Nice cover story on the schools brouhaha ("The School-Merger Muddle," April 5th issue). It was so comprehensive, it could have been called "Shelby County Schools for Dummies," but I guess that would have given the wrong idea. I also thought the cover image was brilliant. Kudos to the Flyer for its unparalleled coverage of this very important issue.
Sometimes terrible tragedies can bring about good things. The senseless killing of unarmed youth Trayvon Martin may be such a case (The Rant, April 5th issue). Everyone I know — black, white, or Hispanic — is outraged by this horrible incident. The silver lining may just be the salvation of our country.
As everyone is now aware, Florida's "shoot anyone you feel like shooting" law was enacted by Republicans. To date, not a single Republican has spoken out to condemn the idiotic law that the police cited in letting the killer go free. To date, literally millions of Americans have signed petitions condemning this outrage and demanding justice. Most of these people vote. Hopefully, the death of Trayvon Martin, tragic and unnecessary as it was, will help prevent our country from falling into the hands of a political party that is striving to destroy our poor and middle classes by eliminating Social Security, Medicare, and public education in order to finance the jet-set lifestyles of the wealthy. Sometimes the senseless death of innocents can leave a valuable legacy for the rest of us.
A Rappin' Key
The mayor of Memphis recently awarded a key to the city to a 9-year-old rapper. Really? There are so many people living in Memphis who make real contributions and bring about real change to the city without any local or national fanfare. The names of a couple of organizations and a couple of people come to mind when I think about who really deserves a key to the city:
Melvena C. Leake, a retired school teacher from the Memphis City Schools system, used a part of her own retirement funds to create the much-needed nonprofit organization Karat Place, Inc., a group home for women who can start their lives over after release from prison. Numbers of women have moved on to independent, successful, and productive lives because of her selfless generosity.
Or Ernest Donelson II, a longtime foot soldier in the fight for prevention of the spread of AIDS, not only in the African-American community in Memphis but all of Shelby County. Donelson, a former drug addict, is one of Memphis' major advocates for clean and sober living and preventing the spread of the deadly AIDS virus. Donelson has dedicated the majority of his adult life to helping this community as appreciation for his own sobriety.
Mr. Mayor, if you are truly sincere about recognizing people who play a vital role in bringing positive change to Memphis, please recognize people like the two people I mention here before the value of the key diminishes from being handed out to these damn rappers.
GOP Has Itself to Blame
When the Republicans lose this fall, party leaders should not blame the eventual presidential nominee. They should blame themselves. In recent years, the party's best and brightest have remained mute while right-wing ideologues seized control of the party. Republican candidates have moved steadily to the right — condemning immigrants, promising war in Iran, vowing never to raise taxes on anyone, and they now are targeting women and contraception.
These extreme elements have trashed the party's reputation by bringing the nation's attention to one embarrassing and unelectable candidate after another: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum. Now, with polls showing independent voters swinging to Obama by a margin of 22 points, mainstream Republicans are shaking their heads, but where were they when the party was being redefined by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party? They were silent and hoping the insanity would soon pass. It hasn't, and they will pay a heavy price for it.