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By Brian Justice, staff writer
Coffee County Commissioner Barry West says a Facebook posting he had made Saturday called “How to Wink at a Muslim,” showing a man in a cowboy hat sighting a side-by-side double-barrel shotgun at the camera, was done to be funny.
However, some residents don’t see it that way.
West, who represents Manchester’s District 11, said Tuesday he found the image and statement on Facebook and posted it because
“I thought it was humorous.”
West was asked by The Tullahoma News if he is prejudiced toward Muslims.
“I’m prejudiced against anyone who’s trying to tear down this country, Muslims, Mexicans, anybody,” he said. “If you come into this country illegally or harm us or take away benefits, I’m against it.”
The posting remained on Facebook until Tuesday morning after West was contacted by The News.
West, who said he is a Vietnam veteran, added that he wasn’t trying to make a political statement, but he was “making a point.”
West went on to say: “God made us all equal, but let’s play by the same rules.”
He said the image and statement had been shared several times since he had posted it.
“I just showed it to somebody else,” he said. “If you’re going to harm this country, I’m not in favor of you … I don’t appreciate people trying to tear down this country.”
West said he doesn’t hold anything against Muslims “per se, but if you’re trying to tear down this country, find somewhere else to go.”
Zak Mohyuddin, a Tullahoma Muslim, said the posting draws a historical connection to other incidences where a religion or race was persecuted or ostracized.
“In cases like this, I’d say he was born too late to hate the Japanese,” Mohyuddin said, referring to the persecution that had taken place against Japanese Americans during World War II where they were forced into concentration camps away from normal society. “If he were born earlier, he would say the same thing about the Japanese.”
Coffee County Mayor David Pennington said as far as he knows, West will probably not be facing any punitive action related to his position as a county commissioner.
“I don’t think we have any control over what they can and can’t do outside of commission or committee meetings,” he said.
Pennington said he is reserving further comment unless something further happens related to the situation.