I was out in the garden picking tomatoes (and swatting mosquitoes who seemed to be getting more from my visit than I was) when the Channel Five helicopter began to circle overhead. Feeling certain I wasn't the object of their attention, I soon realized they were hovering over the nearby Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. This usually happens when there has been a significant event... like an arson attempt, or vandalism, or a visit from a washed up Saturday Night Live Islamaphobe with a film crew.
My first impulse was to grab my camera and drive a quarter of a mile north on Bradyville Pike to see what might be happenin', then I remembered the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and thought better of possibly driving into a SWAT team situation. The better course of action would be to check for news on the internet, so I fired up my lovely (and dangerous) wife's laptop (my computer is dead in the water... the result of its owner trying to get something for nothing and incurring the wrath of Bill Gates' Gestapo...).
So what was the stir? What brought helicopters to our peaceful little neighborhood yet again? The Murfreesboro Mosque had just passed its state building inspection and had been cleared for occupancy after two years of bullshit protests, litigation, and fear-mongering.
You probably don't get aerial coverage when your local businesses and churches pass inspection, but here in middle Tennessee we can make news out of any damn thing.
Anyway, I took a drive past the mosque and noticed the construction crews were still at it. Then I drove past a row of white crosses that lined the little two lane highway past the Grace Babtist Church, which is immediately adjacent to the controversial new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. Normally I don't pay too much attention to the yard displays at Christian churches, any more than I would be drawn to stare at yokels trying to pass off their clutter to one another by holding a garage sale in the neighborhood.
But these crosses... a neat row of large, white crosses along the highway, like tombstones or grave markers. I was intrigued. Thirteen of 'em. I counted on my way back home from the liquor store while listening to Glenn Beck on the A.M. radio. (personal note: I like to listen to Beck when I'm on a liquor run, and Limbaugh when I'm hauling trash to the dump. Keeps things in perspective)
There was an article in The Tennessean about those crosses. Seems the good members of the Grace Babtist Church had taken a vote. They decided to have someone construct thirteen crosses for them to put up alongside the highway as a way to remind Muslims to mind their manners. I guess. Actually, it's hard to say exactly what the crosses are meant to signify.
According to the guy who built the crosses, "It was more or less to make a statement to the Muslims about how we felt about our religion, our Christianity." Mack Richards went on to say, "We wanted them to see the crosses and know how we felt about things."
Oh, well hell, that clears it up, right? Want to know how we feel about things, you Muslims? Check out our crosses!
What does that say, exactly? That you think there are too many healthy trees in America, and some of them should be chopped down and sawed up for religious symbolism?
I think the congregation at Grace Babtist Church should be damn glad Christ was crucified two thousand years ago. If he had come to Earth in the 1960's, they'd have to hire ol' Mack to build them thirteen little electric chairs for their lawn display. Not nearly as easy to make little electric chairs as it is to make pretty white crosses...
In the meantime, the mosque has gotten clearance from the local and state authorities to open the doors for services beginning this Friday. Local fear mongers are sad, of course, because this has been their cause du jour for two years' worth of rabble rousing, and once you've started a bigotry ball rolling it's hard to just "let it go."
So when the next big thing happens at the mosque and the helicopters are circling overhead, don't expect yours truly to jump in his car and drive up Bradyville Highway to see what's happening. I'm afraid some of the local wingnutters aren't going to be satisfied with symbolic crosses to express their dissatisfaction. I'm afraid there are people in this area who have lost their fucking minds about this silly shit, and some of those folks won't be inclined to sit at home and read scriptures about being a good neighbor.
Like they say, it's all well and good until someone gets hurt, right?