For a couple of weeks, conservatives have been in outrage mode about plans for a Muslim mosque to be built in New York only a few blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Liberals have been the main defenders of the mosque, arguing that religious freedom means freedom even for unpopular religions. I honestly don't see how this argument is going to sway a single conservative. The religious right is, let's face it, the Christian right. They are in favor of religious freedom, but the only religion they define as such is Christianity, with the occasional tip of the hat toward Judiasm. Other so-called religions don't deserve any protection or recognition in America because they are so self-evidently absurd or evil that to call them religions taints the word.
You can waive the banner of religious tolerance in front of the conservatives, but it's not a flag that they are ever going to salute. However, I'd like to see some of the conservatives who oppose the mosque respond to a completely different defense: People who own property should be free to use it for any legal purpose they wish. Presumably, the Muslims who want to build the mosque own the land or have a legal lease to it. I haven't heard anyone saying that use of this land was a gift from the city or the state, nor has it been reported that they've occupied the land by force. I know that there are Christian churches in this area, and presumably the new mosque must meet the same zoning requirements that the churches do. So, if they are using their property for a legal enterprise, what gives the government the power to step in and deprive them of this right? And, if conservatives are truly in opposition to the mosque, may I suggest that, instead of protesting or trying to rezone, they simply dig into the deep pockets of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and make an offer to buy the property themselves? This would be the free market solution instead of the authoritarian government solution. They could erect a giant museum there, the Museum of Right Thinking Conservatives that could serve as a shining beacon for the enlightenment of mankind. Just stay away from the men's room if any senators are in town.
If there's one bedrock principal that conservatives are supposed to defend, it's private property rights. If they aren't willing to defend these rights now, do they actually mean anything at all?