Here is a note I just received from a friend.
I'd like to remain anonymous in what I'm about to tell u but I welcome u
to share this thru email.
I'm returning now from being in Gatlinburg. I was shocked to notice that
many of the shops are replaced by new ones. The owners have foreign
accents. I would guess 80% are now run by Indians Pakistanis and now
Ukrainians! I asked one lady where she was from and she said Ukraine. I
asked 2 other shop owners where they were from: Ukraine. I jokingly
asked " did you folks buy up the whole left side of Gatlinburg? She withbarely veiled hatred and disdain said" Yeah, pretty much".
I tried to ask a vendor whom I asked first if he was American, about
what was happening with all the foreigners. He refused to even talk
about it. I asked another group and they seemed afraid but one woman
spoke up with an attitude of careless determination and told us that the
chamber of commerce was Iranians. That there was nothing they could do
but try to stand. The others looked at her and each other nervously.
I spoke to a young lady in a in busy shop and she carefully began to
open up a little. She said the town was being bought up by a rich lawyer
called Joe Baker and that he is renting the shops out to foreigners
because they can afford higher rent since they don't have to pay taxes
for 5 years. She said the foreigners change the business name and sell
it to a relative and it continues tax free for 5 more years.
It's destroying Gatlinburg. It feels creepy. I asked what the religious
a ffiliation of most of the foreigners was--they said: MUSLIM!!!!
A Muslim foothold in the mountains of Tennessee!
Very scary and poignant!