Radical 'Cesspool' Host a Commentator on CNN

Into the Mainstream

When CNN decided to tackle the question of "self segregation" of racial groups in America this April 4, host Paula Zahn lined up a panel of commentators who seemed like they'd make for a lively discussion.

There was Molly Secours, a white liberal who writes a column for Blackcommentator.com; Jesse Lee Petersen, a right-wing black activist who founded the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny; Roland Martin, a regular CNN contributor and black radio show host; and finally, rounding out the panel that was to provide commentary during the hour-long special on "Paula Zahn Now," there was 27-year-old James Edwards, who Zahn introduced sparely as the host of a radio show on WLRM-AM in Memphis, Tenn., called "The Political Cesspool." Edwards isn't kidding about that cesspool.

Zahn made it clear that she didn't have a position on self segregation in American neighborhoods and schools. "We're not making a judgment here," she told the panel before their first televised exchange.The acolyte of white nationalist Pat Buchanan, for whose 2000 presidential campaign he worked, Edwards has played host to a "Who's Who" of the worst of the American radical right for the last two years now. His guests have included neo-Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke; long time Klan attorney Sam Dickson; leading anti-Semitic publisher Willis Carto; Nick Griffin, leader of the whites-only British National Party; Michael Hill, the League of the South leader who defends slavery as "God-ordained"; Prussian Blue, a singing duo composed of teenaged neo-Nazi twin girls; raging anti-Semitic attorney Edgar Steele; and scores of others.

The shaven-headed Edwards, on the other hand, certainly had. He said it was "natural and healthy" for whites to seek out those who shared "the same values and traditions and heroes." "There's nothing enriching for white schoolchildren to be bused across town to gang-ridden schools," he said.

Edwards went on to lambaste "the failed civil rights movement." "Forced integration is not a path to equality, it's a march toward totalitarianism," he said, adding that white liberals should spend a week "on the mean streets of South Memphis" to learn the realities of black America. He berated the support of many Christian churches and individuals for the civil rights movement, saying the role of the church is "not to preach the failed gospel of cultural Marxism."

Forty minutes into the program, returning from a commercial break, Zahn did fleetingly refer to Edwards as a "white separatist." But there was no further indication of the nature of the self-described "unabashed crusader" for whites. For some people, the whole thing was a bit much. Reacting to an Edwards tirade about school integration, Roland Martin shook his head. "It is offensive," he said, "to project this level of ignorance on national television."