My instinct tells me that the people who want to build the mosque have a right to, as I support property rights and such. Conservatives don't support it because of the WTC attack, and they have a point. A mosque on Ground Zero can be offensive, because 9-11 was inspired by radical Islam. But thinking about it, a person should have every right to build whatever he wants, wherever he wants. Personally, I wouldnt do it, because it sparked a lot of outrage, and I don't want to upset or offend people, but the fact remains: I still have the right to build it.
UPDATE-- After carefully reviewing what was written, I am here to close the question. The general consensus essentially says that we should not look the individuals who want to build the mosque by the religion they are a part of. That would be a form of collectivism. We should base our decision on whether or not they should build the mosque on their individual qualities. Since we do not know what their intentions may be, it would be the correct, moral, and rational thing to give them a chance, and let them build the mosque. They have committed no crime.
Objectivists I respect greatly have come down differently on this issue. It is a difficult issue, a borderline case. Rick's answer is very good, but I think it is important to point out that we cannot give you an "Objectivist" position on this one because Objectivists disagree so much about it. Compare this and this with this and this (and many others).
answered Jan 21 '12 at 17:50
The questioner has updated the question as of 4/24/12, stating:
After carefully reviewing what was written, I am here to close the question. The general consensus essentially says....
The question is not closed. Only Greg can close a question, and he has very rarely (if ever) done so. Furthermore, the questioner's "careful review" evidently overlooked an excellent answer by Eric and an associated comment on it. Eric's answer provides some very important web links to a strongly expressed viewpoint differing sharply from the questioner's "general consensus." Whether consciously intended or not, the questioner's attempt to "close the question" without mentioning the minority viewpoint noted in Eric's answer reads like an attempt to silence the opposition. That may be why the questioner is here, but I am here to break the silence.
The essence of the opposing view (as I understand it), is expressed most strongly by Leonard and Amy Peikoff -- the view that religion of any kind is an extremely harmful influence on man's life and a serious long-term threat to civilization. Leonard Peikoff has said that he will elaborate on this view in far greater depth in his forthcoming book, expected to become available later this year.
The opposing view also builds on the concept of a "wartime context" and the ways in which any "emergency" (such as war) changes the principles that would normally apply in peacetime. Americans, led by political leaders and their intellectual backers, tend to underestimate the extent to which the West is already at war with religion, especially with militant Islam, whether the West chooses to recognize it or not. The militants have declared war on us. They have engaged in horrific acts of war against the U.S. and other Western nations, such as the 9/11/01 attacks. They remain determined to continue to do so, to the maximum extent that they can. They are motivated ideologically by the religion of Islam, and the ideological center of that religion today is the theocracy in Iran. Iran, in turn, has continued moving relentlessly to acquire nuclear weapons and will surely use them as soon as possible. The year 2012 may well turn out to be the pivotal year when military action against Iran can be delayed no longer, to stop Iran from acquiring and using nuclear weapons (and perhaps to remove the entire theocratic regime in Iran as well). It has already been reported in the press that Israel is fully ready militarily to act against Iran as soon as the Israeli government gives the approval.
Whether or not one sees any connection between Islam in Iran and an Islamic mosque very near the location of the 9/11/01 attacks depends on one's view of Islam in general. Is it a "great religion hijacked by extremists," or is the militancy inherent in the religion itself? Is that too much for Enlightenment Christians in the U.S. to "swallow," despite the highly destructive history of Western Christianity over many centuries (including the Inquisition)? 2012 could prove to be a pivotal year for these issues, with Islam's relentless march for expansion and overt or covert conquest, and with an incumbent U.S. president running for re-election in the midst of major economic issues at home and abroad.
Given the seriousness of the situation, I do not want to see the "minority view" given such short shrift as the questioner apparently seeks to do.
Update: A State of Emergency
In a comment, the questioner mentions: "Objectivists hold the idea that the majority have dominance in society...." This is not the Objectivist view at all. Objectivism opposes domination by the majority.
The questioner continues: "when the minority have power, there is tyranny." Together with the previous formulation, this formulation expresses a false alternative: dominance by a majority, or tyranny by a minority.
