It appears that for a principled defense of property rights, the exercise of religion in America, and limited government we have to turn to ... liberal blogger Kevin Drum
We already know that a large majority of Americans are opposed to building it, but here are the results of an Economist poll on a slightly different question:
Whether or not you think the Islamic cultural centre and mosque should be built near the World Trade Center site, do you think that Muslims have a constitutional right to build a mosque there?
Technically, I think the wording of this question should have been turned around: not whether Muslims have the right to build a mosque on Park Place, but whether the government has the constitutional right to stop them from building a mosque on Park Place.
Still, I think everyone probably understands what this means, and it's just depressing as hell. It's one thing to oppose the mosque just because you don't like the idea, but to deny that Muslims even have a constitutional right to build it? That should be a no-brainer. Of course they do.
Seriously, this is from a man who probably does not think you have the Constitutional right to choose your own doctor. Why are Republicans ceding the high ground on this to Democrats? Well, it turns out that is the theme of my new column this week in Forbes.
...prospective mosque-banners would argue that I simply don't understand how utterly, deeply offensive the proposed location of this mosque is to them. But that is not the case. I am offended as well by what might be a laudatory memorial to a terrorist incident. But the question for me is, do we have a right not to be offended?
The irony is that for the last decade or so, conservatives have fought the political correctness movement over exactly this issue. Conservative commentators, rightly I think, were up in arms over the "hate speech" trial of Mark Steyn in Canada, and more recently the cancellation of Ann Coulter's Canadian speaking tour. In both cases Canadian government and university officials argued that Steyn's and Coulter's criticisms of radical Islam were too divisive, too defamatory to Muslims, and in general too offensive to be allowed public voice....
This is what truly floors me about the Ground Zero controversy: Republicans all over the country are standing up and begging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama to void the property rights of a private entity, shut down the construction of a church, and do so to protect some mythical right not to be offended, a right that, until recently, conservatives argued did not exist. Do Republicans really want to encourage the federal government to tear up property rights and First Amendment protections, all in the name of hurt feelings? If conservatives set this precedent today, they are almost certainly not going to like how it is used tomorrow.
Postscript: I notice something in this poll that I have seen several times lately. Traditionally, poll results for independents always fell somewhere between Republicans and Democrats. In this poll, as in several others I have seen, Independent responses actually fell outside of these bounds. Increasingly independents are shedding the "moderate" label and actually pacing the two political parties. I find this encouraging, though it is probably too much to hope for that this is the leading indicator of some type of radical ideological restructuring of the Coke and Pepsi parties.