The argument that the proposed mosque near Ground Zero is an issue of religious freedom misses the point. We all agree that worship is constitutionally protected. The real question is, does anyone have the right to build a monument where ever they want to what they believe was a great military victory over the United States? Would the United States have the right, under private property laws in Japan, to build a monument to the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki on those sites? I think not.
The argument that this proposal will be a monument to a battle victory of radical Islam at Ground Zero has a lot of evidence supporting it. Certainly throughout history Islam has built monuments in the form of Mosques on the sites of many battle victories. Imam Rauf, the promoter, has said many things (you have heard them all) that supports that contention here. If this would simply be a place of worship with the added purpose to reach out to Islam's neighbors, why would the Imam fight for this particular sight? He would create a mountain of goodwill before even breaking ground if he went elsewhere. But if this is a victory monument, fighting for that location makes good sense. I think his refusal to change locations betrays his real motive.
To those who would argue we can not know what is in his mind, rather we can only guess at his innermost motives, I would agree. We can not know with absolute certainty, in fact we can not even know beyond a reasonable doubt. But knowing with that degree of certainty is not necessary for the state to exercise its authority. This is not a criminal case. Different standards of proof are intentionally set in different areas of the law. A civil case need not meet the standard of proof that a criminal case does. If the smell test were applied, this proposal would fail miserably. I believe that whatever standard is ultimately applied, the Imams own statements leave only one reasonable conclusion. The mosque should not be built.