A second type of individual appears to have lined up to oppose the “Ground Zero mosque”: the liberal coward, whose refrain goes something like this (paraphrasing):
We can acknowledge Imam Rauf’s right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but why is now the time, and why is that the place? This will damage East/West relations. He should show his good faith by moving the mosque somewhere else, to allow a constructive dialogue to grow.
If we doubted the sincerity of the person making this argument, we’d call him a “concern troll.” As it stands, we can at least doubt his ability to assess causation. The flaw here arises because, by the time you ask the question about whether the center’s construction will damage East/West relations, it’s too late to avoid the harm. The center’s opponents had the last, best chance to avoid revealing this country’s latent strain of anti-Islamism; instead, they’ve done their best to whip it into a frenzy. Rauf can hardly be blamed for thinking, ten years later, we were ready to talk about Islam like adults, and a free nation shouldn’t be in the business of asking minorities to assume the risk of bigotry.
Now that this die is cast, and East/West relations already damaged, we need only concern ourselves with the best way forward. Do we evidence our country’s commitment to freedom, and the discomfort that sometimes entails, by rallying to the Little Guy, or throw him under the bus at the first sign of trouble? If we’re to take seriously the Bush era notion of “winning hearts and minds,” now seemingly abandoned by the right as quaint or at least contrary to a helpful election year narrative, the answer seems clear.