Mike Sparks is facing an extremely difficult election this cycle. Brandon Thomas is a young, black man with a progressive platform and widespread support, particularly among young people. He’s energetic and has put in the work to make personal connections with a huge swath of the district’s electorate.
Sparks, by contrast, has spent much of his time defending the bust of KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forest in the state’s capital and claiming to the Tennessee Holler that he doesn’t know why the civil war was fought.
WATCH: “Was the civil war fought over slavery?”
REP. MIKE SPARKS: “I haven’t really studied it- we all need to study our history ?- there’s different context.”
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) July 9, 2020
He even took some time out of this busy schedule to pen an Op-Ed for the Murfreesboro Voice in defense of Trump loving Ex-Democrat John DeBerry.
In it, he claims that DeBerry is some kind of victim for having been ousted from the Democratic ticket over his litany of absurd statements and positions. This is, of course, absurd, as the Democratic Party is a political organization with every right to decide not to lend its apparatus to a candidate who does not fit with their values. Unlike Sparks’ Republican Party, which seems to jump frantically from one ideology to another in pursuit of power, the Democrats seem to have at least some standards.
I don’t find myself overly disturbed by Sparks’ defense of DeBerry, however. This is run-of-the-mill culture war nonsense that Republicans always gin up a month or so before an election to drive out their base. It’s ridiculous, but it comes with the territory. I do take issue with Sparks’ appropriation of the language of resistance, which he does so brazenly that I can only assume that he is as ignorant of its context as he is of our own state’s Confederate history.
Welcome to part 2 of TN’s hottest new game show: “Does Rep. Sparks Know Basic History?” Today, the answer is, once again, no! We interviewed his opponent @Brandon4Tenn on the Holler Facebook today. pic.twitter.com/pNIAXAGjbo
— Murfreesboro Holler (@TheBoroHoller) August 10, 2020
The absurdity begins as he mentions the iconic anti-fascist poem by German pastor Martin Niemoller, “First They Came…” Sparks doesn’t actually quote any lines from the poem, likely because the very first line of the poem’s most famous form is “first they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a socialist.”
This isn’t a poem about a wealthy, longtime state representative being removed from his party for supporting a fascist president. It’s about the ways in which authoritarian governments divide their population and attack those in the political, religious, and racial minorities while assuring all others that they’re safe as part of the majority.
It’s a critique of the “Us versus Them” mentality.
Does this sound familiar? One example might be an authoritarian president building a campaign on the claim that a large portion of Mexican immigrants are dangerous criminals, or banning a religious minority from entering the country.
Another example could be a clownish Governor and entrenched supermajority passing laws that target protestors and strip them of their voting rights for the crime of daring to speak up in defense of black life. I wonder what Mike Sparks would have to say about events like that?
As Tennessee lawmakers vote on extreme bill to criminalize protests, I’ve been thinking about this photo of a young John Lewis protesting here in Nashville. The Tennessee Capitol in the background. It reminds me that we’re on the right side of history and can’t stop. #GoodTrouble pic.twitter.com/hhm13vn2zP
— Justin Jones (@brotherjones_) August 12, 2020
It’s the excerpt from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which is the most egregious, however. Unlike the poem, of which one could give Sparks the benefit of assuming ignorance, he adamantly claims to have read this document, and yet his understanding of it seems to be on the level of someone who skimmed Dr. King’s work for quotes that could be construed to agree with him.
He goes with the oft-quoted warning that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” This is a remarkably convenient line for Sparks, and is so removed from its context as to be nearly meaningless. However, to find this line, he was forced to sift through a mountain of criticism for laws that look identical to the anti-protest bill that he just voted for!
For an obvious example, Dr. King says that “there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.”
This speaks to a greater tendency among the right to quote Dr. King while categorically refusing his key claim that all actions must be viewed within the context which has given rise to them. This is what Dr. King meant when he said that “riots are the language of the unheard,” and it is absolutely central to his brilliant understanding of opposition to hierarchy and oppression.
While Brandon Thomas travels the district meeting constituents and accepting endorsements from workers unions and activist groups, Mike Sparks spends his time defending the racist authoritarians of the past like Nathan Bedford Forest, and the racist authoritarians of today like Donald Trump.
He is a voice for the powerful against the powerless, an advocate for order at the expense of justice.
He is what Dr. King would call “the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.’”
