As one of America's leading Libertarian thinkers, perhaps I’m always expected to give the "Libertarian answer" to every issue. But sometimes one has to speak not as a Libertarian, Republican or Democrat, but rather as an American- preferably a common sense American. The issue of allowing a mosque to be built in the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist tragedy is one of those times.
The answer is simple for a common sense American- I support religious freedom, as all Americans should. But this is not a case of religious freedom. Yes, Muslims can build their mosque virtually anywhere in America- despite 9/11…despite the Times Square bomber…despite plots by Islamic extremists to blow up the New York subway system…despite everything happening in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. That's what makes our country great. We do in fact support religious freedom. You can build a mosque virtually anywhere in America.
However, there are also the rights and sensibilities of others to consider in a free society.
Does "religious freedom" mean hate groups should build statues to Hitler in front of Jewish temples in America? Should Americans raise money to build Jewish temples and Christian churches at Mecca? Should Japan build a statue to the bravery of their pilots at Pearl Harbor? Should the U.S. build a statue to the bravery of our pilots at the site of Hiroshima? Aren’t those examples all about “freedom of expression,” "religious freedom" and property rights? Perhaps, but is it too much to ask for a little consideration and respect toward others?
This proposed building of a mosque on hallowed ground is an ATROSITY towards America. To build a celebration of Islam within steps of 9/11 does nothing to increase religious freedom…it inspires hatred, divides our cultures, and increases the odds of violence and hate crimes. Common sense suggests this mosque, being built in this specific location, is NOT being built as a sign of friendship between Muslims and Americans…but rather as a sign of the lack of respect…a belief in our weakness…and an attempt to embarrass and belittle us. The financial district of Manhattan is not a residential area with a large number of Muslim residents for the mosque to serve. Therefore common sense suggests that the only possible reason to build it there (rather than in Brooklyn or Queens where there are large Muslim populations) is to show Muslim contempt for Americans by building a monument to Islam in the shadow of the site of their greatest triumph over America.
It is an offense to build a mosque in that location- an offense to all Americans (including Muslim Americans), all Christians and Jews, all relatives of 3000 dead heroes at the World Trade Center.
Yes, private individuals and organizations have the right to build houses of worship with their own funds. But one has to wonder where the money is coming from to build a 15-story building on some of the most expensive real estate in the country. We Americans believe in the separation of Church and State. If it turns out that this project is sponsored by a foreign government — either directly or through a state-sponsored organization that engages in terrorism — than the idea of this being an issue of religious freedom is a sham and an argument can be made that our Constitution would actually prohibit this mosque from being built.
However, if this is privately funded by parties with no ties to a foreign government, I have to believe that we have enough people in this country who are offended by the prospect of a mosque at Ground Zero, that the money can be raised to buy this land at a fair price from the owners. I know I’d be the first to contribute to a foundation to keep this sacred land from ever being desecrated by a symbol of the very groups that attacked America on 9/11.
We can also put public pressure on the property owners to sell to this new patriotic foundation funded by Americans. We can organize massive protests, filling the streets surrounding this property with patriotic Americans concerned that the hallowed ground of 9/11 never be used as a political tool to taunt or embarrass the United States, or as a place to preach intolerance towards Americans. I, for one, am ready to fly 3000 miles to New York to join the protest.
These are the only rational answers for common sense patriotic Americans who still believe in a free society. In situations like this, none of us can afford to be Libertarians, Republicans, Democrats, or politicians of any stripe. We are all proud Americans.
Wayne Allyn Root was the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate. He now serves on the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) and as Chairman of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee (LNCC). He writes for the Las Vegas Review Journal and is a regular guest on FOX News. His new book is entitled, “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts.” For more of Wayne's views, commentaries, or to watch his many national media appearances, please visit www.ROOTforAmerica.com.