Racist Memphis Radio Host Celebrated at Council of Conservative Citizens Conference
In Tennessee, a Racist Radio Host Thrives
By David Holthouse
When the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) held its annual national conference June 1 and 2 at a Holiday Inn in Greenville, S.C., James Edwards was the golden boy of the hate group's proceedings.
Edwards, 27, is the host of "The Political Cesspool," a shamelessly white nationalist radio talk show that's broadcast for two hours every weeknight from a studio near Memphis, Tenn., where Edwards grew up and still lives.
"The Political Cesspool" in the past two years has become the primary radio nexus of hate in America. Its sponsors include the CCC and the Institute for Historical Review, a leading Holocaust denial organization. Its guest roster for 2007 reads like a "Who's Who" of the radical racist right. CCC leader Gordon Lee Baum, Holocaust denier Mark Weber, Canadian white supremacist Paul Fromm, American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor, neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald, Stormfront webmaster Jamie Kelso and League of the South president Michael Hill have all been favorably interviewed on the "Political Cesspool" this year, along with former Klan leader and neo-Nazi David Duke, the show's most frequent celebrity racist guest, who has logged three appearances.
"I have known Dr. Duke for a number of years and have found him to be a Christian man above reproach," Edwards says on the "Cesspool" website. "Time and again, he has gone out of his way to help me, asking for nothing in return."
Edwards is quite a bit younger than the majority of CCC members who attended the South Carolina conference. Many of those members' involvement in the white supremacist movement dates back to the White Citizens Councils that were formed to oppose school desegregation and the civil rights movement and were later reincarnated as the CCC. Edwards sat with his wife at a table near the back of the conference hall, engaging in conversation with a nearly constant stream of admirers who looked twice his age or more. They slapped his back and shook his hand and congratulated him not only on the success of "Political Cesspool" — which is tailored for a southern, neo-Confederate, white nationalist audience — but also his recent triumphs in smoothly injecting white nationalist ideology into national mainstream media discussions of race relations and crime in America.
Edwards arrived at the hate group conference just three days after his third primetime appearance on CNN in the previous two months. "Crime and violence follow African-Americans wherever they go," he said in his April 4 CNN debut, a panel debate on "self-segregation" hosted by Paula Zahn. "And if you think that is racist, then spend some time on the mean streets of south Memphis."
Zahn, who initially identified Edwards to CNN viewers as merely a "radio talk show host" from Memphis, invited him back on May 21 for a "Paula Zahn Now" episode titled "The Changing Face of America."
"Why not celebrate the diversity?" Zahn asked him in one exchange.
"My primary interest is to protect and safeguard my family," Edwards replied. "Whites are in for the fight of their lives. America is becoming balkanized. We are being robbed of having a future in the very nation our ancestors carved from the wilderness."
David Duke, who calls Edwards his "favorite radio patriot," gave the "Cesspool" host's CNN appearances a glowing online review: "He delivered a powerful performance, stuck to his guns and didn't back down as he articulated an unapologetically conservative viewpoint regarding race relations."
Edwards began garnering similar accolades from his elders on the radical right last year as the "Cesspool" gained a larger and larger audience. (Although the show is broadcast only regionally on the airwaves, anyone can listen to it on the Internet.) "James is a bundle of energy and dedication who is deeply concerned about the genocide against European-Americans," white nationalist Bob Whitaker stated online after appearing on the show. "He is also wiser than many of the older members of our movement. … He sticks with legitimate complaints that gentiles have and our fear of the genocide of immigration and intermarriage that respectable conservatives all advocate. The Political Cesspool is one of the first major steps toward making our perfectly legitimate and generally felt concerns — the ones that are presently denounced as heresy, racism and hate — the mainstream."
The "Cesspool" host is a rising star of the white nationalist movement because he's articulate, charming and equally at ease in a television studio, behind a radio microphone and standing in front of a crowd. He was a specially invited guest speaker at the CCC conference. His topic: "Creating Your Own Media." CCC National Field Coordinator Bill Lord told a "Martin Luther Coon" joke in his introduction of Edwards. Lord and other longtime CCC members casually dropped racial epithets at the conference, but Edwards carefully avoided using such crudely derogatory language, as he always does when speaking in public, on the airwaves or to the media. Edwards allies himself with hate group leaders who call black people "niggers," but he doesn't drop the N-bomb himself. Instead he speaks in the more or less polished code of a suit-and-tie racist, calling blacks "heathen savages," "subhumans," and "black animals," exclusively in the context of discussing violent black-on-white crime.
His audience of about 150 at the CCC conference included Jared Taylor, whose magazine specializes in race "studies," and Don Black, the former Alabama grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of Stormfront, the largest racist forum on the Internet.
Edwards began by quoting Mississippi civil rights activist Fanny Lou Hamer, telling the crowd that he is "sick and tired of being sick and tired" when it comes to reverse discrimination against white people. He described "Political Cesspool" as "unabashedly pro-white" and detailed the show's early success in rallying Memphis whites to "defend" the gravesite of Confederate cavalry general Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first national leader of the original KKK. The gravesite was the subject of a protest in August 2005 led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, at which about 200 whites squared off against a few dozen black Sharpton supporters.
"Sharpton denigrated the general's gravesite with that kind of rabble there," Edwards said. He then boasted of the lavish all-expenses-paid treatment afforded him by CNN, including, he said, fine hotels and limousine rides. Edwards finished by announcing that "as a result of listener demand, support from station ownership and a surge of interest from the recent CNN exposure," beginning the following week "Political Cesspool" would expand from one hour per weeknight to two.
He received a standing ovation.
Biased and Controlled
The radio station that carries "Political Cesspool" — WLRM-AM — is a Christian station (WLRM stands for "We Love Radio Ministries," according to its website). Most of its programming consists of standard nationally syndicated conservative Christian "news and views" content that is often homophobic but generally non-racist, including a two-hour weekday show by the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a well-known anti-gay minister who is African-American.
WLRM is not audited by Arbitron, the radio industry's equivalent of the Nielsen Ratings system, so there's no reliable estimate of the number of "Political Cesspool" listeners. Advertising on the show is cheap: $100 a week for a regular plug. Edwards describes "Cesspool" as primarily "listener-supported," and the show's website claims it has received nearly $15,000 in donations this year.