Posted by on August 03, 2012 in Blog

We wrote earlier this week about a Republican primary in Tennessee between Rep. Diane Black (TN-6) and her challenger Lou Ann Zelenik, an outspoken critic of the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro. Zelenik, who had challenged black two years earlier on an almost entirely anti-Muslim platform, lost again in yesterday’s primary, failing for a second time to win the coveted congressional seat. In 2010 Zelenik ran against then State Senator Black and lost by fewer than 300 votes. Her strategy at that time was the same as it was during this primary: to use the Murfreesboro Mosque – which is about 30 miles outside the congressional district – as a political wedge issue to distinguish herself from Rep Black for not taking the alleged threat of Sharia law seriously enough.

Baring strikingly similar talking points to that of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, Zelenik pledged that if she were elected she would “stop the Islamization of our society, and do everything possible to prevent Sharia Law from circumventing our laws and our Constitution." Zelenik was also backed by a very wealthy businessman, Andy Miller who pumped money into her election bid, helping to fuel the anti-Mosque fervor.  

Despite her relative tolerance to Zelenik, Rep Black has hardly stood on principle about the Murfreeboro Mosque. She has said she believes approval and construction of the Mosque was “rushed” and stressed that the fervor over the mosque’s construction wasn’t about religion, but was “about people staying vigilant.” Despite Rep. Black’s troubling stance on the Mosque, her campaign was not run on an entirely Islamophobic platform. Zelenik’s loss should be seen as a positive thing for Tennessee and for the country.

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