exercise his powers of persuasion to prevent the owners and funders of the property (whovever they may be) from doing the wrong thing. So should we.
JOHN responds: It sounds like we basically agree. I don’t quarrel with Senor’s broad point; obviously, the fact that something is legal doesn’t make it good. But Senor’s argument only works if it is directed toward people who are operating in good faith, like the Pope. He is wasting his breath, in my opinion, directing that argument to the people who are behind the mosque. I don’t take seriously their claim that the mosque is all about inter-faith understanding.
In short, if there were a sound basis to block the mosque, I would favor doing so. But there isn’t, and appeals to the good will of those who are funding the mosque–whoever they may be–are so patently in vain that I would rather not make them.
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