No man who votes to protect a bust honoring a KKK Grand Wizard or strip voting rights from peaceful protestors for “camping” should be using the words of Dr. King or Pastor Niemoller. We cannot allow the defenders of power and authoritarianism to co-opt the language of true, profound resistance to such horrors.
We should learn from our history, so that men like Mike Sparks aren’t able to distort it for their own agenda.
Brendon Donoho is a student at MTSU, president of MTSU Young Democratic Socialists of America, and a resident of Rutherford County
Locals Protest Johnny Reb Statue on the Town Square
Protesters See Statues as a Remnant of a Painful Time
by Brendon Donoho
Murfreesboro’s town square is quite a sight to behold. An assortment of local boutiques and restaurants fill its outer rim, bustling with crowds of locals and visitors alike while at its core sits a magnificent courthouse which has commanded this location since 1859. The Courthouse sits as the central jewel of the square with each of its corners adorned with a unique monument.
There is the monument to Revolutionary War General Griffith Rutherford in the Northwest, a rather touching tribute to veterans of the two World Wars in the Southeast, and a simple but elegant pillar in the Southwest commemorating the city’s short time as the Tennessee state capital. Recently, however, it’s the Northeast corner of the courthouse grounds which has found itself at the center of public debate.
On Friday, a handful of Murfreesboro locals gathered on the square to once again ask for the removal of the city’s statue and monument honoring “the valor of Confederate soldiers who fell of the great Battle of Murfreesboro.” Incidentally, nearly 900 Union Soldiers also died in this combat, though they’ve been left mysteriously unnamed on this quite garish memorial. Near the statue, there is also a tablet teaching readers about “The Square During Occupation,” bizarrely referring to the American military as an occupying force which was bravely defeated by the Confederates.
In addition, the courthouse itself is dedicated, by a plaque near its front door, to General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General who is often also credited as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. This plaque was placed in 1912 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, a Nashville-founded group which venerated the Klan and mass-produced Confederate statues at the turn of the century in support of Jim Crow laws.
Michael Sangetti, who planned the day’s protest, had quite a bit to say about the statue. “We definitely want to draw attention to the statue here. It’s representative of the laws that we still use today to oppress black people in our current policing system… It is a symbol of intimidation and hate and not history.”
Sangetti started his protest on Thursday and doesn’t plan to stop until he’s seen the change he’s asking for. “I plan on coming as many days as possible. I’d like to stay out here, honestly, until the statue comes down. Until the mayor and city council can address the needs of the Black community here in Murfreesboro who are over policed and over arrested.”
Ultimately, he sees these statues as the most public face of the underlying systemic racism which has plagued the United States, and particularly the South, since before the nation’s founding. “Without saying anything, it is a visual representation of white supremacy and hate…I’ve heard from my black friends that they would notice it every day and every time they pass by it. My aunt would notice it every time she was on the square.”
Sangetti was joined on Friday by a handful of Murfreesboro residents who felt it important to make their own voices heard.
Darla Gates said “I’m just gonna use my white privilege to stand up and say that this is wrong. That’s what it’s gonna take. All of us supporting the Black and Brown communities for them to know that this has got to change.”
The protesters are asking for the removal of the statue and other Confederate monuments around Murfreesboro as the first step toward reconciling the deep history of racism and oppression which unfortunately checkers this nation’s past. Friday was the second day of protests and, according to the protestors, the reaction has been mostly positive.
“I think the general response is about Sixty-forty. Sixty percent are usually behind it.
It seems like older people are not so much behind it, younger people are.” Said Sangetti, “We’ve had people bring us water today. Some younger girls came and offered to buy me ice cream. I had one guy come and shake my hand yesterday.”
While the protestors are correct to point out the history of systemic oppression and racism which lies at the bedrock of our nation, I couldn’t help but think, as I spoke to the small, sign holding group on the town square, that there is also another tradition here in America. This is the tradition at play when a handful of local citizens decide that a decision by their city has upset them and find their way to the streets in protest. It’s the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., of Malcolm X, of Woodie Guthrie, George Meany, and every other American who has taken to the streets in an act of radical democracy to make their voices heard.
This is a practice which has finally made a return to modern American society, and it is alive and well in Murfreesboro, as it is everywhere else.
Watch Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) Rip House GOP Majority Leader William Lamberth’s anti-rioting bill for completely ignoring the ROOT CAUSE of the reason people are upset.
