Mae Beavers, whom you may remember as a former State Senator is running as a Republican candidate for governor. In support of her campaign, she is hosting a fundraiser at Trevecca Nazarene University on January 25th under the guise of a “Homeland Security Summit.” Three white protestant speakers that are all self-proclaimed experts on Islam are headlining the “Summit.” The speakers include John Guandolo, Cathy Hinners, and Bill Warner, all of whom are linked to hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
John Guandolo is a disgraced former FBI agent and conspiracy theorist. At a 2011 event, he claimed that mosques were fronts for terrorist activity, and “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.” More recently, in a 2016 radio interview, Guandolo said Americans would soon see “dozens of jihadis doing multiple operations in conjunction with the Marxist and socialist groups like Black Lives Matter, which will be, you know, burning and looting cities like they did in Ferguson [Mo.] and Baltimore.” Guandolo was dismissed from the FBI over ethical breaches including sexual misconduct.
Cathy Hinners has lamented that “prestigious” universities have allowed Muslim Student organizations on campuses and made bizarre claims about mosques taking over churches. “It’s considered a victory every time a mosque is built in the country.” Hinners runs the anti-Islam blog Daily Roll Call, where she makes claims linking Islam to almost every ill in our society. She considers being called out for her hatred by the Southern Poverty Law center a badge of honor.
The third speaker, Bill Warner, a former physics professor who sometimes speaks under the name Bill French, has made statements like “The two driving forces of our civilization are the Golden Rule and critical thought. … There is no Golden Rule in Islam. … There is not really even a Ten Commandments.”
This trio of speakers fit with Beaver’s ongoing campaign against practitioners of Islam and her anti-immigrant agenda. Beavers is proposing a very monochromatic vision of the state if she is selected to be the next governor. Tennessee must send a clear an unambiguous message that hate is not a family value, it’s not a Tennessee value, and it does not make us safer.