'The Face of Hate'

Take a good look at this woman’s picture. She appears harmless enough. Now age 69, she has served 8 years in the Tennessee House of Representatives and has served in the Tennessee State Senate since 2002. She received a bachelor’s degree from Trevecca Nazarene University and attends a Nazarene church, so she’s well-educated and, we assume, religious since the Nazarene Church’s website claims its mission is “to make Christlike disciples in the nations”.

But take a closer look at this woman behind her benign picture – and you’ll discover she is the Face of Hate. I have no right to judge her heart, but I have every right to judge her actions.

And her latest action has directly involved me and my law practice. On May 23, 2017 – without any provocation by me or notice to me – she posted the following on her Facebook Page:

So Sen. Beavers has judged me and my associates to be EVIL because we . . . represent and defend immigrants.

Normally I don’t respond to such vitriol; my office gets hate calls on a regular basis, and we ignore all of them. But this time I think it’s important to respond because, first, Sen. Beavers already holds a high office and is running for Tennessee’s highest office, and second, this kind of hate speech has contributed so much to the creation of hate-groups in Tennessee and the violence they foment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that Tennessee has a serious hate-group problem, with a total of 38 located in the state. Beavers’ district unsurprisingly serves as home to at least one group, Militant Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, (Gladeville), but there are nine others scattered all over Middle Tennessee, mostly in the affluent suburbs around Nashville. Even this number understates the threat of hate here; for example, Dylan Roof never joined a hate group, but browsed internet hate sites enough to fill himself with so much venom that he went on to kill nine black churchgoers in Charleston, SC in an effort to start a race war.

There are several remarkable aspects to Beavers’ Facebook post about me and my law office. First, she haughtily assumes that her public office entitles her to attack a private citizen who neither holds nor is running for public office. This reeks of despotism and suggests that, given an opportunity to hold higher office, she would likely attack other private citizens in a cruel and oppressive way on the basis of their professions or how they make their living.

Second, she arrogates to herself the power to condemn entire professions if she disagrees with something they do. Ponder the implications of this for a moment: would she condemn a surgeon for saving the life of an “illegal immigrant” in the operating room? Would she condemn an imam for ministering to the souls of Muslims who have committed sins and seek forgiveness? Would she castigate an auto mechanic who repairs the car of an immigrant who has no driver license? Would she brand as evil the thousands of her constituents who give money to undocumented immigrants in exchange for manicuring their beautiful lawns, thus enabling them to live here and provide for their families? Where does this end? For my part, I am proud of what I do because in defending immigrants, I am defending their rights under the Constitution. I defend the constitutional rights of immigrants today; tomorrow, I may need to defend your constitutional rights. When a client first enters my office, he will see a tribute to Pastor Martin Niemuller. This Lutheran minister first supported Hitler but later fiercely opposed him; consequently, the Nazis arrested him and sent him to concentration camps from 1937-1945, where he narrowly escaped execution. He became famous for saying: “”First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist. … Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.” Today, Mae Beavers brands me as evil; tomorrow, she may brand you as well.

Third, she has converted her political views into a religion and has assumed the role of God in reading my heart and announcing to the world that I am evil. This tumor has been slowly growing over the last 25 years and has finally become a cancer on our American body politic. For years, people advocated for different policies in government: taxes, the environment, education, healthcare. When the time came for a final vote, both sides compromised and government continued. Now, what once were “policy disagreements” have now become “religiousized” into right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and evil – and there is no more compromise, nor any more rational debate. This is precisely why Thomas Jefferson insisted upon a “wall of separation” between matters of state and matters of religion; otherwise, we allow our intolerance to devolve into destructive violence, not unlike the wars going on now in the Middle East between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

I wish I could pretend Beavers’ post is just the product of an ignorant hayseed, but I cannot – she has a college degree and attended the Nashville School of Law. I wish I could dismiss Beavers’ post as the mere rant of a whacko on the extreme fringe of her political party, but I cannot – when she ran for delegate to the 2016 Republican Convention, she polled more votes than any other candidate on a state-wide basis. She served as the chair of the Tennessee Republican Delegation and nominated Donald Trump as the GOP nominee. For good or ill, she has influence and a statewide following.

Am I going to sue her for libel? Certainly not, though some have suggested I do so. Should she be censored? Absolutely not – she has the same freedom of speech under the First Amendment as I do. Nothing in this piece is really addressed to her; rather, it’s addressed to all citizens who pledge allegiance “to the flag of the United States of America, and the Republic for which it stands, One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Really concentrate on each of these words the next time you put your hand over your heart and say them. If you really believe in this country as One Nation, you’ll reject the divisive demagoguery of Mae Beavers and her ilk – for the benefit of our Republic.