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This weekend, Barack Obama endorsed the plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero, saying that allowing the site to go forward is “what our country’s about.” George Washington and the Founders had tremendous foresight, but they never could have imagined a day when an American president would say something so stupid. Below are hypothetical remarks the president might have made if his views were more enlightened by patriotism than by contempt for his country and sympathy for her enemies:

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My fellow Amerians, as you know, a private Muslim organization has submitted plans to construct a mosque near Ground Zero. A great controversy has arisen over whether the mosque’s construction should proceed at this time, in this place, and under this leadership. Those who favor the Cordoba Mosque say we are not at war with Islam, that no one has tied its leadership to al-Qaeda, and that freedom of worship is one of our most cherished rights as Americans. Those who oppose building the mosque on that hallowed ground say that setting a Muslim prayer house on the ashes of the Twin Towers is unnecessarily provocative and will rub salt into the open wound of 9/11. They understand the triumph Islamic fundamentalists will feel at seeing the crescent rise from the ruins of the deadliest attack on American soil. And they fear under the wrong leadership, the mosque will serve as a recruiting grounds for jihadists plotting the next great act of domestic terrorism.

Americans are blessed above all people to live in a nation that respects the freedom of religion. Unlike so many nations ruled by the dictatorial clique of clerics and “holy men,” the United States has no enforced creed or compulsory church. The Christian men who founded this nation on the timeless values of the Old and New Testaments respected the freedom of conscience above all other considerations, and they enshrined the right to choose our own religion in the First Amendment of the Constitution. That means any religious group has the right to worship, in a house of worship.

That right does not imply, however, that they have a right to build a house of worship in every conceivable location. The sacred nature of this place, which became the final resting place of three thousand American citizens obliterated within minutes by 19 adherents of fanatical Islam, marks it as the wrong site for this project. For that reason, I am asking the supporters of this mosque to withdraw their bid.

Should they refuse, I will take all actions available to me to assure the bid does not succeed.

The issue here is not freedom of religion but freedom to worship on the grounds of the World Trade Center. Each state and locality has the right to regulate and zone the area under its authority for its best use in accordance with the law. Churches, synagogues, and private Bible studies have sometimes run into the problems of harsh or prohibitive zoning laws. Our new Islamic neighbors could not expect to be exempt from this.

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