A Sane Voice at National Review

by Will on August 18, 2010

National Review’s Josh Barro has some sensible, sober-minded things to say about the current right-wing Moment of Hate over the “ground zero mosque”:

Conservatives rightly bristle at the federal government’s micromanagement of land in the American West, with the highest profile example being the closure of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. So why should we invite the feds into land use review in Manhattan? What New York allows to be built in its Financial District is not the federal government’s business.

What I find bizarre about some of the conservative response toCordobaHouse is not just the objection to the construction of the mosque, but the conviction that it should be stopped by any means necessary—even if that means violating conservative principles about property rights, rule of law, and federalism.

Just like the Terry Schiavo dust-up five years ago, this highlights something that I find frustrating in dealing with the political realities in this country: the things conservatives claim to be concerned about are not actually things they are concerned about. They claim that the institutions of a modern welfare state are impermissible, because the free market is sacrosanct and so is the federal separation of powers. But then when the market and the federal separation conspire to create an outcome they don’t like, those high principles just go out the window, and knee-jerk resorts to federal intervention ensue.
I don’t completely agree with Barro about land use, because I think there often is legitimate public interest in restricting certain uses. But I agree with him that the “ground zero mosque” is not an issue that merits our attention, that the principle of religious liberty should not be abandoned for cynical, short-term political gain, and that the overheated, hateful rhetoric we’ve been hearing does nothing to improve our relations with the world’s many, many Muslims.
On a related note, the Democrats’ wishy-washy statements on this issue, and unwillingness to take a firm stand, have got me more disgusted with them than I’ve been since the Schiavo thing. Their instinctive, self-destructive cowardice is astonishing to behold.

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