On a cold and windy February night, a man who gave only his first name walked up to the Al-Farooq Islamic Center in south Nashville and handed a gallon of stain-blocker paint and a bag of brushes, rollers and rags to a Somali man standing in the parking lot.
Tim, an East Nashville resident, said he did the first thing he could think of when he drove by the center Wednesday and saw the words “Muslims Go home” and a crusade-style cross spray-painted in red across the front of the center, which doubles as a mosque.
“When I saw it, I just broke down crying,” the self-described unemployed truck driver said. “I went straight to Home Depot and bought a gallon of paint.”
As he handed over the paint he said, “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I hope you know that [this act] doesn’t represent my city. Again, I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
Those who have succumbed to hate are loud, and obnoxious, and get disproportionate attention in our Network-ized media because they are loud and obnoxious.
But they are a minority, by far. The Tea Baggers who cheered Tancredo's race-baiting, or gave a standing ovation to Birther idiocy, are not representative of the people of Nashville:
Salaad Nur, one of nine board members at Al-Farooq, said the congregation has received great community support since the incident and since a WTVF-Channel 5 news report about an alleged private Muslim community some are calling an Islamic terrorist training camp.
“We take it as a really strong symbol that the larger Nashville community is with us,” Nur said. “Especially in the face of inciting news against us. It’s reassuring that people are not shaken by what they hear over the airwaves.”
Even within the 20-25% block of Beck-watching, Red State reactionaries, the driving emotion is fear, not hate. And fear can be neutralized, with patience and empathy and even just with the passage of time. The unreachable ones, the ones who can only hate, they are but a sliver of a fraction.
They do not speak for America.