Letters to the Editor 

Burma and Katrina

I am a conservative, but generally I like your newspaper. I just don't agree with your politics. But I couldn't ignore the recent "Rant" by Tim Sampson (May 8th issue).

Regarding Laura Bush's criticism of the Burma junta's handling of the cyclone crisis, Sampson said that her remarks were "perhaps the most stupid thing a person in a position of power has said in a long, long time." He then cited the U.S. government's failing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Katrina recovery was indeed a fiasco — at all levels of government. The primary responsibility was with the local government, but Sampson can't bring himself to criticize a liberal, black Democratic mayor. The secondary responsibility was with the state, but he can't criticize a liberal, woman Democratic governor. The federal government, acting in a support role, did fail also, but to compare that to the junta in Burma, which is intentionally preventing aid from coming in to help the 1.5 million people affected, is ridiculous. On Friday, the junta seized two planeloads of supplies and stopped more supplies from coming in.

This liberal rant was beyond the acceptable gibberish that I usually ignore.

Rhett Hailey


Let's Dance

Oh, the irony of last week's Flyer (May 8th issue). Seems like Lloyd Binford had a hold on Memphis then just as Willie Herenton does now ("Banned in Memphis"). That's why Bruce VanWyngarden's column was so refreshing. As an outsider, he "gets" Memphis.

And that's why Melissa Peterson, editor of Edible Memphis, left Oregon and landed in Memphis — because she gets it. That's why my friends Bruce and Terri moved here from Michigan, secured jobs in downtown Memphis, and then relocated to Cooper-Young. They get Memphis.

As a native Memphian, I get it too. I get Al Green, Isaac Hayes, AutoZone, Stax, Shelby Farms, William Eggleston, Justin Timberlake, the Neelys on the Food Network, Cybill Shepherd, A. Schwab, Shelby Forest, Peter Taylor, FedEx, Sun Studio, Cat Power, Bill Dance, Shelby Foote, and Aretha. The Rolling Stones and U2 get Memphis, as well as countless others from around the world. We can be grateful for the creative, musical, culinary, literary, and business stars of our city. The list goes on and on.

It is time we realize that Memphis is on the verge of a renaissance. We may not be proud of Binford or Herenton, but they too shall pass. In the words of Memphis native and best-selling author Hampton Sides [from the April 2008 Memphis magazine]: "In some ways Memphis has blazed far ahead of the national curve of race relations, and in others ways we've lagged far behind. But no matter how you cut it, the best aspects of our city have all depended upon the creative ferment of black meeting white."

I am convinced it's the intersection of the Mississippi and the artesian wells. It's Memphis. It's May. It's beautiful. So, get out on your front porch and dance!

Ann Smithwick


Lloyd Binford

It is always good to see a Michael Finger byline in the Flyer. More please.

It is not hard to guess what Lloyd Binford ("Banned in Memphis," May 8th issue) might think about violence on film — Saw III, Hostel II — and in games — Grand Theft Auto today. Given the general violence which makes residents in every quarter of the city anxious, he just might be right in thinking that there is a connection between the glorification of violence and actual mayhem in the streets.

The age of goverment-appointed censors has passed, but we still need some "censorship" rules created in households. Parents, guardians, and mentors are vital as stewards of values for healthy families and communities.

Ken Hall


Thomas Boggs

Two of the most momentous occasions in my life are associated with Thomas Boggs (Editorial, May 8th issue): when we became partners in 1975 and when he died on May 5th. One event opened and the other closed a remarkable era for me.

Thomas' energy and commitment were legendary. He was a go-to guy, a man who got things done. His extraordinary legacy will resonate throughout this, his beloved community, for many years and in many ways. This is a true measure of greatness and the certain testament to his own.

I was honored to be this great man's business partner for over 30 years. And more so to be his friend.

John C. "Jay" Sheffield III



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