Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Anti-Gay and Anti-Muslim Bigotry Run Rampant in Tennessee

The insanity and no longer thinly veiled hate and animus of the Tennessee GOP towards those deemed "other" by the white conservative Christofascists who constitute the base of the GOP not only in Tennessee but across the nation has reached new heights.  The GOP controlled Tennessee legislature has already done all in its power to demonize and stigmatize gay Tennessee citizens.  Now the focus of hate has shifted to include Muslims - who the Tennessee GOP is depicting as advocates of not only Sharia law, but terrorism as well.  The Chattanooga Free Press reports on this latest GOP hate fest.  Here are excerpts:

Gov. Bill Haslam is facing a tremendous amount of heat from Republican and tea party activists across the state. No fewer than five resolutions are currently circulating urging the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee to take meaningful action against the Haslam administration. A political organization plans to purchase ads condemning the governor. Some grass-roots activists are even calling for his resignation.
His crime? Hiring the most qualified person for a position.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's new international director is from Waverly, a small town just west of Nashville. Most recently, she served as a White House fellow, one of our nation's most competitive and prestigious honors for a young professional.

She also worked as an associate attorney at Hogan Lovells, one of the most respected international law firms in the world. Before that, she clerked for a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. She is a tae kwon do champion and a volunteer for the YMCA, AIDS efforts and an organization focused on addressing diabetes. Her bachelor's and law degrees are both from Vanderbilt.

She also happens to be Muslim.

The resolutions, which also condemn Haslam for allowing "open homosexuals to make policy decisions in the Department of Children's Services," declare that the governor's actions have caused a loss of "confidence in our Governor during an election year."    The Stewart and Carroll County resolutions call for the state's Republican leaders to take "appropriate action against the administration of Governor Bill Haslam."

Samar (pronounced "Summer") Ali is, quite simply, one of the most talented, accomplished people Tennessee has produced in decades. After several years working internationally, and completing the White House Fellows program, she wanted to return home to Tennessee. With ECD wanting to expand its focus on increasing exports of Tennessee products, the 30-year-old got that opportunity.  When Ali was named international director for ECD, it prompted a handful of local loons to go berserk. The resolutions came shortly thereafter.

Some of this silliness is the fault of Republican lawmakers in the state legislature who, rather than using their hard-won majority to advance ideas of liberty in the Tennessee General Assembly, have focused far too much effort on silencing religious minorities and limiting the rights of gay Tennesseans. As a result, a small number of local activists feel empowered to criticize the governor for hiring religious minorities and not firing hard-working gay state employees.

It simply isn't necessary for Republicans to pander to racists, homophobes and bigots to garner votes and win elections in the Volunteer State.

Hiring the best person for a job -- regardless of that individual's race, religion or sexual orientation -- does not make Gov. Haslam a villain. It makes him wise.  Criticizing Haslam for hiring the best person for a job -- because of the individual's race, religion or sexual orientation -- does not make you a patriot. It makes you a bigot.

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