WATCH: “TODAY. To be running this legislation TODAY. GEORGE FLOYD’S FUNERAL IS RIGHT NOW.” @TNRepParkinson calls out @tnhousegop leader @WilliamLamberth for pushing an anti-rioter bill while killing bills to address the “ROOT CAUSE” of WHY people are protesting. ??? pic.twitter.com/dfZBPwviNW
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 10, 2020
Bill Freeman is the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Scene, Nfocus, Nashville Post and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.
Sen. Joey Hensley, MD Should Be Replaced Following News of his Unethical Behavior
(NASHVILLE, Tennessee) – As the season to elect the next representatives for the 112th Tennessee General Assembly is beginning, it is important to remind voters of the pressing importance that our elected officials represent our values and exhibit the ethics necessary to serve as a member of our state legislature.
Tennessee Senate District 28 is shamefully represented by Joey Hensley, MD, who has been publicly found to be lacking in the morality and decency expected of an elected official.
He was brought before a hearing of the state medical board due to factually-based allegations that he had provided medical treatment and controlled substances to immediate family members. Even worse, it was stated that he had engaged in a sexual affair with his then-nurse while also serving as her physician and prescribing her controlled substances. The board found that there was significant merit to these factual allegations to warrant a full hearing to constitute disciplinary action on the part of the board. The full hearing, according to public record, was scheduled for September 18, 2019.
However, no information is yet available in his license information as regulated by the state licensure verification. In this system, they give their full endorsement. There are no actions reported by a state regulatory board. There are no disciplinary actions taken by a hospital. There are no criminal offenses listed, and he still holds privileges at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville and is licensed to accept BlueCare.
How can a medical professional be found responsible for these gross ethical violations yet have no public information to inform his patients and, equally as importantly, to inform the residents he was elected to represent?
What are the findings of the full hearing? The information publicly investigated by multiple media outlets certainly documented enough salacious information to fuel the plot of a soap opera for months.
When the facts were made public of Hensley’s multiple failed marriages, his participation in extramarital affairs and his grossly improper medical care to immediate family members, to employees and to his then-married second cousin with whom he had a sexual affair while in his employ, you would think that public outrage would have resulted in an immediate censure, licensure revocation or other appropriate action by the state regulatory boards or by the General Assembly.
But nothing has occurred at all.
What will it take for a radically conservative politician in the state of Tennessee to be removed from office? We have found that employing cocaine addicts bragging about sexual conquests while in session and in government offices isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to have compelling testimony and public witness of your sexual predatory behavior toward teenage girls while their high school basketball coach. Is it enough to prescribe opiates to your married second cousin who’s both your nurse and your sexual affair partner? She testified in court that they even had sexual intercourse at his medical practice in Hohenwald. How can this get any seedier? Were these encounters during business hours? Were patients in the waiting room or already called back to see the doctor that day? Hensley should resign with the little dignity he has left, and perhaps a new medical professional should look to the list of the 22 best physician mortgage loans at the moment, in order to offer patients a new medical practice to be seen at, instead of one which has seen such grotesque acts within its walls.
These grossly inappropriate actions have brought public embarrassment to the state of Tennessee, and they must be particularly embarrassing to the residents of Senate District 28, which includes the six counties of Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry and Wayne Counties.
We need to know the findings and disciplinary actions of the state medical board from their full hearing. It is unconscionable that a medical doctor can be found responsible for these actions and be unaffected. Even worse, it is downright unfathomable that an elected representative- particularly one who is doggedly championing radically conservative causes to the point of bringing national attention and embarrassment from his proposed legislation-to be still in office.
Is there is anyone in the entire six-county region that elected Hensley to office who might consider throwing his or her hat in the ring?
The time is now. The filing deadline is April 2, 2020. And to those voters in this district, please consider these serious and concerning allegations. It isn’t right that Hensley is representing you. He’s never won a landslide election, and they’ve all taken place before these facts have become public.
It’s time to do the right thing. I am certain that there are plenty of upstanding leaders in Pulaski, Linden, Columbia, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg, Hohenwald, Waynesboro and every part in between who are willing to serve this fine region. All of Tennessee should call upon this district’s business leaders, community servants and everyday citizens to protest his blackened record and replace state Senator Joey Hensley.
ABOUT BILL FREEMAN
Bill Freeman is a Democratic Party fundraiser, the former treasurer of the Tennessee Democratic Party, a member of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, a member of the Board of Trustees for Tennessee State University and was appointed to serve on the advisory board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He also serves as chairman of Freeman Webb Inc., a real estate investment, management and brokerage company based in Nashville, which he co-founded in 1979. He is also the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Post, the Nashville Scene, Nfocus and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.
