Letter from the Editor 

What kind of horror-movie hell transpired on Lester Street last week? There were shootings, stabbings, maybe even stranglings of nine men, women, and children. There had to be screams of shock and pain, cries of anguish, pleas for mercy. A half-dozen or more shots were fired and no neighbors called the police, because the sound of gunfire is so common there.

Newspaper columnists write about how we need to change the culture of violence. They demand that our leaders do something, dammit. They urge understanding and even forgiveness. Civic groups hold forums on race relations, where well-intentioned folks — black, white, and brown — discuss how we all can learn to "better understand one another." It's the intellectual equivalent of piling teddy bears against a fire hydrant and about as useful.

There are no great mysteries here, folks. Too many people in Memphis are stuck on a treadmill of poverty and ignorance. Most of us aren't racists. Most of us, black and white, want to break the cycle and heal our city. But how do we kick over the damn treadmill?

I never thought I'd say this, but we need a surge. And we need a leader who can sell a surge — a visionary, a bringer of hope, a straight talker. Just for the hell of it, let's imagine we came up with someone with the charisma of Barack Obama to run Memphis for a while.

I'd want him to sit down with a joint session of the City Council and County Commission and negotiate the immediate cooperative operation — and expansion — of all our police and sheriff functions. I'd want him to meet with business leaders and come up with innovative — and massive — job plans for youth. I'd want him to tell people to quit having babies out of wedlock, to pay attention to their kids, to make sure they're in school every day, and to keep them out of gangs. I'd want him speaking at our schools, meeting with neighborhood groups, churches, civic clubs — inspiring, provoking, motivating, leading!

Can we demand this kind of energy and performance from our leaders? I'd like to say, "Yes, we can," but I don't know if I believe that. Maybe it's a bottom-up deal. Maybe it's our job. What do you think?

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Common Sense Pot Policy

      Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...

Blogs

News Blog

MATA Security Guard Placed on Diversion in Passenger Death

News Blog

Top Guns: Shelby Tops Tennessee in Handgun Permits

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Movies and Video Games Meet at the Cossitt Library

News Blog

President Jimmy Carter Discusses His Work with Habitat

Politics Beat Blog

Haslam, in Memphis, Suggests Calling Special Session

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Politics and the Movies 3: Olympia

Intermission Impossible

"Small and Essential," New Quark Theatre Company Offers Alternatives

Intermission Impossible

Disgraced Sets A Course for Conflict

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

  • Common Sense Pot Policy

    Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Tales of New Orleans

    I'd reached the point in the evening when a gnat in my drink seemed more like a feature than a bug. I'd reached the point where that line seemed like comic genius, so I tweeted it. I'd reached the point where having a small dog walking up and down the bartop seemed perfectly normal. I'd reached peak New Orleans ...
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Schadenfreude at the Polls

    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Vendor in the Grass

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare

    Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.

    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Bombs Over Memphis

    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Je Suis Nigeria

    Keeping things in perspective is difficult when so many want to shape your opinion.
    • Jan 15, 2015
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation