please pardon this ramble from 2AM
I'm increasingly bothered by the continuing fuss (not debate) over the Cordoba House, a.k.a "the ground zero mosque". As I mentioned before, this is a particularly strong exhibition of irrationalist xenophobic nationalism. The irrationalism of this whole thing is emphasized with how much energy is being harnessed for ... nothing.
I say that there is no debate (and all the agitation is focused on irrational feelings) because nothing can be done about the Cordoba house. There is nothing illegal about building it, and there cannot be anything illegal about it because to do so would blatantly violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Their donors are very unlikely to back out of this project (though maybe if the donor list is made public, they can be intimidated). In other words, there is no legal way to force the Cordoba House to shut down. In spite of this, a bunch of people are making this into a political issue.
I'm figuring that the politicians are just demagogues who have decided that they can ride this non-issue to power. Other organizers are probably more concerned with creating an "us vs. them" mentality (and constructing mailing lists). In that way, it reminds me of the anti-war protests that were held on the eve of the Iraq invasion (after the decisions had been made and the elections completed).
Anyway, there seem to be two semi-reasonable concerns related to the construction of this "mosque", and the general increase of Muslim influence in America. First, there is concern that foreign terrorists will be able to blend into these American Muslim communities. Second, is that Muslims will become a political force in some places, as they apparently have in Europe, and start demanding that we change our ways in order to not offend their sensibilities.
Neither of these concerns are totally reasonable for the basic reason that my fears do not justify the infringement of other people's liberty. It applies to gun ownership, just as it does to religious movements.
This second issue ties into some of the plans being laid by opponents of the mosque. Over at Free Republic, there is a semi-serious proposal to perform various "anti-muslim" acts in the vicinity of the mosque, from opening a gay bar, to a pork factory. Of course, these proposals are meant to explicitly antagonize the Muslims, in retaliation for the perceived insult of building a mosque near ground zero.
But we could also approach them as an issue of setting boundaries. We want to make sure that the congregation here doesn't start to think that the area around the building is their private property and that they can dictate what others do there (whether promote homosexuality, serve alcohol, process pork, or wear skimpy clothing).
There may be some benefit in making it clear that they have to tolerate us just as we are willing to tolerate them. After all, despite all of their liberal platitudes, the people building this mosque have political views that are on the far right of the American culture wars.