Harwell, Haslam should Stand up for Muslim Vets
Friday, while many of us were celebrating our veterans, Womick, R-Rockvale, had other plans. He spent the day speaking at a conference for anti-Muslim activists, telling the crowd that “we cannot have Muslims in our military because we cannot trust them.” When asked by a reporter about Muslims in the armed forces, Womick replied that they should be forced out.
Unfortunately, these weren’t offhand remarks or quotes taken out of context. According to Womick, any Muslim in an American uniform might be part of a terror plot, and he’s concerned that those who appear to love their country are faking it.
These would be shameful, ignorant words on any given day. On Veterans Day, however, they were particularly repugnant.
Why? Because they marred the remembrance of Humayun Khan, Azhar Ali, Kareem Khan, and others like them — young Americans who served their country in battle, lost their lives as a result, and also happened to practice the Muslim faith.
These young men left their families in the United States to go to war in Iraq. They never made it home.
Humayun Khan, an Army captain, was killed when he attempted to stop a suicide bomber from reaching an American base. Azhar Ali, an Army specialist, was killed when a roadside bomb destroyed his vehicle. And Kareem Khan, an Army corporal, died from injuries suffered from an IED while on foot patrol. Capt. Khan and Cpl. Khan were awarded Bronze Stars for bravery.
These soldiers were brave but not unique. There are thousands of other Muslims who serve in our armed forces today, willing to make the same sacrifice to defend our country and our freedoms.
Yet, on a day reserved to honor these heroes, Womick repaid their service with bigotry. They deserve better.
Republican leaders in Tennessee — especially House Speaker Beth Harwell and Gov. Bill Haslam — can stand up for our Muslim veterans and servicemen by condemning Womick. Will they?
They need only look to another prominent Republican, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to see how it’s done. After critics attacked a judicial appointee because of his Muslim faith, Christie blasted the critics’ “ignorance,” saying he was “tired of dealing with the crazies.”
So far, neither Harwell nor Haslam has shown the same backbone to confront bigotry in their own backyard. In fact, since Womick made his hateful remarks, no Tennessee Republican has criticized him.
If Womick had advocated purging women or Jews or African-Americans from the military, colleagues would have been quick to ask him to step down. Their silence speaks volumes.
Womick certainly has a right to say what he wants; it’s a freedom that our troops — all of them — fight to protect.
But his words leave little doubt that he doesn’t belong in the Tennessee legislature.
Will Harwell or Haslam demonstrate leadership and say so?
Original post: Harwell, Haslam should stand up for Muslim vets