But this is The Onion, and Gentries doesn't actually exist. And yet he does. Lately, he appears to be alive and well here in Middle Tennessee. Seriously, this quote sums up the worldview of the community center's mad-dog opponents:
"All Muslims are at war with America, and I will resist any attempt to challenge that assertion with potentially illuminating facts," said Gentries, who threatened to leave the room if presented with the number of Muslims who live peacefully in the United States, serve in the country's armed forces or were victims of the 9/11 attacks themselves. "Period."
"If you don't believe me, wait until they put your wife in a burka," Gentries continued in reference to a body covering worn by a small minority of Muslim women and banned in Turkey, Tunisia and Syria. "Or worse, a rape camp. That's right: For reasons I am content being totally unable to articulate, I am choosing to associate Muslims with rape camps."
The willful ignorance this parodies is utterly immutable — and as proven lately, very dangerous. Like Gentries, rather than seeing for themselves that the overwhelming majority of Muslims just want to get along in this country like the rest of us, the easily stampeded listen to Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the opportunistic former lobbyist who has affixed her name to opposition here in Tennessee, and to shrewd pols like Lou Ann Zelenik, who expertly use fear to whip the base. The arson over the weekend comes as no surprise.
Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, essayist, mathematician and historian, once said, "It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."
"It really put fear into the community," mosque spokeswoman Camie Ayash says. "Our children are heartbroken. When we broke ground a few weeks ago, they could see the new Islamic center as something that was tangible, something that was going to happen. Now someone had so much hatred to rip the joy out of their hearts."
Not long ago one morning, as I was getting up at the ungodly hour of 6:15 to walk the dog, I was shuffling around in my bedroom trying to find where I had last flung my overalls when some movement out the window caught my eye.
It was three little kids from across the street getting on the bus. To go to school. To go to the school I was about to walk my dog to.
Now, there are two crucial reasons why I walk to the school (or let's be honest, most days, halfway to the school). One, I don't have to cross Clarksville Pike. They would have to cross the highway with traffic at a speed of 55 miles an hour without so much as a crosswalk, let alone a light, at Lloyd. Two, there are no sidewalks until you get halfway up Lloyd. So: no sidewalks to bring them to a place to cross Clarksville Pike, and no sidewalks once they get across Clarksville Pike.
Is it really less expensive to drive a kid around for an hour on a bus every day (for as long as that kid is in elementary school), multiplied by all the kids in my neighborhood who should be within walking distance of school, than to put in some sidewalks?
Don't get me wrong. Of all the places in town that should get sidewalks, I figure my part of town should be towards the bottom.
But every time I see those kids getting on that bus, I wonder how many places around town something similarly stupid is happening — and whether we'd be better off making it easier and safer for those kids to get to school themselves.
I'm talking a state with a suspiciously Islamic sounding name, maybe sits on a Gulf full of oil, perhaps even has a town called "Arab."
That's right — Alabama. Or should I say "Al-Abama?"
There was a veritable Rassle Royal in the Scene editorial hallway last September when Ron Hall's book Sputnik, Masked Men, & Midgets: The Early Days of Memphis Wrestling arrived in the mail. (I managed to make off with the only copy after unleashing the legendary Slaughterin' Silverman Sledgehammer on my nemeses, er, co-workers.) I even recommended it as the ideal holiday gift.
Well, the folks behind the book are nearly done with a documentary on the subject, Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin'. And to raise the funds needed to complete the project, executive producer Sherman Willmott (who also edited the book) has turned to Kickstarter, where fans and supporters can contribute to help bring the film to fruition.
For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, D. Patrick Rodgers wrote about it in our Innovations Issue a couple of weeks ago. Here's an excerpt, which gives you the basics:
Pith thinks it's worth noting that in just about every case, groundwater that was upgradient (or upstream) from the power plants was found to contain contaminants that were below detectable levels. If drinking water quality is the standard used in the report, as TVA claims, then the groundwater is generally safe before it reaches the coal ash ponds. Yet somehow the TVA spin doctors expect us to believe that the metric is unfair when, downgradient (or downstream) from the same power plants, the concentrations of arsenic were, in one case, 52 times more than acceptable limits.
Clearly, it's simply too much to expect that our groundwater be remotely drinkable. What's terrifying about this report is that it's unknown how many groundwater wells exist around these power plants, and whether or not they're filtering the water. Apparently, neither TVA nor the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation would release this information. Either they didn't have it, they claimed, or they couldn't release it due to the Tennessee Terrorism Prevention Act — you know, since obviously Osama bin Laden has rural Tennessee's water supply in his crosshairs. Allahu Akbar, New Johnsonville!
Here are some highlights:
If there were two things I could have taken back during the campaign, it would be those two actions. I had worked so hard to establish credibility and maturity. Those actions hurt me but they weren't fatal. Corker needed more. He was becoming more and more desperate because of the tight polls.
What did Corker do? According to Ford, the Republicans decided to play the race card:
We got word that Corker's desperation had triggered a reversal in strategy. They were going to launch an all-out assault with race being the organizing and consistent theme.
That new strategy produced the notorious "Call Me" TV ad, among other attacks, Ford writes. More in this week's Scene, including how Ned McWherter refused to do a TV ad that Ford thinks might have saved his candidacy.
Board of Regents vice chairman Bobby Thomas answers questions about the process used to hire the system's next chancellor and admits that changing the job description gave John Morgan "considerable edge" over other candidates. Watch Sen. Bill Ketron's interview on this topic here.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen will leave office in a few months with no shortage of accomplishments to his name. Not among them will be his defense of the way the Board of Regents rigged its selection process for chancellor so that Deputy Gov. John Morgan would slip effortlessly into the job.
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