Who knew that Tennessee was under threat from Muslim extremism? Perhaps one plucky Republican lawmaker finally has evidence that President Obama is a secret atheist Muslim fascist sent to destroy capitalism and teach elementary school children the Koran at the madrasas he’s setting up at all of the FEMA camps that Christian conservatives will soon be sent to. Maybe ISIS is setting up terrorist training camps just outside of Nashville and are plotting to destroy the country music capital, forever depriving us of songs about losing dogs, trucks and trailers? Or perhaps it’s just that a combination of voter apathy and watching too much Fox News has brought us this law from Tennessee designed to end the debunked “no go zones” that even Fox issued a rare apology for reporting.
Tennessee state representative Susan Lynn certainly believes that the creeping threat of Sharia law exists in The Volunteer State and has introduced a bill to combat it. The purpose of it reads, “Attorney General and Reporter – As introduced, requires the attorney general and reporter to report to the department of justice that a no-go zone exists within political subdivisions of the state; requires the attorney general to take all necessary steps to eliminate the no-go zone to enforce compliance with state and federal law. – Amends TCA Title 38, Chapter 3.“
Susan Lynn’s reasoning for the bill doesn’t specify Muslims, but when you read it, you realize it is implicitly mentioning them. In addition to that, the Senate sponsor of the bill is Bill Ketron who, as Right Wing Watch notes, once freaked out over a janitor’s sink in the state capitol because he thought it was a sink for Muslims to wash their hands in before prayers. From The Tennessean:
“You might find it with gang activity, you might find it with organized crime, and of course we have heard that there were some places where it is happening with certain religious groups,” Lynn said.
She never specifically mentioned which religious groups, but there has been a recent international fervor over the concept of Muslims allegedly banning people from going to certain areas. Fox News eventually apologized and acknowledged it made factual errors in allowing an on-air interviewee to claim that entire cities, like Birmingham, England, were off limits to anyone who isn’t Muslim, as the Washington Post reported.
The report is one of several that include well-known leaders like Louisiana’s GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal making allegations of “no-go zones” based on little more than anecdotal evidence. Lynn provided similar justification for her bill. She said she’s never experienced anything first hand but argued some believe such zones exist in Tennessee.
“There are some people who claim that there are some areas of Tennessee where they feel this is happening. And as you know, when there’s activity happening where people sort of feel intimidated, there’s not exactly a sign up on the wall,” Lynn said in a recent interview. “But its just an overall feeling of intimidation.” (Source)
The purpose of Rep. Lynn’s bill isn’t to correct a problem, it is to create an illusion of a problem which serves to play to the fears of people who are already paranoid and out of touch with social and political reality. What’s more, there are already laws on the books that would handle the non-existent issue even if it did suddenly pop up.
There haven’t been any documented “no go zones” in Tennessee, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend some country bars or gun shows if you plan on wearing your Obama/Biden 2008 campaign shirt. However, The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, does list 37 locations throughout the state including a bunch of KKK, Neo Confederate and Neo Nazi groups, 4 black separatist groups including the Nation of Islam, and even one listing for Tea Party Nation. While the Nation of Islam isn’t known as the most loving and tolerant of groups, there haven’t been any reports of them harassing Christians in Chattanooga or burning down BBQ restaurants in Memphis. However, if they do, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Now why do we report these things? Because thanks to a media that seems to thrive on reporting junk news like the Kardashians getting into a fender bender or the latest feud between celebrities well beyond their 15 minutes of fame, Americans are distracted from the things that matter. Too many people are apathetic and have bought into the “both parties are the same” message that is designed to keep everyone except libertarians and far right conservatives from voting. The far right isn’t just taking over in Washington, they’re doing it at the state level with many legislatures becoming little more than rubber stamps for conservative governors like Bobby Jindal or Robert Bentley. In Virginia, despite having a Democrat as governor, they have been unable to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare due to conservative lawmakers.
People have to be reminded on a daily basis that simply voting every 4 years for a presidential candidate changes very little, and signing Moveon.org or other petitions do little more than to sign you up for a ton of emails from candidates soliciting money. If we are going to move this country forward, we’re going to have to get people to start caring again and understanding how government actually works. Conservatives are engaged and enough of them know how government works to take control – it’s time we do the same.
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