Don't Ask, Don't Pray Five Times a Day?: I believe ThinkProgress broke the story over the weekend of State Rep. Rick Womick of Rutherford County calling for a purge of Muslims from the military. Here's the video:
Every citizen should be concerned about this kind of rhetoric. It inflames existing stereotypes and suspicions and it also inspires legislative proposals. Do I think any kind of bill banning Muslims from the military would pass or, if it did, pass constitutional muster in the courts? No, of course not. But I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a resolution had been filed in the General Assembly urging Congress to administer loyalty tests and the like.
I also look at this issue through the prism of the recent Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, which social conservatives fought for years (some still are fighting it). If you can ban a whole class of people from the military, you can reinforce the argument that they aren't patriotic citizens and that some of their other rights can be taken away. Circular logic, to be sure.
And that brings us to...
Civic Pride: The constant stream of embarrassments emanating almost weekly from our red state officials is a strong inducement for many of us to retreat into the refuge of our cities. Our cities aren't perfect by a long shot. They have petty squabbles, minor scandals, budget woes, etc. But they tend not to cause nearly the same level of angst in the area of human rights and human relations as our state officials. At this point, it's far easier to get Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community involved in city politics than it is in state politics because we can see positive results flowing directly from our actions like the election of Lee Harris to the Memphis City Council. We're not giving up on the state by any means, but it's nice to have a refuge from the storm. Beyond politics what we are beginning to see in Tennessee's larger cities is that our open participation in the ordinary life of the city is not some revolutionary act. It's just business as usual.