Last week was tough because friends of mine were experiencing difficult times; they still are. But I was so impressed with the way communities leapt forward to offer condolences, prayers, food and literally, the shirts off their backs. It made me proud to be a part of the different groups of people here in East Tennessee.
This week, I’m attempting to prove that all people in Tennessee aren’t closed-minded bigots.
There have been many Facebook conversations about the so-called Ground Zero mosque. It’s not at Ground Zero and it’s not even a mosque but people who benefit from inciting fear are squawking awfully loud that “they” shouldn’t be allowed to the “that”. “They” is a group of people who want to build a community center and “that” is, well, build a community center. Never mind the community center isn’t going to be on the site of the World Trade Center, it’s two blocks away and you can’t even SEE Ground Zero from the site of the community center. This “solemn” area that many are up in arms over, is not a sacred space filled with monuments to those that lost their lives where loved ones pause in reflection and prayer, it’s actually a busy and diverse city district. You can no more call it a “Ground Zero Mosque” than you call the deli a block away, the “Ground Zero Deli” My personal favorite is the “Ground Zero Trashy Lingerie Store” or the “Less-acclaimed Ground Zero Strip Club” differentiating it from the “Ground Zero Strip Club”, but I digress…
We’ve been having our own uproar over the placement of a mosque in middle Tennessee. It seems many of those who proclaim to support the Constitution, really only support it when they are afraid someone “wants to take away my guns!” and not the VERY FIRST AMENDMENT! Well at the end of August, someone decided to set fire to the construction equipment at the site. Seemingly normal people rationalized that “we couldn’t yet say if it was arson or a hate crime, maybe it was just vandals”.
I think that’s what disturbs me the most. I expect we’ll always encounter extremists that do horrible things in the name of their belief system; I just don’t expect for the seemingly rational to excuse it or sometimes, as in the case of the community center in New York, even lightly endorse it.
In the last week, the home of a lesbian couple was burned to the ground. Arson is suspected since the word “Queers” was spray-painted on their garage door. This happened less than 40 miles from my home.
Today, a burned Quran was found on the steps of a nearby mosque. It seemed to have also been shot with a shotgun.
At 2.2 miles, this hate is getting a little too close to home.