I have been thinking that it was time for me to weigh in on this issue, but I have been trying to spend a little extra time thinking carefully, since it's a complex issue. Be sure to read Les' commentary and watch the video he has posted for a more in-depth discussion of the relevant issues.
Essentially, my position begins with two fundamental parts.
- Every private individual (including organizations of such individuals) has the right to purchase land and build structures on that land, as long as doing so does not violate the rights of others to their own life, liberty, or property. Thus, Muslim individuals and organizations have the right to purchase land near the site of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and build a structure there.
- Decent people understand that building a mosque (possibly in the thin guise of a "community center") on that site will be viewed as a blatant attempt to deepen an emotional wound and assert a type of victory, as well as an attempt to establish another stronghold for an ideology that is wholly incompatible with the principles of liberty. (We have such a stronghold in Washington, D.C., of course, but that's another issue.)
However, we're not talking about just any religious organization. We're talking about a religious tradition that has a history of many centuries of implementing a core policy of violence and slavery, codified very clearly and without ambiguity in its canon of scripture.
Every religious tradition has negative elements in its history, from decadent warrior Buddhist monks in Japan to the decidedly un-Christian "Christian" Inquisition in Europe. In almost every case, however, those elements are the exception, and are certainly not the common thread running through the practice of the religion by the lay adherents. They are clearly not part of the canon of those religions, nor are they accepted as part of legitimate religious practice by adherents today. There are fringe crazies in each group, but they are clearly that: fringe crazies.
Islam presents something very different, however. Naturally, there are millions of decent, goodhearted, peaceful Muslims in many countries around the world, who view the violence and slavery perpetrated in the name of Islam and the name of Allah for many centuries with disgust, and either ignore the passages in the Koran that command violence and slavery or interpret them as non-literal and somehow merely symbolic. I have worked and associated with many of these good people myself, and view them as my brothers and sisters, just as much as the people with whom I go to church each week.
However, there are tens of millions of Muslims who do not take such a peaceful approach, but who have continued to implement the primitive ideology of violence and slavery, and who are actively working to dominate the world, not through peaceful missionary work which respects and supports the individual's full freedom to accept or reject their teachings without the threat of physical harm, loss of property and liberty, or death. The violent, power-hungry crazies are not a fringe group in Islam, but a powerful, active force that will stoop to any measures to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy. For those tens of millions--including the people behind the construction of the mosque near the site of the Islamic terrorist attack on the Twin Towers--Islam is a religion of death, first the death of any who do not bow to their wishes, and second, the death of those of their own beliefs whom they sacrifice so easily for their own gain.
This is not the simple building of a house of worship, something that should always be welcome in any community, but the building of something that has a very real possibility of being a home to the avowed enemies of our nation. I don't know that there is any legal or moral basis for officially preventing the building of the mosque, and I will staunchly defend the right of persons of every religious conviction to build their places of worship, but I believe that it should be monitored very, very closely as the real threat that it is.
It's unfortunate that decent, honest, and goodhearted Muslims, who would willingly do everything in their power to defend the life and liberty of a Christian or a Jew just as much as they would for other Muslims, have to suffer the stigma created by the choices of their less-peaceful fellow Muslims. However, the threat is real, there is a clear pattern of certain behaviors coming from certain profiles, and only a fool would ignore that fact.
Bill Whittle talks a bit about such fools in Surrender and Self-loathing: The Ground Zero Mosque Reality Check. (I wasn't able to embed the video, so click on the link.) The video is about 14 minutes long, and is very much to the point of the relevant issues, so I encourage everyone to watch it and share it with others.