Last weekend, Republican state representative Rick Womick, of Murfreesboro, sparked controversy when he called for Muslims to be removed from the United States military.
“Personally, I don’t trust one Muslim in our military,” Womick stated in an interview with Thinkprogress.org.
Murfreesboro’s Daily News Journal followed up with Womick after the initial story containing the incendiary remarks was released, but Womick did not apologize, instead doubling down and telling the publication, “We’re at war with Muslims.”
It’s amazing how such vast amounts of intolerance and ignorance can fit in to so few words and it’s saddening to consider that these words were uttered by an individual entrusted with the power to make laws, and elected to serve the interests of all of his constituents.
Let’s be clear: Rick Womick’s remarks are hate speech, plain and simple.
His words are discriminatory, unworthy of the office in which he serves, and ultimately, unamerican, standing in direct contrast to those sacred ideals embedded in our constitution of freedom of religion and equal protection for all Americans under the law.
Furthermore, Womick’s offensive words discount the sacrifice that Muslim men and women have already made, and continue to make for their country.
In an appearance on “Meet the Press” in advance of the 2008 election, Gen. Colin Powell lamented the anti-Muslim sentiment that has become all too common in America.
He talked about a photo essay he read concludingwith a striking picture of a mother in Arlington Cemetery sitting by her fallen son’s headstone, marked by the star and crescent of the Islamic faith.
His name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. At 20-years-old, he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country while fighting in Iraq. He was an American, and he was a Muslim.
The fear-mongering ends now.
While Rick Womick is not the first local politician to make such polarizing remarks and pit Tennesseans against their Muslim brothers and sisters in our communities, he must be the last.
The voices that continue to conjure up such hate and perpetuate this discrimination must be quieted.
There is indeed a seat at the table for this all too often marginalized group of Americans and it’s time we make some room.