Want real diversity? You will need private property rights

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Sometimes, a great idea seems to come from all directions at once. I first saw the notion of building a gay bar next to the Ground Zero mosque at Newsbusters. A commenter wrote:

Time for wealthy investors to immediately open a Hooters, a Bob Evens pork sausage restaurant, A Curves gym, a Gay bar, a casino and whatever else can be imagined right across the street for this Moaque, on all four sides.

Typos and capitalization are in the original. But the idea — wow, it stands out anyway.

Maybe the magic of the Internet helped it along, or maybe it sprung up independently. Either way, the next time I saw it, the Ground Zero gay bar was becoming a reality:

As you know, the Muslim faith doesn’t look kindly upon homosexuality, which is why I’m building this bar. It is an effort to break down barriers and reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world.

The goal, however, is not simply to open a typical gay bar, but one friendly to men of Islamic faith. An entire floor, for example, will feature non-alcoholic drinks, since booze is forbidden by the faith. The bar will be open all day and night, to accommodate men who would rather keep their sexuality under wraps – but still want to dance.

Bottom line: I hope that the mosque owners will be as open to the bar, as I am to the new mosque. After all, the belief driving them to open up their center near Ground Zero, is no different than mine.

My place, however, will have better music.

Instapundit talked it up, and Andrew Sullivan held a naming contest, in which “Jihard” was a leading contender. Others were even less printable.

Now, I have a lot better things to do than to read the comments at Newsbusters. I only discovered the one above because I was googling a simple question: Isn’t there already a gay bar near Ground Zero?

In Manhattan, one never knows. That's just the kind of place it is.

That's also why I'm more confident than most about our struggle against militant Islam. I expect the idea of Manhattan to destroy the idea of intolerance.

Manhattan is a place where nearly everything sits cheek to jowl with nearly everything else — Christians of all denominations, Jews from Orthodox to Reform, atheists, Scientologists, pagans, straights, gays, blacks, whites, immigrants from who even knows where. It’s mixed up, but it’s beautiful in its way. In Manhattan you will never lack for art, food, conversation, love interests, or people to argue with.

Manhattan has something for almost everyone, except (I hope) for the tyrant. Yes, there have been some very misconceived nanny-state initiatives in New York City, but I'm hoping these won't be the way of the future. It makes little sense, for example, that you can build a mosque but not smoke in a bar or eat trans fats in a restaurant.

I may be wrong that tolerance is the way of the future, but here's why I'm confident. Christians don't want militant Islam to take over, because militant Islam would reduce Christians to second-class citizenship. Jews don't want it for the very same reason. American women? Let’s not even get started. Gays and lesbians (of which, hey, I'm one) want militant Islam least of all. For us, it’s a death sentence.

Though these groups are disunited, I'm hoping in the power of numbers and in the power of an idea that unites them — if it’s purely your own life, you may do as you see fit. That’s something we should all agree on, especially as we grow more diverse.

That idea, though, requires private property rights, and my greatest worry is that neither the left nor the right sufficiently appreciates these rights anymore. When we make “to build a mosque” a political issue, we have expanded the realm of politics itself, and the private realm shrinks. After that, “to build a synagogue” becomes political, too. That's just what our opponents want, and we already know how they'll vote.

We can't allow such a vote, whether for synagogues or virtually anything else. After my last column, I was asked many times why I was “for” building a mosque in lower Manhattan. The truth is that I'm not for building any mosques. I'm not a Muslim, and I don’t believe that Mohamed was even a prophet.

But what I am for is private property, and private property means I'm not always in charge. It means that the other residents of Manhattan, or of the United States, get their space too, where I don’t get to decide. That’s how we all manage to get along, whether we personally prefer to hang out in a mosque… or a gay bar, or a Hooters, or a Bob Evans, or…

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