Acting like there are two sides to the current fight in the Collin County hinterlands over a potential Islamic Association of Collin County-owned cemetery is view from nowhere bullshit. The arguments being made by the residents of Farmersville, the town closest to the future cemetery, are not reasonable. The association needed a cemetery in North Texas, bought some property, and is following every required government regulation. The city of Farmersville doesn't even have jurisdiction over the cemetery, because its site is outside city limits. Still, residents want to bitch, and the city is willing to listen. Last night, a standing-room only crowd packed Farmersville High School's auditorium to foam at the mouth. To wit, the cream of the crop from the local news stories about the meeting:
"Our beloved Lake Lavon is going to be contaminated by dead Muslims."
The state of Texas doesn't require that any body be embalmed, as long as certain procedures are upheld. That notwithstanding, Farmersville residents have latched on to the concern that, despite the new cemetery following all state burial regulations — including sealing wooden coffins in concrete vaults — somehow decomposing bodies would leach into the water supply that serves the city. Plus, Lake Lavon sucks.
"You may have been told that the Quran advocates violence, advocates harm, murder, rape..."
Khalil Abdur-Rashid, representing the Islamic Association of Collin County, said this at the auditorium meeting, presumably as a rhetorical device to present a contradicting view. Before that could happen, a voice in the crowd insisted "it does" to rapturous applause. The right-wing canard that Muslims are encouraged to lie in furtherance of their religious goals was trotted out by another speaker.
"Everyplace y'all've been, y'all have caused some kind of controversy in the schools and the government let y'all have y'all's way. Well it's not going to happen in Farmersville."
It's unclear what a cemetery has to do with the public school system — although schools will come up again in a bit — or what special rights the government has granted Muslim students. We'll be on the lookout, though.
"You just can't trust them. I don't believe that they're going to tell the truth about this issue. I think eventually there'll be a mosque, there'll be a training center there."
This one comes from David Meeks, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. He was trotted out by multiple local TV networks last night in their recaps of the event to put the concerned white face on the hate being spewed by the crowd. In reaction to similar worries from others, the Islamic Association of Collin County has been made to promise that they will not participate in terrorist activities on the site, that there are no plans to build a mosque on the site and that there is no training facility planned for the site.
"I don't hate you. I don't like your religion, and I don't even classify it as a religion."
Words, and their definitions, can be hard.
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From a woman with giant cross earrings: "With all of this opposition, why do you want to stay here?"
Jesus himself couldn't have said it better.
Giving credit where it's due, First Baptist Farmersville Paston Bart Barber, said the cemetery should be allowed to exist. Wanting to stop it, he said, overestimates other faiths and underestimates the Christian gospel.