Exploring the Hubbub over the Ground Zero Mosque
This is not an issue for government and in the process brings up the issue of individual rights vs. collective rights. The mosque property was legitimately purchased and it is up to owners alone to decide how to develop that property. For some it is a negative reminder of 9/11, while for others it is a holy place of worship. The test of liberty comes when someone wants to do something that goes against your ethics or beliefs. As Ron Paul, Jesse Ventura, and others heading the freedom movement today have said; it is not popular ideas that need protection, but rather unpopular ideas. One of the major challenges of freedom is knowing you are not going to get your way every time, as any rational human being would know after living in this world for a day. Freedom lets us do what we like but at the same time we must tolerate actions and ideas we might not necessarily connect with. Voluntary exchange in a free market joins ideas and cultures together in a cooperative way that governments couldn’t dream to achieve.
As a vegetarian I don’t necessarily “appreciate” the display of meat on nearly every fast food outlet’s windows, but it doesn’t give me or the government the right to physically prevent the restaurant owner from operating and developing his property as he sees fit. My personal preferences, ethics, and morals are not used as an excuse to take away an owner’s right of using, developing, and advertising his restaurant. Every individual has different morals and beliefs, and it is not up to government to choose one way or another. Ideas must flow free, they cannot be compartmentalized and narrowed as the state often manages to accomplish with its endeavors. If I don’t eat meat, I don’t buy meat. The store still has every right to advertise as it sees fit, and I can choose for myself whether they have a product worth buying or not. Freedom is choice, you have to be responsible and understand that not everyone sees the world as you do.
Those passionately protesting the mosque are essentially asking government to interfere in private property in order to better serve the morals and values of the people of New York City. Government is the last entity you want organizing taste, morals, and ethics. If so many people are downright opposed to the mosque, the last thing that would be necessary is government intervention to block development of the land. Obviously the only way the mosque could productively survive is if people choose to worship there. As with any business or private organization in a free society, the final regulation is up to individuals. The fate of a project lies the hands of individuals, not central bureaucrats disconnected from society and reality. If the mosque is really being put up as an “in-your-face” to America by radical Muslims and no one actually wants to worship there, it’s going to take a substantial amount of money to maintain. An organization cannot survive without support, yet these protesters believe that once the mosque is built it will be there for good. It may be there for awhile, but only if it has legitimate support and consistent worshipers. Without support, it will be a financial burden to maintain. Such is the natural process of rewarding productivity in a free market.
This is no different than if a Christian church branch opened up exclusively for one-legged peach farmers. Such a church will likely fail because there aren’t many one-legged peach farmers to go around in the first place. If there is demand for a mosque in New York City, so be it. Obviously they feel there are enough Muslims in the area to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Are you really going to get so incensed because a group of people want to worship in a particular way? Such a misguided view of intolerance and discrimination is exactly what leads to the disintegration of freedom and liberty.
With our time, labor, and money we are “voting.” We support certain businesses and groups and withhold our money from other organizations. I choose not to support meat producers and instead make the choice to spend my money on vegetarian and meatless products. In a free market voluntary exchange based on individual needs and preferences keeps regulatory power in the hands of individuals. Government regulation uses collective force to take away individual power and choice and instead give it to a select few bureaucrats who are appointed to make certain decisions for the rest of the people. Whether it be the ability to confiscate income or make the final decision on the mosque at Ground Zero, the issue at hand is one of principle. Do we really want to entrust our power as individuals to bureaucrats who haven’t even been elected by the people? In a new age of creativity how does a powerful central government help the people more than it destroys their creativity, productivity, and natural organization? Government hinders freedom. Government blocks creativity. Government survives only through coercion, and that coercion comes at the expense of our lives, liberty, and property.
It is time that we choose liberty over government. It is time that we stop treating ourselves like children and acknowledge the risk and responsibility that inevitably comes with freedom, but it is a small price to pay to be free. Without this understanding in principle, the mosque protesters cannot expect to achieve anything worthwhile. Avoid the uncreative and coercive trap of government and choose tolerance, responsibility, and freedom!