The furor over the “Ground Zero Mosque” (which is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero) doesn’t make me very optimistic about the prospects for liberty.
As a libertarian and just a live-and-let-live kind of guy, I can’t imagine caring much about, let alone vocally protesting, what someone is building two blocks away from me.
Yet apparently many of my fellow Americans are such busybodies that they’ll whine for weeks about something being built hundreds or thousands of miles away from them, in a city they don’t live in and probably won’t even visit. And many of the complainers are among the Tea Party set whom we are occasionally told are “libertarian,” even though they seem to hate Muslims and Mexicans and love war at least as much as they hate the federal government and love liberty.
Jonah Goldberg claims that the conservatives who object “mostly” recognize that the Muslims have a legal right to build their center. But what I hear on talk radio makes me doubt this. A common argument there seems to be that since “liberals” don’t care about the Constitution or property rights in general, they aren’t entitled to invoke them now — as though liberals somehow have the power to waive Muslims’ rights.
In any event, even if Goldberg is correct, it’s hard to imagine that the spirit of liberty resides in the sort of people who get so worked up over this sort of thing. The ease with which they’ve been distracted by this issue suggests that reducing government isn’t going to be their top priority once their team is back in control in Washington.