National Review editorialized today against the so-called Ground Zero mosque. More than that: It urged a kind of secondary boycott, public protests against, any contractor or worker who works on the mosque. With this statement by the flagship of American conservatism, a full culture war is now joined. It’s a war that should have been refused.
Like the National Review editors, I remain skeptical that the sponsors of this mosque are quite as benign as they have been represented. The mosque’s funding sources remain mysterious – which ought to trouble anyone familiar with the history of foreign-funded mosques in the United Kingdom.
So there is reason not to relish the new project. But the rights guaranteed by the Constitution do not belong only to nice people. And whatever we may wonder about the mosque promoters, we should also remember the mosque’s users: the thousands of Muslims who work in lower Manhattan, every single one of whom is as entitled to pray as any member of Marble Presbyterian or Temple Emanu-el.
George Washington himself delivered the rebuke to those who would urge American Muslims to “refudiate” their right to worship freely.
All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens …
If there’s proof that the mosque promoters have failed to “demean themselves as good citizens” – bring it on. If not … these angry calls to mob action by those who call themselves “constitutionalist” are sad “refudiations” of their own professed creed.