Objectivism advocates neither dominance by a majority nor tyranny by a minority. Objectivism advocates a system of individual rights -- under metaphysically normal, non-emergency conditions. Ayn Rand's article, "The Ethics of Emergencies" (VOS Chap. 3), provides the main discussion of emergency situations that I know of in the literature of Objectivism. The essential excerpt from that article can be found in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Emergencies." The excerpt begins:
It is important to differentiate between the rules of conduct in an emergency situation and the rules of conduct in the normal conditions of human existence. This does not mean a double standard of morality: the standard and the basic principles remain the same, but their application to either case requires precise definitions.I recognize that there is much room for debate about how the ethics of emergencies would apply to a situation where a nation's leaders have managed to mitigate the worst, most pressing aspects of an emergency for more than a decade, and have lulled the American people into thinking that militant Islam is just a case of a few extremists acting on their own, to be sought out and "brought to justice" like ordinary criminals. But the fact is that the terrorists do have state sponsors and will strike again if they can find any possible way to get past our current defenses (defenses, incidentally, which have themselves become increasingly intrusive and rights-violating). It may be only a question of time before the next attack occurs.
It is not entirely clear from Ayn Rand's article if she intended war to be included in the category of an emergency. Most of the article pertains to the issue of someone who is not in an emergency, helping a stranger who is. There is also a brief mention of "lifeboat situations" near the end of the article (and a somewhat longer statement on "lifeboat questions" in Ayn Rand Answers, pp. 113-114).
If anyone doubts that a wartime context is different from a peacetime context and makes some curtailment of some rights necessary, ask yourself why we have airport security checkpoints (and similar measures) mandated and run by government. There are alternatives, but simply elminating the government checkpoints without acting decisively against the source of the terrorism would surely be even less practical than the checkpoints, offensive and intrusive as the checkpoints are.
As for the significance of the Islamic connection represented by the "Ground Zero Mosque," my original answer above provides a brief indication -- not just any mosque, but that mosque, in that location.
(It also seems that today the project has been greatly "watered down," relabeled as primarily a "cultural center," delayed considerably in the schedule for its eventual completion, with its essential mosque functions buried more deeply within the overall project, and with an entirely new religious leader for the project. Most of the controversy, as I understand it, grew from the original concept of what it was to be. Yet the fundamental Islamic nature of it still persists, and its location remains unchanged, just two blocks from Ground Zero and close enough for the former building to have been seriously damaged by debris from the 9/11/01 attacks.)
My previous answer relied too much on external arguments and sources to be clear on its own; let me try again.
My view on this is that it is not morally correct to use physical force against people who simply believe in a particular ideology, no matter how corrupt or dangerous that ideology may be. Only certain actions should be illegal, never belief. In fact, freedom of belief is a human right, and should be protected.
In addition, I think it’s a mistake to judge people by their membership in certain groups alone, rather than as individuals. Group membership is the collectivist approach. People can be members of groups for all sorts of obscure reasons and their actual beliefs may have nothing to do with why they are a member. Plus, presumed (or falsified) membership in some group is a tool of oppression that’s readily used by tyrants and would-be tyrants.
I think part of the solution to issues like whether it's OK to build a mosque or not are to be much more rigorous and objective with the enforcement of crimes such as fraud, conspiracy and threats of violence. For example:
Belief by itself should never be criminal, otherwise you start down the ugly path of “pre-crime” and “thought crime.” Only actions should be criminal. The common law tenets of actus reus (the guilty act) and mens rea (the guilty mind) must still apply in any legitimate government.
In applying these principles to the Ground Zero mosque, we can start by observing that several of its key proponents have very likely committed crimes. Hisham Elzanaty has supposedly given money to the terrorist organization Hamas, through a front organization. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has made statements that are threats of violence or incitements to violence. Given the standard Islamic anti-American vitriol, I suspect that if we look closely it wouldn't be hard to find evidence for conspiracy, aiding and abetting, misprision of felony and/or providing material support to enemies of the state.
So, should they be allowed to build the Ground Zero "community center" / mosque? IF the information published about their actions is correct, then No. Property rights exist as an extension of the right to life. Like all rights, property rights are contextual and limited. IF someone threatens your life, directly or indirectly, they lose their rights, including property rights. If anything, they should be investigated, and if they've committed crimes, then in addition to being prevented from building the mosque, they should be prosecuted.
Interesting article at PJ Media about Imam Rauf and his background (includes extensive references).