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Mean spirits 'teabillies' bring shame to the South

Killian-TN-forumPam Sohn, The Times Free Press, 6/6/13

I can count only two times I've ever been embarrassed to be Southern or Tennessean.

The first was when I was a child and George Wallace was grandstanding on television with a crowd of toothless and drawling supporters around him. I thought: Oh, no, now the whole country will think none of us have teeth.

The second was when I read the newspaper Wednesday morning and learned that U.S. Attorney Bill Killian was jeered by a roomful of people who have forgotten that their ancestors once were immigrants here looking for freedom to exercise their own religion -- one that wasn't so welcome in England or Germany or Ireland or any number of the many countries our great- and great-great- and great-great-great- grandparents came from.

Times Free Press reporter Ben Benton watched the circus Tuesday evening and said some 350 people were in the room and many were shouting things at Killian, the man who defends their rights to live safely all over East Tennessee day in and day out.

They called him "traitor" and "serpent" because he dared to try to bring understanding -- an understanding that propagating hate is no different from bullying in schools. An understanding that they can say they don't like Muslims, but they can't threaten one, or vandalize their church, or burn their church down -- as happened some years ago.

Benton said another 80 people were in the lobby listening on loudspeakers, and still another 200 or more were outside carrying protest signs.

Of course, Killian wasn't their primary target -- no pun intended -- from the mob now labeled "teabillies."

What really has these folks whipped up is a community of Muslims who have built the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. (Full article)

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