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EDITORIAL: Questions for the haters

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Enhanced surveillance image courtesy of RCSO.

Attacks against the local Muslim community and responses to those acts of hate sent us over the edge last week.

A few responses to news that vandals spray-painted vulgarities to Allah and tried spelling the same in bacon in front of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro read:

  • "Cool"
  • "It's bacon!!! Is it really a crime... Since when in America did bacon become a crime"
  • "Fake hate crime by the liberal media" (later deleted)
  • "So... are the patriots in the (surveillance) video now up for an award?"

This crime and these comments left us with a few questions, like what on God's green earth is wrong with people?

The definition of a hate crime according to the FBI: a traditional offense like murder, arson or vandalism with an added element of bias... against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.

We think most folks would agree last week's events fit the bill. Covering vandalism at our community's mosque doesn't make us "liberal media" anymore than covering vandalized churches in the past makes us conservative. It's simply the nature of our job as a news organization.

Would Facebook's armchair experts say the same things if vandalism found outside the front entrance of a church or synagogue spelled an obscenity in lamb's blood, symbolic for Christians and Jews?

  • Would it be "cool" if someone tagged the wall with "F--- Jesus" or "F--- God?"
  • "It's animal blood!!! Is it really a crime... Since when in America did animal blood become a crime"
  • "Fake hate crime by the Christian/Jewish media"
  • "So... are the patriots in the (surveillance) video now up for an award?"

We think people of those faiths might (rightly) feel threatened by such actions.

According to the non-profit Human Rights Watch, citing data from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, hate crimes against the Muslim community have risen the past two years. Although reporting of hate crimes is highly inaccurate according to the organization itself, the study states attacks on mosques and Muslims rose 67 percent from 2014 to 2015, then another 44 percent from 2015 to 2016.

What exactly do the haters contribute to society?

  • Do they install and stock little libraries in our community to encourage literacy?
  • Do they collect restaurant gift cards for The Journey Home?
  • Do they host a giant Thanksgiving meal where everyone is welcome, so no one has to eat alone?
  • Did they rally to help a refugee family have a Christian funeral for their father, taken too soon after fleeing a brutal, devastating war?
  • Did they partner with Murfreesboro Cold Patrol to create a meal voucher program at Kwik Sack, where the homeless folks hang out? Cold Patrol's director says the Muslim community has been one of the (Christian) nonprofit's biggest supporters.

This isn't even half of what the local Muslim community does to make Murfreesboro a better place to live and raise a family.

So what on God's green earth is wrong with people? Here's our best guess.

These vandals and those who endorse their crimes have never known someone different than themselves. They never wander outside their fishbowl, living their lives with similar people who hold similar values and share similar beliefs. Perhaps these beliefs make them think it's OK to hate another person, a neighbor, the color of their skin or who they love.

Dr. Sbenaty said last Tuesday night "the people of Murfreesboro, the people of Rutherford County, the people of Tennessee, the people of the United States, are way above hatred, are way above racism."

He believes it, and we wish we could too. But the vandals who sprayed slurs on the walls and pavement of the Islamic Center obviously aren't above hatred or racism. The Facebook trolls don't appear to be above such behavior, either.

According to the FBI, hate is not a crime. And as a news outlet, we cherish the freedom of speech.

But as people, it hurts to read such callousness, indifference and hatred towards those we call neighbors.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know by emailing editor@murfreesboropost.com. Please include your name, address and phone number if you would like your response to be published.

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