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Does a "Post Racial" Memphis Mean the Same for WPLX?

The Unholy Alliance of "King Willie" and "Thaddy Bear" Helps Yield Bitter Fruit for the Old Democratic Guard -- by Ben "Benqq" Harrison

(posted August 6, 2010, 2:22 pm) Democratic candidates, remember this: on behalf of former Mayor Willie Herenton, WPLX had turned its air waves into daily diatribes, intoxicated with unrestrained low polemics, that transgressed ever deeper across racial lines, against incumbent Steve Cohen, the sitting two term House Member for the Ninth Congressional District. Now the party's over and do Democrats have a hangover.

And the few candidates that bought advertising May-July on the WPLX blog site, fared no better in the results than did Herenton: they all lost, including Joe Ford, Randy Wade and Taurus Bailey. Thaddeus might be able to pull in the ratings, but not everybody who tunes in buys his product: rhetoric. In fact, again judging by the election results, very few do. Further, his rhetoric may have been associated with the candidates supporting his site by advertising on it. The dogs you lay down with...

When asked by WREG's Alex Coleman if he would do anything different after his resounding defeat that he could only justify as a "referendum" personally on him and not reflective on the qualities of his opponent, former mayor Willie Herenton said he wouldn't. Wouldn't? That sounded so much like the Willie of old, the guy who liked to boast he did his things "his way" and there was no one else smart enough to run the mayor's office (except, I suggest, most any thoughtful University of Memphis student who is not yet shackled by local politics).

But would he completely misread his base again? In fact, his base was an illusion hovering like a slave ghost ship creaking down the Mississippi. Listen closely, you can hear the whip of a "Jewish slave master," or Willie Lynch himself reading his how-to instruction guide on keeping your slaves in submission for fun and profit. Except it wasn't Willie reading, it was WPLX radio owner Thaddeus Matthews, attempting to make a connection between Steve Cohen and slave holders and Jews.

Herenton hated most of the media, but he loved talk show race-meister Thaddeus Matthews, who took credit for creating his inherently flawed--any claim a race inherently deserves a congressional district raises a snake nest of issues, not the least of which is democracy doesn't work that way-"Just One" campaign theme. It works like this: whoever wins deserves to represent the party in his or her district. Race doesn't qualify him or her nor does the racial gerrymandering of the congressional district that Thaddeus touted nonstop.

Anyway, guess what happened? The ground shifted for the second time. A white Jewish man won the Democratic primary and, just as history making but not as much recognized last night in the media, a black woman, Charlotte Bergmann, won the Republican. Bergmann is smart, literate and savvy. I think she will continue the primary Ninth Congressional District revolution by reaching many of the voters disaffected by Herenton and not thrilled by two-termer career politician Cohen saddled with Obama's policies. (cont. above)
So here's The News: the local Democratic "black power brokers" (borrowing from Matthew's favorite conspiracy group, the "white power brokers") have lost traditional control of black voters in Memphis. County mayor candidate John Ford explained his loss to Mark Luttrell, as being victim to the "swing vote" away from the Democrats.

Maybe that's true in other parts, but not all of the story here. His interpretation leaves out the "swing away" from local racial politics by all categories, not just younger, black voters who responded negatively to Matthews' constant harangue to maintain black hegemony in Memphis for the sake of blackness.

Perhaps black voters were thinking jobs--and how the Democrat's' are looking to, in effect, amnesty millions of undocumented workers that will soak up entry level, skilled and unskilled job opportunities for legal workers, including blacks. Blacks may be sensing a betrayal from the party that would be willing even to undermine their job outlook in exchange the huge Hispanic voting block. Thanks for the memories. Now, we'll make a few for you.

Herenton's and Matthews desperate hold not only to old race protest ideology in his campaign kickoff, but later in his campaign, to flat out Rev. Wright style race radicalism, regularly demonstrated by his major media supporter, Thaddeus Matthews.

In that latter time period, Matthews accused Jews of various conspiracies, not the least of which was manipulating numbers in a poll, conducted by Yacoubian Research, that showed Cohen would win big, way big, by getting only 15% of the black vote. Matthews proclaimed repeatedly on air, "Channel 5 got a jew to poll a Jew and the Jew that did the polling for the other Jew came back and said that the Jew was going to get sixty five percent of the vote."

Official returns: Herenton 21%, Cohen 70%. Yep, the entire black community of the 9th Congressional District was in on the conspiracy. Matthews did his buddy no service and neither did Herenton when he did not repudiate such tactics.

So, Herenton wouldn't change a thing in his campaign? Yep, this is the old Willie. The old Matthew's too. Old soldiers both, just playin' the Delta blues.

related previous
Thaddeus Matthews first story, links to followups
Willie Herenton's Campaign Kickoff with pictures (scroll down when there)
Charlotte Bergmann, 9th Cong. Rep. primary candidate

Posted July 25, 2010 by Benqq
Ninety seven days ago oil started rupturing from the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico. After months of standing by impotently with a President that acted like he didn't get it and a company that acted like it didn't care, Mary Matalin said the people there faced a "fresh hell" every day on top of the local lives lost as they watched in slow motion the unbelievable environmental homicide of the their ocean and coast. Frustration erupted into sci-fi talk of having to nuke the hole once and for all and turning the ocean floor into thick melted layer of solid rock. Wanna go for swim in that?

Perhaps the active hemorhage is under control. But what's left is/are huge subsurface lakes of oil floating around like Dracula's mists and they can't even find them. Sentient animals flee to safer environs far away. New life chokes and dies in the ocean grass that's always "since time immemorial" provided a first stage home. Certainly I and maybe there's not an expert anywhere really know what the ocean floor looks like once the oil cloud settles in. Is it gooey and thick, gluing shut claws and eyes or does an unseen residue simply poison everything? Or does it cause consequences we can't even imagine years from now? Whatever it is, we know its not good.

Once the sinking realization set in that it was going to be very hard to plug the hole, I heard talk of the event being a "planet killer." I thought of Cormac McCarthy's book and recent film The Road where the sun had disappeared and the earth was turned into a gray dirty dead zone where people ate what they could find and each other. There were other cataclysmic environmental movies like Jane Fonda's The China Syndrome and Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times and scores of others thereafter. (But The Road wins the Why-Put-Another-Foot Before-the-Other? award.)

It was the movie The China Syndrome and its simultaneous art-imitating-life doppleganger at Three Mile Island, that got me interested in making a "light" environmental satire I called The Cinema Syndrome, a film school master's project. Fellow Memphian William Donati who now records his music, writes and teaches literature at the University of Las Vegas starred with actor and technical friends. Panavision even donated camera equipment. Anyway, it became our very little short contribution to cataclysmic films. We shot Bill's song, "The Nuclear Surfer," around Southern Cal, including the San Onofre nuclear power plant, apparently much to their annoyance. With the internet, Nuclear Surfer continues to make some fans on YouTube and through his distributer, CD Baby.

Cast sings about a "nuclear innovation" in a cataclysmic movie--lower left inset Harrison and Donati

We've come to trust the technology. We believe we can and will always, without fail, never allow even one accident to occur. When they do, artists and writers do their thing in response while the real solution providers-- those engineers and techns work nonstop to do the critical fix. It appears the fix is in in the Gulf. Maybe not. We'll soon go back to believing we've beat that threat of the unforeseen, that cataclysmic vulnerability, brought on by one bad computer code line among millions or that coffee spilt over a console and leaded down to a wire.

One thing for sure: always a little surprise ahead.

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