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Brewing Hubbub: Where Was the Media at Carson Appearance?

April 24, 2013

We certainly did not expect to be the only ones reporting on Dr. Ben Carson’s stirring speech at the University of Memphis last week, but sure ’nuff, that’s what happened. Today the Commercial Appeal printed a Letter to the Editor (“Where Was the Media?” ) calling them out for their lack of coverage.

A heated exchange is occurring online as I write this post. Commenters fall into two camps: those who say things like,

“…an African-American conservative?” That’s the equivalent of a Ku Klux Klan liberal.” and,

“There are only two reasons an AA would be conservative: they’ve either lost their moorings or, against all odds, they’ve succeeded and want to keep their fellow AA’s down.”

or this:

“Shhhh. Blacks aren’t supposed to know they don’t have to be Democrats.” and this:

“You are asking the plantation owners to cover and celebrate an escaped slave. Don’t expect it. Dr. Carson speaks truth and reason to the misguided and deceiving Left: their policies don’t work and never have.”

The nationwide groundswell of African American conservatism is forcing many generational Democrats to engage in tough inner dialogues. “Black Republican” is an oxymoron seeking legitimacy. Reality seeking affirmation of existence.

In Memphis, the majority of citizens and voters wouldn’t dream of voting for anyone but a fellow Democrat, and newfangled notions presented by Dr. Ben Carson can fall into the category of  The Unthinkable.

But then,  Ben Carson has an irrefutable kind of street cred. The NAACP gave him  its highest award. He grew up in seeing murders in the streets of his rough Detroit and Boston neighborhoods. He escaped from a childhood  of desperate poverty, anger, low self esteem and failing school performance to become one of the most  honored, admired and successful black men in America.The  values he champions are the same shared  by many preachers, fellow Christians, parents and  grandparents  in every  black neighborhood across Memphis. If Ben Carson would just do the expected and call himself a Democrat, he wouldn’t be causing so much angst.

Telling his fellow African Americans they can own their own thoughts? Now he’s gone to meddlin’, as Eddie would say.

This is a nation where labeling is rampant. Political leaders and partisan news outlets (that would be all of them, as we see it) employ manipulative language and selective reporting on a daily basis to impose their views on the masses. Sometimes they just lie outright. Generally, they get away with these tactics because most of us are too busy and distracted with our own lives to ferret out the truth. We tend to accept what we hear from the sources we choose to trust – not a good choice, when the result is a distorted view of reality.

So people get angry at those who hold opposing views on big issues, because they believe the other guy is the one who has it all wrong. They fume and rant, call each other names, try to craft the most insulting comments online, and indulge in behavior that is more attractive in four-year-olds.

fighting 4 yr olds

Can we get away from labeling and start a real conversation that leads to better understanding?

Eddie and I publish Back in River City to spotlight issues that matter to Memphis. Our goal is to promote productive discussion among Greater Memphians who share a desire to make Memphis a better place for all of us to live.  Productive discussion requires listening to opponents with an open mind. It requires mutual respect and a minimum of snark and condescension.

So bring your thoughts here, if you can do it without name-calling. You might just discover that people who hold opposite views from your own are not the demons you thought they were.

Let’s talk, Memphis!

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