Furthermore, he takes conservatives to task for allegedly not recognizing the important First Amendment implications:
There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?
If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.
The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.[emphasis mine]
The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.While I agree that the self-sacrificial neo-conservative effort to "nation build" in the Middle East is completely wrong, particularly the war in Iraq, I hold that Paul's more fundamental argument related to Islam as a religion is flawed and further, I believe this issue points to the crucial need for thinking in principle underscoring the important difference between libertarianism and a systematic philosophical defense of individual rights.
In my previous two posts, Is Islam a Religion? Part I and Part II, I attempted to refute the essence of the argument implied by Paul. In summary, I argued that since Islam urges its supporters to commit acts of violence and indeed has become a violent political and military force that has declared war on the West, it should not be construed as a "religion" in the Constitutional sense, i.e., a body of abstract ideas. In the context of war, those who sympathize or aid and abet the enemy commit an act of violence just as someone who urges another to beat or kill someone commits an act of violence even if he is not the one actually giving the beating. Such a state is analogous to how we should have treated Nazi's during World War II if they were to organize or recruit in the United States. All Muslims are not evil murderers just as all Nazi's and all Communists were not evil murderers, however, in the context of war, this kind of allegiance should be grounds for legal scrutiny based on the objective establishment of a group, nation, or networks' actions and professed intentions.
While one could debate the particulars related to the legal and practical application of the above principles, it is clear that this is the debate that should be taking place. For Paul to argue that Islam is only incidental to the 9/11 terrorist attacks or any of the various terrorist attacks against Western targets over the years or as incidental as their preference for "soccer," is a massive evasion. It is on exactly such grounds that anti "profilers" tells us that 90 year old grandma's are just as likely to be terrorists as young Muslim males leaving a madrassa run by the Taliban.
But why does Paul make such an error? Fundamentally, I believe it has to do with not grounding the concept of liberty in a more fundamental philosophic framework. To the libertarian politician, "liberty" is the fundamental concept by which all policy applications are evaluated. However, without a more fundamental basis, this concept becomes an out of context abstraction and it can not be properly applied except in the most trivial circumstances.
For example, objectively identifying threats and understanding what constitutes an act of coercion is essential to actual liberty, that is, the proper application of the principle of individual rights. If someone is walking around with a bomb and a bag of cash from the Iranian government, chanting "Death to America", could Paul not bring himself to usurp this man's "liberty" until he actually explodes the bomb? At what point should an organization be considered a criminal organization? At what point should another country be considered an objective threat? At what point should we declare war? Do they have to be in Manhattan harbor shooting at us before we take action? Of course, this is not a simple question and does involve a lot of legal philosophy, context, and evidence, but it should at least be clear that we should be debating these kinds of legal standards.
For Paul to simply dismiss these issues as "demagoguery" or a form of racism is not only wrong - it is suicidal.