A Tennessee commissioner's Facebook post, suggesting that Muslims are best viewed from behind a double-barreled shotgun, has frightened local residents and prompted calls for an apology.
However, Coffee County commissioner Barry West, who posted the image seen below, has refused to apologize, and fails to see what the big deal is all about.
West did not create this Islamophobic internet meme, but posted it to all of his constituents on his personal Facebook page. When critical calls came pouring in, he deleted the post, but refused to acknowledge the potential damage such a post could cause.
"It’s particularly troubling when elected officials post such Internet memes because they set the tone for how constituents should behave," said Drost Kokoye, an American Muslim Advisory Council board member. The statewide group was created to promote communication between Muslims and Tennessee law enforcement and government.
“This may just be a picture to him, but for us it is very threatening,” said Kokoye, an Antioch resident who has lived in Tennessee for 17 years. “Muslims in Coffee County should not feel safe to walk outside their homes.”
This post comes on the heels of numerous incidents of vandalism against mosques in Middle Tennessee in recent years, as well as opposition to a mosque that opened last year only after intervention from the Justice Department.
For Muslims living in Tennessee, it will take more than just intervention from the Justice Department. It will take a social uprising to combat those streams of Islamophibia running through American, making Muslim Americans feel anything but safe.