The note is just a single sheet gone yellow with age, typewritten and tightly spaced. It’s rife with typos and misspellings and sprinkled with attempts at emending them. Clearly, some effort went into perfecting the tone, that of a disappointed admirer, appalled by the discovery of “hidious [sic] abnormalities” in someone he once viewed as “a man of character.”
The word “evil” makes six appearances in the text, beginning with an accusation: “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” In the paragraphs that follow, the recipient’s alleged lovers get the worst of it. They are described as “filthy dirty evil companions” and “evil playmates,” all engaged in “dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk.” The effect is at once grotesque and hypnotic, an obsessive’s account of carnal rage and personal betrayal. “What incredible evilness,” the letter proclaims, listing off “sexual orgies,” “adulterous acts” and “immoral conduct.” Near the end, it circles back to its initial target, denouncing him as an “evil, abnormal beast.”
The unnamed author suggests intimate knowledge of his correspondent’s sex life, identifying one possible lover by name and claiming to have specific evidence about others. Another passage hints of an audiotape accompanying the letter, apparently a recording of “immoral conduct” in action. “Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure,” the letter demands. It concludes with a deadline of 34 days “before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
“There is only one thing left for you to do,” the author warns vaguely in the final paragraph. “You know what it is.”
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received this letter, nearly 50 years ago, he quietly informed friends that someone wanted him to kill himself — and he thought he knew who that someone was. Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the F.B.I. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited. A little more than a decade later, the Senate’s Church Committee on intelligence overreach confirmed King’s suspicion.
Since then, the so-called “suicide letter” has occupied a unique place in the history of American intelligence — the most notorious and embarrassing example of Hoover’s F.B.I. run amok. For several decades, however, only significantly redacted copies of the letter were available for public scrutiny. This summer, while researching a biography of Hoover, I was surprised to find a full, uncensored version of the letter tucked away in a reprocessed set of his official and confidential files at the National Archives. The uncovered passages contain explicit allegations about King’s sex life, rendered in the racially charged language of the Jim Crow era. Looking past the viciousness of the accusations, the letter offers a potent warning for readers today about the danger of domestic surveillance in an age with less reserved mass media.
The F.B.I.’s entanglement with King began not as an inquiry into his sex life but as a “national security” matter, one step removed from King himself. In 1961, the bureau learned that a former Communist Party insider named Stanley Levison had become King’s closest white adviser, serving him as a ghostwriter and fund-raiser. The following year, Attorney General Robert Kennedy approved wiretaps on Levison’s home and office, and the White House advised King to drop his Communist friend. But thanks to their surveillance, the bureau quickly learned that King was still speaking with Levison. Around the same time, King began to criticize bureau practices in the South, accusing Hoover of failing to enforce civil rights law and of indulging the racist practices of Southern policemen.
An important post by Booth Gunter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, on claims of Voter Fraud and attempts to disenfranchise minorities. Make sure you also watch the video where Dorothy Guilford explains what it was like for her back in the days of poll taxes in the Jim Crow south.
Dorothy Guilford has a simple message for politicians who enact laws making it harder for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote: “I don’t think that’s right.”
She should know. She’s seen it all before.
Born in 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama, Guilford lived through most of the Jim Crow years, when laws discouraged African Americans like her, as well as poor white people, from voting.
When she first became eligible to vote, she had to take a literacy test and pay a poll tax of $1.50, a sum worth about $25 today. Anyone who couldn’t read or couldn’t pay the tax, which accumulated, couldn’t vote. Most white voters, however - those whose ancestors were on the voting rolls prior to the Civil War - were exempt from the test.
By Jonathan Rieder
Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963. AFP/Getty Images
What does white America owe black America? To even broach that question 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 seems straight-out wacky. Did not the election of a black president redeem the nation? At a minimum, it’s rude—refusing to avert the eyes from that elephant in the room: “America begins in black plunder and white democracy.” That’s how Ta-Nehisi Coates deemed it recently in his extraordinary “The Case for Reparations.”
Far from fringe lunacy, the idea of a primal debt was obvious to Martin Luther King Jr. Exactly 50 years ago this month in Why We Can’t Wait, his Harper & Row account of the Birmingham, Ala., protests, he made his own impassioned case for compensation. And yet no matter how much he shared Coates’ desire to square accounts, King would settle on a rival solution for the crimes of slavery and all the forms of racism that succeeded it.
My, Republican poster boy Cliven Bundy is the gift that keeps on giving — for Democrats, that is:
“If I say ‘Negro’ or ‘black boy’ or ‘slave,’ if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be [offended], then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet,” he added. “We need to get over this prejudice stuff.”
