A New York Times guest essay published Monday expressed disapproval with social media platform Parler’s decision to move its headquarters from Nevada to Nashville, Tennessee, declaring the “blue city” would never turn red despite the site’s appeal to conservative users.
“When NPR’s tech reporter, Bobby Allyn, tweeted last week that the social media site Parler was moving its headquarters from Nevada to Nashville, a single word came to my mind — a word this newspaper will not publish, no matter that it is the only word in the English language truly appropriate to the situation,” liberal columnist and Nashville resident Margaret Renkl wrote.
Renkl noted Parler CEO George Farmer’s reasoning for the move, which included great weather, Southern hospitality, wonderful music, barbecue and a vision of individual liberty and free expression shared by the traditionally red state, but accused the site’s “vision of free expression” of helping “homegrown terrorists” attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The craven Republicans running Tennessee might share that vision of liberty, but Nashville definitely does not,” Renkl wrote, also noting that some have referred to Nashville as “a big blue dot in a deep red state.”
“That fact should tell you all you need to know about the relationship between this city and our state government. You likely know this dynamic already because it exists in virtually every major city or college town in every gerrymandered state governed by Republicans,” she added.
District lines have no effect on statewide elections. In Tennessee, Democrats have not won a U.S. Senate race since 1990, a presidential race since 1996, or a gubernatorial race since 2006.
Renkl veered off topic, claiming Nashville was in an “identity crisis” over what type of industry it would be known for and that it was performing poorly in terms of making sure the proper infrastructure and investment were in place to protect low-income residents while accommodating the city’s large growth.
“Some of the blame for this paralysis can be laid at the feet of state government, which frequently passes pre-emptive laws or issues pre-emptive executive orders designed to tie the hands of Nashville leaders,” she wrote. “The very last thing this city needs is to become the headquarters of a social media site favored by the right-wingers who are most poisoned by lies and hatred and fear.”
She referenced many people making the move to Tennessee from across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic and greater numbers of people working from home, but then turned to criticizing her state over its tax structure, the number of its residents who believe the 2020 election was stolen by President Biden, its juvenile court system, and the fact a church that uses guns in its services decided to purchase property in the state.
“Here in Nashville we don’t chant, ‘Build that wall.’ We cherish and protect immigrants. We don’t march because we want to overthrow the government. We march because Black Lives Matter. We march because we believe in science, and we believe in women’s autonomy. We march with pride because L.G.B.T.Q. and nonbinary people are beloved members of the community,” Renkl wrote.
“Nashville is wrestling with an identity crisis, yes, but I can promise you that in no version of its future will this city be turning red,” she added. “You may think that Nashville is just the biggest city in a very red state, Mr. Farmer, but it’s a lot more than that. And if you come here, you’ll find that we are fighting what Parler actually stands for with all we’ve got.”