Obama has expressed his support for the "ground zero" mosque. For those who have missed the story entirely,
The Islamic center's leaders say they plan to build the $100 million, 13-story facility called Cordoba House three blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks. The developer, Sharif El-Gamal, describes the project as an "Islamic community center" that will include a 500-seat performing arts center, a lecture hall, a swimming pool, a gym, a culinary school, a restaurant and a prayer space for Muslims.According to Obama, the Muslims have a right to build a worship center on private land. And he is correct, they do have that right. However, that doesn't make it a good idea. And it certainly doesn't warrant a presidential "thumbs up".
Consider the case of the Westboro Baptist Church. Their members have been protesting at military funerals, holding up signs with slogans like "God hates America". A federal court recently ruled that they had the right to protest. But was it a good idea? The Westboro church members were trying to get a national platform for their message, and in that sense they succeeded. But they also alienated people so much by their gross disrespect they not get the message across, but incited hatred of their cause.
A church (mosque, synagogue, etc.) does not exist in a vacuum. It exists within, and to serve, a community. Obviously the Muslims living in and near lower New York need a place to worship and study. But New York is a small place, and it is easy to get around. Moving the center even a few blocks, or building something less ostentatious would have shown the community that their feelings were considered and respected by the Islamic community. In fact, the group turned down an offer to move the center to state owned land in order to keep it where it is. This is not the correct stance for a community center to take. It is the stance of someone trying to pick a fight with the community.
Additionally, Obama's support reeks of the bad judgment he showed in his "stupid cop" comments over the Gates arrest last year. The president should not be taking sides on issues being resolved in a city. When he does so, he is the 800 pound gorilla grandstanding for attention. In the same vein as the center itself, Obama had the right to make those remarks, but they were not a good idea.