I have noticed something while living out here in Suburgatory. Whenever the NIMBYs don’t want a neighborhood change or a certain group of people living near them they hide behind terms like “traffic concerns” or “having a common interest” to wage their war. They did that when the funeral home wanted to open in Clarksville earlier this year and during the redistricting debacle in March. So I was not surprised when I read that there was opposition to a Islamic Center being built in Cookesville. Why would 325 of the good neighbors of Cookesville oppose a chance to diversify their world? Because of “traffic problems” of course. Pfft!!! Yeah….ok.
Before I begin I must acknowledge a couple of things. I wasn’t at the community meeting last Tuesday in Cookesville (and that a blessing because I have no idea where the heck it is. One day I swear I’m going to pay someone to give me a tour of this county.) And since I am African-American and female I am sensitive by nature to discrimination. Also, this could be a case of the media hyping up something that really isn’t a big deal. Ok. Now that I have gotten the alternatives out of the way let me get to my real feelings.
First of all, I am so sick of spoiled Surburbanites acting like the world is going to come to an end just because some construction is coming their way. Change is difficult and the best way to deal with it is to face it head on. Instead of complaining why don’t these folks look at the positive outcomes from this venture. Stop being so myopic. Second of all, these people are willing to drop $8 million to purchase this property and pay a boatload of property tax to build an Islamic school and community center. They believe in education and community building that much. Sounds like they have a lot in common with the people of Howard County so what’s the real issue here. Hell they haven’t even submitted plans yet and the good neighbors of Cookesville are already raising their pitch forks.
I want to ask this question and I mean no disrespect: would there be such a ruckus raised if a Jewish group proposed the same kind of plans? Maybe so but I think folks would keep that real hush hush. So what makes a Muslim group so different. Next thing you know the good neighbors of Cookesville be the ones circling the parking lot at the George Howard building before a council meeting. It’s just a discussion y’all. Simmer down.
I seem to remember a similar hullabaloo being raised about the people of Islamic faith when a group of Muslim women asked for some time to be set aside at a pool here in Howard County so they could swim without men around. Well you don’t have to be a Muslim to want that kind of privacy. I’m sure women of all faiths (myself included) would love some time to swim and workout without men gawking at them (Hello Curves for Women). But for some reason when the Muslim women asked for this allowance it was a problem. Why can’t folks leave them alone? They’re pretty low key for a group that is 10,000 deep in Howard County. They pay the same taxes and obey the same public laws like everyone else. I don’t understand the fuss.
Oh good neighbors of Cookesville wait this thing out a little. Trust me. As a former urban citizen I can honestly say that a little heterogeneity will brighten your world especially if you make an effort to get to know them. If it was a halfway home for reformed yet possibly deranged murderers coming your way I’d raise a pitchfork with you. But they are just people trying to make a life for themselves in HoCo and they don’t want anything from you but a little space. Cut them some slack and back off.