Josh Barro at NRO has the most complete statement I’ve seen of the conservatarian case for not opposing the Cordoba House project, either by public or by private action. Barro cheats by introducing facts, with their notorious liberal bias: in Lower Manhattan, two blocks is a long way but thirteen stories is not a large building.
So much of the complaint about the mosque has centered around the idea that, because hijackers acting in the name of Islam attacked the towers, Muslims should maintain a respectful distance. But the developers of Cordoba House (why do I even need to say this?) are not terrorists and did not attack the towers. Placing a burden on all Muslims to keep their institutions out of the Financial District is unfair.
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.
The similarities to the Schiavo case are growing, with non-mouth-breathing conservatives out of office starting to notice that their side is behaving very, very badly. The Schiavo affair had lasting benefits. A number of people – John Cole of Balloon Juice, for example – suddenly figured out that their then-playmates included a large number of vicious lunatics, causing them to rethink their entire political stance. That was true even though – then as now – many Democrats showed something less than a profile in courage.
Maybe Barack Obama’s political instincts haven’t deserted him, after all.