Hooooly cow. Professional Moocher, liar, and thief Cliven Bundy might just help cost the GOP a few dozen seats, given how many GOPsaurs (if you’ll pardon the pun) bet the farm on him.
David Futrelle exposes Warren Farrell and other “MRAs” who dishonored the memory of Martin Luther King, by denying that women played a significant role in the civil rights movement, ( or any movement for freedom or social justice for that matter ) despite the fact that they did. Also he points out how despite the fact that these people are trying to associate with the civil rights movement, many of them support white nationalist organizations.
On Monday, Martin Luther King Day here in the United States, this was posted in the Men’s Rights subreddit, where, as you can see, it was quite popular with the assembled Men’s Rightsers:
How wrong is this? Let me count the ways.
*There was a link in this part of the story that I quoted but I couldn’t get it to work on this site. Click on the read more link and you should see it when you read the Manboobz article. I also changed the title, because his wouldn’t fit.
Published on Jan 21, 2013
Chris Stedman, author of “Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious,” talks about the importance of storytelling and bridging the gap between different cultures and faiths. He was the annual Martin Luther King Jr. speaker for Montana State University, sponsored by the Diversity Awareness Office.
Liberals, as any conservative will tell you, are the real racists, so it’s no surprise that right-leaning news outlets would use the holiday honoring the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. to remind everyone of that fact.
‘The Twitchy Team is the most explicit, asking “Who are the racists again?” The answer, of course, is “the ones who trade in identity politics and who focus solely on color, not character.” And if anyone had forgotten that things should be the other way around, neurologist and tea party favorite Dr. Ben Carson was there to remind everyone.
The Daily Caller takes pains to remind its readers that, unlike liberals, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian: “As we observe the birthday of Dr. King, it would do us well to also remember Rev. King.”
Kevin Jackson at The American Thinker agrees, right down to the italics, asking “why is Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, now referred to as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?” The answer, he claims, is simply that “[t]he Left wants no remnants of the Christian revolution that changed this country.”
Also, because Monday is a day that ends in “y,” the answer is “Obama”: “Referring to King as ‘Dr. King’ implies that the Civil Rights movement was led by an academic, that academia brought us ‘change we can believe in.’”
Today should be a celebration of conservative values, Jackson concludes, because “[i]t was a black Republican Christian who changed America.”
Which makes perfect sense, because as Walter Hudson at Pajamas Media argues, King’s legacy is firmly in the hands of conservatives: “Who among those laying claim to King’s legacy sound like him today? Who among the organized Left advocates for objective freedom and true justice? Who rejects hatred and fosters the healing of racial divides? Al Sharpton? Jesse Jackson? Van Jones? Barack Obama? Who?”
None of them, that’s who. Conservatives have taken to heart MLK’s message about judging people by the content of their character, which is why almost every single conservative site has chosen to celebrate the national holiday in his honor by having a panic attack about an angry black man on their TV sets.
Someone going by the name of “HamdenRice” posted this on Daily Kos. He talks about his experiences as a black man, prior to the civil rights movement, and what Dr. King’s biggest achievement really was.
This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.
The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.
The reason I’m posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King’s legacy, and there is a diary up now (not on the rec list but on the recent list) entitled, “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream Not Yet Realized.” I’m sure the diarist means well as did the others. But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.
Miranda Blue Points out how a group with white nationalist ties is perverting the legacy of DR Martin Luther king Junior for its own ends, in order to trick Americans, including ones with African Ancestry into supporting them. This must be making King roll in his grave.
The appeal to King’s memory is more than a little ironic coming from a group that is tied to white nationalist John Tanton and that just this fall hired a founding member of the new-Confederate group League of the South. CAPS spokesman Joe Guzzardi, who announced in a press release that political leaders have “lost sight of Dr. King’s dream” has written dozens of blog posts for the white nationalist website VDARE.
Just when you thought conservatives couldn’t get any more stupid, Neal Boortz does just that:
YOU KNOW I’M GONNA SCREAM THAT THIS MARTIN LUTHER KING IS ALWAYS PORTRAYED AS BLACK!!!!11TY
And that was in response to a caller who said:
EVERYTHING’S GOTTA BE BLACK NOW DOESN’T MATTER WHAT IT IS!!!!!!11TY
Oh wait…silly me…I’ve been punked.
Neal Boortz was JOKING! Right? I mean this is like one of Rush’s “media tweaks.”
ZOMG! I am embarrassed to have my politically correct chain yanked so brazenly, but I am cracking up right now. Coffee all over the monitor and everything.
Neal Boortz is so edgy. He should be on The 1/2 Hour News Hour.