CNN has a new poll revealing that 68% of Americans oppose the "Ground Zero Mosque" -- including 54% of Democrats, 45% of liberals, 72% of whites and 58% of non-whites.
But this is a case where you have to look at the question to understand what the poll means. The question:
As you may know, a group of Muslims in the U.S. plan to build a mosque two blocks from the site in New York City where the World Trade Center used to stand. Do you favor or oppose this plan?
When you ask the question with those words, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that you're going to find a lot of opposition. It's not just that it frames the issue in the same way that Republican have framed it, it's also that it completely sidesteps questions of tolerance and religious freedom.
The question didn't even explicitly ask whether people believed the government should intervene to outlaw the mosque; it merely asked whether people supported plans by American Muslims to build it. Those two questions are not synonymous.
CNN also didn't ask people whether they felt government should ban Muslims from choosing their own place of worship, nor did they ask whether all religious groups in America, even unpopular ones, deserve the same level of protection from the first amendment.
I'd have liked to see the answer to these questions:
Do you believe the New York City government should forbid American Muslims from building a private house of worship anywhere in the vicinity of where the World Trade Center used to stand?
Do you believe that every religious group, including the American Muslims building a house of worship two blocks from where the World Trade Center used to stand, deserves the same protection from the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty?
Or, even succinctly:
Should the government control who builds houses of worship and where they're located?
Those questions (or questions worded similarly) get at the core question which is whether or not government ought to ban American Muslims from practicing freedom of religion. You don't need to be an active proponent of building the mosque to also believe that the government shouldn't ban it. And assuming you don't believe government should ban it, it's not hard to see that the only motive for opposing the mosque is bigotry. And that then raises the next obvious question I'd love to hear people answer: do you support the Republican Party's bigoted attacks on people of the Islamic faith?