WATCH Holler co-founders Holly McCall & Justin Kanew – and Howard Garrett – speak out against a Franklin ordinance that seeks to regulate citizens’ First Amendment right to peaceable assembly.
Below is our interview with Tammy Hatcher, who runs Maury County’s Confederate Christmas Ball, which Natalie Allison of The Tennessean tweeted about earlier today:
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) December 6, 2019
It turns out it is in fact a real thing, taking place tomorrow night in Columbia.
“Step back in time and fill your dance card as you swirl the floor to authentic Reels, Promenades and Waltzes popular during the 1860s. On site dance instruction provided by dance master Mark Orman, period music provided by the 52 Tennessee Band. Light refreshments will be served.
Period dress is a must for participants and optional for spectators. Tickets go on sale October 1st. 2019.
Advanced tickets 30.00 and 35.00 at the door. Spectator tickets (non period dress) 25.00. For tickets and costume rental contact Tammy Hatcher at 931-698-3876 mailing address 4595 Old Sowell Mill Pike Columbia Tennessee 38401.”
We went ahead and called Tammy Hatcher. Here’s what she had to say.
HOLLER: How long has the Confederate Ball been running?
TAMMY: This is our 23rd year.
HOLLER: And how many people generally attend?
TAMMY: Anywhere from 150… I have had 200.
HOLLER: And what kind of events happen there? What is the program?
TAMMY: It’s basically a historic dance. We have a band that plays period music of the time and we dance. We just dance and have a good time. We do serve finger foods. That’s basically what we do.
HOLLER: What’s your background? Are you born and raised in Tennessee?
TAMMY: I am, yes. Born and raised in Columbia. I’ve always been into history.
HOLLER: And how do people dress at the Ball?
TAMMY: They dress in 1860’s period clothes. Spectators are welcome also. They cannot dance. We reserve the dance for period costumed participants.
HOLLER: Is there an acknowledgment of the racial aspect of it?
TAMMY: No. I have black folks that come. It’s not racially divided in any way. And no – we don’t do speeches, we don’t talk about anything, we dance. That’s all we do.
Tammy then asked about the Tennessee Holler.
TAMMY: Do y’all take… I don’t know how to say this without sounding ugly – there are a lot of people who don’t like people that do what we do. Are y’all on board with that train?
HOLLER: What train is that?
TAMMY: The one that’s trying to cover up our history, tear down our monuments… a lot of people like to advocate for certain kinds of things, and I don’t have any tolerance for those kinds of people. I don’t oppose to anybody knowing what we do. We’ve done it for years. We get together, we dance, and we have a good time. It’s not political. It’s not racial. It’s not anybody trying to segregate or… you know, be ugly to any one group of people.
HOLLER: Seems like what they would say probably is if it’s a celebration of the Confederacy that tends to rub people the wrong way.
TAMMY: It is a celebration of our history. We dance, and we have a good time. That is all we do. It is a Christmas celebration. We just picked the year 1860… but just because I have the word “confederate” in it, I don’t want anybody trying to stir up shit. Because the word “confederate” should not offend anybody. And it does offend a lot of people. But it shouldn’t. It’s ridiculous.
HOLLER: But sometimes the person who gets offended can’t control what offends them, right?
TAMMY: Well that’s true. And that’s what’s wrong with our society today. People can’t seem to control themselves. Just because they’re offended they think everybody else should be offended, and everything should be changed because they’re offended. People need to get over being offended. My goodness. I’ve lived 60 years and I can’t tell you the things that offend me and have offended me during my life – but I don’t try to change people because I’m offended… anybody that wants to come, we are a family-friendly event. We have young people come. Up from children to 15-16 year-old teenagers. No alcohol. Very hospitable. Nothing for anybody to be offended by in my opinion.
Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron and his family have been buried by scandal after scandal lately.
Watch him lash out (BELOW) at County Commissioner Robert Stevens who made a motion to ask Ketron to step aside.
Stevens has suggested starting an ouster suit. 10 citizens are needed. Rutherford county citizens should contact their county commissioners and support a leave of absence for the mayor. Contact info here.
State Senator Raumesh Akbari talks about why Governor Lee’s public school-harming vouchers shouldn’t be rushed, and why Tennessee needs to expand Medicaid.
Listen to the PODCAST HERE.
