In my article in the most-recent Freeman, I use an approach used by William Graham Sumner in his classic article, “The Conquest of United States by Spain.” Here are excerpts:

Something similar may be happening in the United States, not with foreign conquest but with our domestic freedoms. Two freedoms are at risk: The freedom to practice our religion and the freedom to use our property in any way that’s peaceful. This is not new, but what’s different are the people who are putting them at risk. Some Americans have attacked these freedoms because other Americans want to build, on property they have legally acquired, a center that includes Muslim prayer space. The Park51 center–prayer space, athletic facility, culinary school, auditorium, and art studio–would be two blocks from “Ground Zero,” where murderers flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center on that awful September 11, 2001. If the most extreme protesters succeed, they will have limited the religious freedom of Muslims and the right to use property peacefully.

Therein lie two ironies. The first, the kind highlighted by Sumner, is that if these opponents limit Muslims’ rights, they will make the United States a little more like some of the Muslim countries they abhor. A defining characteristic of many Muslim countries is their governments’ intolerance of religious freedom. The 2010 annual report of the U.S. government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom asserts that Burma, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam are “countries of particular concern.” Governments of these countries, says the report, “have engaged in or tolerated systematic and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.” Of these 13, seven–Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan–are countries with majority Muslim populations. The commission also put 12 countries on the “Watch List.” These are places where religious freedom is low, but not as low as the other 13. The 12 are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela. Of those, six–Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Somalia, Tajikistan, and Turkey–have majority Muslim populations.

Interestingly, as I point out in the piece, Newt Gingrich said that the United States should imitate Saudi Arabia’s approach to religious freedom. I wrote:

Although Gingrich was clever enough to say, “There should be no mosque,” rather than, “The government should not allow a mosque to be built,” his meaning seems clear. By invoking the Saudi government’s intolerance, he seems to be saying that governments in the United States should follow the Saudi model, in this case at least, and not allow the Islamic center to be built. My interpretation is buttressed by how he ends his article:

No mosque.

No self deception.

No surrender.

The time to take a stand is now–at this site on this issue.

And, ironically, who defended the Muslims right to build on their property? That noted defender of property rights, Barack Obama.

Update: Commenter Seth says below:

Who are these extreme protesters?
Perhaps they exist, but I haven’t been exposed to them and in these passages you provide no actual examples, except for a straw man of Gingrich’s position (“…he seems to say…”).

I can name two prominent protestors: Gingrich and Paladino. Not only did Gingrich say what he quoted him saying above, but also he later said, as I quoted in the Freeman article:

On September 10 Gingrich said that President Obama should “tell” Imam Rauf, the Muslim leader who wants to build the Manhattan facility, “don’t do it.”

I think most people would agree that amounts to having the U.S. president use his power somehow to prevent it. Moreover, check this Paladino ad.