Recently, Tennessee Governor Haslam appointed a Sharia finance expert to the Economic and Community Development department.and partnered with a newly formed American Muslim Advisory Council in Tennessee. With the expanding territories of the Muslim world, Governor Haslam probably saw a great economic opportunity for Tennessee exports and business growth from this sector. Logical move for a man who promised jobs for this state. The person he chose to spearhead these efforts has a very impressive resume, is a homegrown Tennessean, has solid Republican credentials and, from all appearances, is the best person for the job at hand. This appointment appeared to be success in a bottle, a no-brainer if you will. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a man who has successfully managed a multi-billion dollar company.
When you a run a multi-billion dollar company, it makes sense to crunch numbers, not people’s “feelings” on any given business decision. Check your “feelings” at the door buddy, we are here to do business not play pattycake. However, when you enter the world of politics, “feelings” are never checked at the door, especially when those feelings involve core values, and yes, that includes religious beliefs. When you disregard someone’s religious beliefs, callously, you lose their confidence and then you eventually lose their vote, no matter how many jobs you create. All politics are local. So the message you are sending to your own people, the people who elected you in the first place, is that you are willing to cater to other religious beliefs (Sharia) in order to gain business internationally, while totally disregarding the religious beliefs of those in your own home state. No matter if this is your intent or not, it still plays out at as a monumental communication error…or smells like the complete disdain of an elitist. Tennesseans don’t care for elitists. As the old saying goes, don’t get too far from your overalls boy.
Then you have the rebuttal for the decision, which makes matters even worse. You have the talking heads pulling out the oh so brilliant “Race” card. It never fails, when someone criticizes Muslim related anything these days, the rebuttal always involves calling the critical person a racist. Then, in the very next breath, especially if the offending person doesn’t come from the urban part of this country, the rebuttal involves a beat down on that person’s religious beliefs as ignorant and “unenlightened”. Our educational system has done an excellent job at creating an atmosphere of tolerance, to the point of intolerance of anything not multicultural. That will work in the urban areas, but in the small towns of America, especially Tennessee small towns, those areas where people “cling” to their bibles and their guns, it doesn’t fly very well. And to belittle those people and their belief systems is exactly the kind of racism the edumacated people are railing against. Intolerance and ignorance goes both ways.
Is the best person for the ECD job in that position, sounds like it. But at what cost. People have fought for their religious beliefs since the beginning of time, our country was founded by those very same honed warriors. To deny or belittle a person’s core belief structure is a recipe for disaster. Profits be damned.