Irony, Thy Name Is Tennessee

May 10th, 2018

When you create state laws just to keep one city from being able to name its own parks, when you create state commissions just to keep the same city from moving a statue, when you quietly add money to the state budget to support that city only so you can loudly remove it to punish that city, maybe you shouldn’t be surprised when that city laughs at your sudden warm interest in their rights, concerns and well-being during an election year.

If you’re in Memphis, you have few friends in Nashville.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, May 11, 2018, and in The Memphis News, May 12-18, 2018

Jeff Davis Pedestal


Last week in advance of the primary, I read with interest multiple accounts of the Shelby County Republican Party’s outrage with the candidacy of one of their own, Keith Alexander, for property assessor.

It seems that they’ve just discovered that he was a former officer of the Council of Conservative Citizens – an outfit that Joseph Goebbels would be proud of – and that they’ve just heard, pun definitely intended, about his role as co-host of a radio program aptly named “The Political Cesspool” – a piece of particularly nasty air that causes one to question whether we’ve evolved after all.

Like Claude Rains in Casablanca, they were “shocked” to find all that out about Alexander – even though he’s been about this sort of thing for years – even though he was the party’s candidate for assessor in the last election.

Please. They knew this guy. If it weren’t for the efforts of the Rev. Canon Laura Gettys to make sure the slime saw the light of day and the reporting of it by Marc Perrusquia, the slime would have stayed under that dark rock.

All this brings me to the oh-so-righteous indignation expressed by Shelby County Republican Party Chair, Lee Mills, on the editorial page of The Commercial Appeal as he belatedly and spectacularly threw Alexander under the bright red bus.

He shared a resolution of Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee, in part:

“BE IT RESOLVED …that we denounce all white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups.”

(Except, of course, any statue or monument to anyone who might have actually have started or led such a group. That’s okay because he was, like, really sorry.)

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED … that we fiercely oppose any kind of radical, racist bigotry or hate that these groups espouse.”

(Except, you understand, any statue or monument to anyone who actually went to war in order to preserve the right to sell human beings. That’s okay because, well, just because.)

After the horrific punishment of returning Alexander’s $25 sustaining membership, Mills also shared the “real Republican message” including this:

“We believe most decisions should be made at the local level closer to the problem.”

(Except, obviously, when those decisions differ with the super majority in Nashville, we reserve the right to stomp on the rights and feelings of the super majority in Memphis, and to decide what’s right and proper in their parks, schools, etc., and, yea verily, to craft statewide laws just to put Memphis in its place. That’s okay because, hey, we can.)

Irony, thy name is Tennessee.

In fact, I propose that be the inscription below a new statue to stand on one of our empty park pedestals that used to hold the celebrated icons of human trafficking. Perhaps, it should be representative of a large single digit extended to the east, symbolically mirroring the single digital salute the state legislature regularly gives us.

I’m a Memphian, and if anybody in the state legislature finds my suggestion offensive, you’ve been offending this city for years.


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