“The simple fact is this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship.” Thus did New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismiss mainstream America’s objection to the building of a mosque at Ground Zero. The refrain echoed throughout the halls of liberalism: Like it or not, the proposed mosque is on private property, and private-property rights trump all else.
Really? Liberals will grind private construction to a halt on behalf of a threatened snail darter, but now they suddenly stand as misty-eyed defenders of private property? A rain puddle on private property is all the justification they need to declare that property a “wetland” and seize control of it.
The Left’s disdain for private property became official policy with the Kelo decision of 2005. In Kelo, five liberals on the Supreme Court changed the meaning of the Constitution’s “takings” clause so that government could seize private property, not just for public use, but for the benefit of other private parties whose agenda aligned with that of the government. The idea was that those for whom the property was seized might pay more in taxes than the rightful owners. The simple fact that the property was privately owned presented no barrier at all to the government’s agenda.
But when Imam Rauf wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero nine years after the murder of 3,000 Americans, liberals tell us that we’d better just get used to the idea because he has private-property rights.
Liberals have never allowed the Constitution or private property to stop them from doing whatever they wanted to do, so their sudden attack of legal scrupulosity fails to convince. Are we seriously to believe that liberal politicians in New York could not concoct some eminent-domain justification for seizing the property if they truly wanted to halt the building of the mosque? Are there no snail darters at Ground Zero? Are there no patriotic developers who will say to New York officials, “You exercise eminent domain under Kelo and we’ll take it from there”?
The only logical conclusion is that liberal politicians want the mosque built or, at least, that they do not object. But why would liberal politicians condone the building of a mosque that many mainstream Americans view as little more than a monument to the Sept. 11 hijackers?
Liberals exposed their true agenda when they began to darkly hint that mainstream Americans might be suffering from something called “Islamophobia.” They fretted that the prospect of that mosque rising above the graves of the Sept. 11 victims might have caused us to become mentally unhinged. Having led off with an implausible defense of property rights, liberals could not restrain the sanctimonious impulse that welled up inside. They fell into their habitual holier-than-thou posture relative to mainstream America. We should be more tolerant – more like them – they told us.
In response to the mosque controversy, Obama himself urged us to cling to that which is best in our country, our religious tolerance. His statement stands in sharp contrast to the unguarded moment in the campaign when he slammed mainstream Pennsylvanians as bitter people, as clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.” Evidently, tolerance for the imam is good, but, for citizens of Pennsylvania, not so much.
The liberal virtue of religious tolerance is as selective as their defense of private property. Around the country, liberals demand that the Ten Commandments be removed from local courthouses. In the small community of King, N.C., the city council recently took down a Christian flag from their veterans’ war memorial under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union. Liberals recoil and hiss like vampires at a sunrise service when they encounter any evidence of our Judeo-Christian heritage, but a mosque at Ground Zero becomes a soapbox from which to lecture the rest of us on the virtue of tolerance.
Liberals claim that the courthouses or memorials involved are public property and that religious displays are thereby prohibited, but that argument also fails to convince. After all, liberals once did defend the display of a Christian symbol supported with tax dollars. When an “artist” dipped a crucifix in a jar of urine and Christians objected to funding the “art” with our tax dollars, liberals showed no concern for sensitivity to the religious values of Christians. Instead, they lectured us about tolerance for artistic freedom and the evils of “censorship.” Concern about Judeochristophobia was tellingly absent from their lectures.
The true liberal standard in play here is simple and obvious: If something offends the unwashed mainstream masses, it is good medicine. If it offends the Left, it must be banned.
Tim Daughtry is a conservative writer, speaker and political consultant with Concord Bridge Consulting in Greensboro, N.C.