Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rich Corinthian Leather

Paul Mirengoff has a post at PowerLine featuring commentary from his cousin about controversial plans for a mosque two blocks from 9/11's Ground Zero in New York:

Plans to build Cordoba House, a 15-story Islamic Center two blocks north of Ground Zero, received a major boost yesterday when a Manhattan community board backed the proposal by a 29-to-1 vote. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the center would help "bridge and heal a divide" among Muslims and other religious groups.

Perhaps the Imam is sincere but I find the whole project an outrage. The name Cordoba House at best conveys a total insensitivity to the families of victims of the attack at worse it shows sympathy with the terrorist's goals. Cordoba, was the Capital of Al-Andalus the Islamic Caliphate that ruled much of Spain during the Middle Ages. One of Al-Qaida's main goals announced after the 9/11 attack was the restoration of the Cordoba Caliphate in Al-Andalus.

Mirengoff's cousin goes on to assert that:

The Project is said to cost $100 million and no one seems to know who is paying for all of this.

Personal Money Store Blog answers that question:

The building would be funded by the Initiative, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and donations. The land for the Cordoba House is already owned by the Cordoba Initiative and does not involve any zoning changes.

This is one of those issues that will divide the right. Assuming that Personal Money Store Blog is correct, that the building and land will be funded by private investment, then I see this as a clear cut case for religious freedom. In America, we have laws prohibiting our government from interfering with the free exercise of religion.

The fact that the initiative chose the name "Cordoba" may indeed be offensive and insensitive. However, offensive and insensitive speech and offensive and insensitive religion are constitutionally protected, as is the right to do what you please with your own property. I see this situation as a litmus test. If we fail to grant religious freedom and property rights in this case, then such rights are in jeopardy for all of us.