Wednesday, January 05, 2005

MLK Alleged Marital Infidelities: Prove This To Me

Another good one from grannyhelen:

We're rapidly approaching the King Holiday, which falls on January 17th this year. Intermixed among schoolchildren reciting the "I Have a Dream" speech and the posthumous accolades rightly heaped upon this man of peace and nonviolence are threads of the "flawed King". The reckless King who had extramarital affairs, even when he knew the FBI was conducting surveillance on his every move.

Why, people ask, did King cavort around when he knew the government was lying in wait for him? Why indeed.

I ask a different question: why do Americans so willfully accept that a black man of such mythic proportions did sleep around on his wife, without skepticism or examination of the facts at hand?

Everyone from Michael Eric Dyson to David Garrow to Stormfront has carried these allegations forward to the present day. Adam Wolfson, editor of The Public Interest, cites the evidence for these claims in an otherwise excellent article on King:

The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover's direction, and with the official authorization of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, wiretapped King's phones. Some of these records are still under government seal, but we already know a great deal about what the FBI unearthed, since the agency at the time shared its findings with journalists and congressmen. In its campaign against King, the FBI went so far as to send King a tape recording of one of his supposed trysts and a letter encouraging him to take his own life.

So, basically we've got the FBI's word on the matter. For many folks, I'm sure this is sufficient. But not for me. Here's why:

1. Motive

According to the Church Committee report:

"From December 1963 until his death in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the target of an intensive campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to "neutralize" him as an effective civil rights leader. In the words of the man in charge of the FBI's "war" against Dr. King:

No holds were barred. We have used [similar] techniques against Soviet agents. [The same methods were] brought home against any organization against which we were targeted. We did not differentiate. This is a rough, tough business."

The Church Committee report goes onto explain Hoover's personal stake in this matter of discrediting King:

The FBI campaign to discredit and destroy Dr. King was marked by extreme personal vindictiveness. As early as 1962, Director Hoover penned on an FBI memorandum, "King is no good." 9 At the August 1963 March on Washington, Dr. King told the country of his dream that "all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, I'm free at last."' 10 The FBI's Domestic Intelligence Division described this "demagogic speech" as yet more evidence that Dr. King was "the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country." 11 Shortly afterward, Time magazine chose Dr. King as the "Man of the Year," an honor which elicited Director Hoover's comment that "they had to dig deep in the garbage to come up with this one." 12 Hoover wrote "astounding" across the memorandum informing him that Dr. King had been granted an audience with the Pope despite the FBI's efforts to prevent such a meeting. The depth of Director Hoover's bitterness toward Dr. King, a bitterness which he had effectively communicated to his subordinates in the FBI, was apparent from the FBI's attempts to sully Dr. King's reputation long after his death. Plans were made to "brief" congressional leaders in 1969 to prevent the passage of a "Martin Luther King Day." In 1970, Director Hoover told reporters that Dr. King was the "last one in the world who should ever have received" the Nobel Peace Prize.

Additionally, it appears that King's "personal conduct" was the lynchpin to the most effective efforts of the FBI's to discredit King. The Church Committee cited the importance to the FBI of using Dr. King's "personal behavior" against him:

"Our investigation indicates that FBI officials believed that some of Dr. King's personal conduct was improper. Part of the FBI's efforts to undermine Dr. King's reputation involved attempts to persuade Government officials that Dr. King's personal behavior would be an embarrassment to them."

The FBI's insistence on sharing this information with the press and prominent politicians further illustrates how important it was for the FBI to prove that not only did King have extramarital affairs, but that the nature of them was purportedly "over the top" and "repugnant", including spreading allegations of sleeping with white women, and sleeping with prostitutes the evening of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. It is clear that the dissemination of this image of King was vital to the FBI's efforts to discredit him, therefore the FBI had motive to fabricate information where necessary in order to tarnish King's reputation.

2. Means

The central question to this issue is, "could the FBI really lie about someone to this extent"? King family attorney William Pepper cites in his book, "An Act of State" that there is some evidence that the FBI put pressure on King to stay overnight at the Lorraine Motel, as they had put the word out through friendly media that King did not support black-owned businesses because he stayed in white-owned hotels like the Rivermont. Indeed, Pepper has said that King never stayed overnight at the Lorraine:

"Martin King was naïve, totally naïve. He never stayed overnight at the Lorraine Motel. He came there for day meetings but never stayed overnight. I know this because I know the black detectives who used to guard him and where they were. I know where he stayed every time he was in Memphis. He never stayed at the Lorraine. But he came to the Lorraine on the third of April because he was told This is where you have to go to show your solidarity with the poor people and stay overnight Martin, don't go to the Rivermont or one of those other hotels. He was supposed to be in a court room, 202, down below where he was safe, protected. And somehow, mysteriously he got moved to room 306. Because there was a `request' that he be moved to room 306 so he could have a better view. He was manipulated. He didn't have proper security. Of course he paid the ultimate price."

As Dexter King cites in his book, "Growing Up King", evidence presented in King v. Jowers trial transcripts also cites that Dr. King's room was moved from a protected bottom floor room to a more open room on the second floor, based on a telephone call from "someone in King's entourage". No one has ever identified who this caller was.

Therefore, I also believe that if it is possible that the FBI could have had a hand in assassinating Dr. King it is also possible that they could fabricate all-too-useful evidence of King's alleged "infidelities". Frankly, there is better factual, objective evidence of voter fraud in Ohio than there is of King's alleged extramarital affairs, so until someone can point me to more a compelling source than the compromised FBI, I cannot hang the title of "adulterer" over King's head.

--ed. note: We do not support the theory that the FBI had a hand in King's assassination.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we accept it for the same reason we accept JFK having affairs, because they both did.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Egarwaen said...

Anonymous - "They both did" is totally and utterly meaningless. We don't know anything unless we have evidence to verify it. As grannyhelen showed here, quite convincingly, the evidence for MLK's alleged affairs appears to originate (almost?) entirely with the FBI, an organization that, at the time, had sworn to destroy him and his movement by any means necessary.

Seems perfectly logical to me that they fabricated it.

Comparing him with JFK further muddies the waters. Even if JFK did have extramarital affairs, this says nothing about whether or not MLK did. In case you didn't notice, JFK is not MLK, even though they share one initial.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Mary-Jo Weber said...

It doesn't make a difference. What MLK had to say is true and valid independent of who said it. These tactics to discredit people are merely distractions from the truth. None of us are without sin, that doesn't mean no one has important things to contribute. This whole debate is framed by right wing politicians who want to continue to dismantle our civil liberties while taking a holier than thou stance.

At 2:40 AM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

Compliments. Best wishes.


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