I've been pretty depressed about this huge furor over building a mosque two blocks north of ground zero. I guess I wouldn't have minded so much if the sum total of the issue was confined to those residents in Manhattan and some minor mention of it in some of our national newspapers. But for it to dominate the national conversation is depressing. It reminds me a bit of what happened with the Terry Schiavo case. Our politics has become a game of simply winning political points and not a serious endeavor to improve our country.
Anyway, with that said, this National Review article makes a case that opposing the mosque construction is simply not conservative.
"Second, the proposed mosque would not be located 'at' Ground Zero, but two blocks north of it. So, any federal overlay that restricts development would have to cover not just Ground Zero but an area around it. Again, it is hard to come up with a policy rationale: this area is part of one of America’s busiest office districts, characterized by over a century of high-rise development and redevelopment, which we hope to see continue.
It’s hard to see a justification for 'preservation' other than as a pretext to interfere with the mosque. But the use of allegedly broad zoning restrictions to prevent a single project is inconsistent with the rule of law. (Besides which, when zoning or similar restrictions are used as a pretext to block a religious institution, that violates the First Amendment.)"
"As an aside, I think that some of the concern over this mosque, especially among people who do not live in New York City, is based on a misunderstanding of the geography of Lower Manhattan. This is an area that had significant high-rise development before New York imposed setback requirements and floor-area ratio maximums (limits on how many square feet of building you can put on a lot). As a result, the area is denser and more canyon-like than Midtown.
This means you can be two blocks away from something without any sense that you’re near it. City Hall is four blocks from Ground Zero, but you’d never stand there and think 'I’m right near Ground Zero.' There is even a strip club three blocks south of Ground Zero, but nobody seems to have noticed that it is sullying the memory of the place."
and finally this:
"Furthermore, since Islam has 1.2 billion adherents and is not going away, it is important to set reasonable guidelines that promote harmony with Western society—such as, it’s okay to build a mosque in the Financial District, and it’s not okay to blow up buildings in the Financial District. A general policy of exclusion is unworkable."
But, unfortunately, our country is anything but reasonable right now... sadly.