Sunday, August 3, 2008

Embarrassed By My Fellow Tennesseans

Not all of them, mind you. Just the ones who are venting some serious anti-Muslim spleen over the Tyson Plant in Shelbyville.

The plant’s management negotiated with the workers union to allow the largely-Muslim workforce to take off the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr instead of Labor Day. Everyone should be happy, except for the anti-Muslim wackadoodles who can’t seem to get over the fact that a) there are a lot of Muslims in Shelbyville, TN; and b) the plant’s management is actually doing something to make their Muslim workers happy instead of, I dunno, flogging them daily and forcing them to eat pork rinds.

Over the weekend Kleinheider did a round-up of some local bloggers’ opinions. Some of the saddest ones include this one from Michael Hurtt, headlined “This Is How It Starts”:
This is a frightening example of incrementalism, the process by which groups achieve partial means to an ultimate end. For those who believe that the current fight in the Middle East is religious in nature, this concession by Tyson brings us one step closer to accepting Sharia Law as the law of the land in the U.S.

First they came for Labor Day, and because I had to work at the mall on Labor Day I said nothing ....

The funniest thing is to watch “free marketers” struggle as their economic philosophy does battle with their bigotry. For example, Six Meat Buffet:

On one hand I’m torn. A private business should be able to give everyone 365 days off a year if they want. On the other hand, replacing Labor Day for a holiday to placate the most violent, intolerant, misogynistic religion on the planet may not be the greatest idea.

Why, what a shining example of tolerance you display in that comment, SMB! Thanks for making my point for me.

The fact that most of the Muslims working at the Tyson plant are refugees from a war-torn country seems entirely lost on most conservative voices. Several people have wondered how so many refugees ended up in Tennessee to begin with. You can thank the State Department and its Office of Refugee Resettlement for that.

One of the things I have always treasured about this country is that we are a safe haven, a beacon of hope, to those suffering in poverty and strife in other parts of the world. Not, apparently, in Tennessee.

This makes me very sad. And I can't help but think what a poor image this gives the world of Tennessee. We're already perceived as backwards, racist, uneducated and toothless hayseeds. Today, GoldnI highlights that media narrative which brought CNN to Copperhill, TN to find people who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. She rightly points out you could find those people anywhere in this country. But a rural town in Tennessee is where CNN chose to go for its story. Gee, I wonder why.

So Tennessee gets another black eye. Our backwards image can't be good for business--who would want to move their corporate headquarters to a state like that? And it's something we constantly have to fight.


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I guess I missed the “except if you’re Muslim” line in that poem.