The Anti-Defamation League made its statement in opposition to the Cordoba Mosque nearly a week ago. Some of its reasoning is being echoed by others in opposition, including Dan Senor in today’s Wall Street Journal. Here is the final paragraph of the ADL’s statement:
Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.
The distinction between “rights”– as in what is legally or constitutionally permissible– and “right”– as in what is morally correct– is a helpful distinction. The next question is: what are the other elements in this situation, in addition to the conceivable pain that some victims will feel, that would help us assess what is the right thing to do? There is more to a moral judgment than calculating potential pain. More on this later. (See “Rights and Right– Part Two” for further moral reasoning on the location of the Islamic Center)