My answer to these statements are:
-Please define what the minimum-safe distance for a Mosque should be. How far is far enough? What determines that?
-Please point out the exceptions to Freedom of Religion in the Constitution. The last time that I read it, it did not mention the words "Islam" or "Muslim" at all.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave an excellent speech on August 3rd defending the rights of the Islamic community to build and worship as they please. The full text of his speech can be found on here on the Wall Street Journal. I find myself inspired by a politician. Color me surprised.
I've also heard the term "Hallowed Ground" used in regards to this issue. So, in response to this argument, photographer Daryl Lang created a photo essay of the neighborhoods as far away from Ground Zero as is the Park51 Community Center.
He says better than I can:
Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric.
At this point the only argument against this project is fear, specifically fear of Muslims, and that’s a bigoted, cowardly and completely indefensible position.
UPDATE: Mr. Lang has posted some of the feedback that he has received.