CLIP: State Sen. Akbari on $1 BILLION In Unspent Aid: “FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD”
It’s old news by now that Congressman Scott Desjarlais, who proclaims himself to be “a consistent supporter of pro-life values”, paid for 2 abortions and cheated on his wife with three coworkers, two patients and a drug rep- yet still keeps getting re-elected.
Would you believe us if we told you it appears Desjarlais is the moderate in his Republican Primary this time around?
Franklin County resident Doug Meyer has filed to run against Desjarlais in 2020 in the Republican primary, and spends much of his time making outlandish, violent, racist posts on Facebook. Allow us to show you a few lowlights…
Most of his vitriol is directed at Muslims. For instance, he’d like to shut down mosques:
Shares extremely unfunny posts about abused Muslim women:
Which he says is ok, because it’s important to “ridicule” “sandbox turds” so they get angry and expose themselves:
He believes Islam is a “parasite”:
And seems to be spoiling for a fight with Muslims:
He also thinks teachers are “Islam’s secret agents”:
And speaking of teachers, Doug and his wife homeschooled their kids because of the “mind-numbing bullshit” in our schools:
And he wanted to keep his kids away from the “moral destruction” that takes place there:
Something tells us he won’t be getting that TEA endorsement.
But Muslims and school aren’t his only targets. He wants to hang some or all members of congress… which would likely not make him the best co-worker were he to win:
He also has no love for “fake Republicans”:
He’s not a huge fan of Mitt Romney:
He also celebrates the death of indigenous people:
Thinks those shot in Gaza should be thankful they were only hobbled:
And then there’s whatever this is:
So it should be no wonder that he considers himself a “Proud Boy”, a far-right neo-fascist organization that admits only men as members and promotes political violence:
He truly seems to want war, apparently on behalf of Christianity – basically a new Christian Crusade:
And encourages Trump to cause that “Civil War”:
But while Doug seems to be cheerleading a Civil War outbreak, Doug generally believes we’re already at war:
He’s also a fervent supporter of D.A. Craig Northcott, the Islamophobic homophobic D.A. we exposed, who is STILL currently serving as the special prosecutor on the Glen Casada-Justin Jones case.
As Meyer expressed his support for Northcott, he also expressed his readinesss for violence. Another man on Facebook said a movement to “drive out” the “abomination” that is Islam needs to happen, “blood will have to be shed” and “laws will have to be broken”…
To which Meyer responds “you are precisely the sort of brave soul I would be proud to team with to do this thing”:
Doug’s vitriol for Islam is constant. He calls it a “death cult” on his official policy page (where he also says corruption should be punishable by death), and believes Trump is a genius for pulling out of Syria to allow Islam to implode on itself:
He regularly uses “DEUS VULT”, the rallying cry of the Christian Crusades, which killed between 1 and 9 millions people according to historians.
He’s also not a big fan of the idea of red flag laws:
Doug is really running. He has filed his paperwork to run as a Republican, and loaned his campaign over $3000:
The Tennessee delegation to congress is already full of questionable characters who encourage violence. Just this week Rep. Mark Green supported the idea of “Declaring War on Democrats”.
But Doug Meyer appears to be a horse of a different color.
The question is this: Is the Tennessee Republican Party ok with him running on their ticket?
And if you have anything to say to Doug Meyer, or Facebook for that matter, here’s his page.
And here’s his website.
His “Why I’m Running” Page says:
“Congress is broken. On the one side, The Democrats have become so aggressively and shamelessly anti-American that one can’t often tell them apart from Revolutionary Communists, and, increasingly, even terrorists. Worse yet, The Republicans are timid, directionless, weak and irresolute, and, therefore, in no moral position to counter The Left’s destructive foolishness. Career politicians on both sides have betrayed The Public Trust, and Institutionalized Corruption has destroyed Congress’ capacity for effective functional administration and oversight of Our Government. With scant few determined patriots in a position to protect her, Our Great Nation is being very intentionally and systematically injected with the poisonous doctrines and subversive agendas of weaponized political movements such as Liberalism, Globalism, Communism, and Islamic Jihad. But I believe that Our Republic is worth saving, that she is worth fighting for. Our hallowed dead demand that we stand in this the time of her greatest peril, and take Our Country back. It is time for a political revolution.
What Our American Founders fought and died to establish and protect, I will NEVER surrender.
I will not be bullied, I cannot be bought, and I fear none but God.
Please Pray for and Stand With Me.
God Save The Republic.”