In case you hadn’t heard, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dark side.
According to the sourcelink, there are FBI recordings and documents that describe them which allege that MLK Jr. had multiple extra-marital affairs (40 even!), and that he watched and egged on a pastor as he raped a woman back in the 60s.
King biographer David Garrow has the details about the tapes, which will be sealed until 2027 in the US National Archives.
By the way, if anyone has any information about why stuff gets sealed for arbitrary amounts of time, that’d be awesome. Because I don’t get it. What is it about 2027 that makes it the year everyone should finally hear these tapes?
Anyway, these tapes are apparently recordings from bugs that FBI Director J Edgar Hoover had placed in King’s hotel rooms in the 60s, when there was suspicion that MLK’s aide, Stanley Levison, was a commie. That surveillance, much like we’re likely to learn about Comey’s surveillance of the Trump campaign, was illegal. And in King’s case, that surveillance went on until his assassination in the late 60s.
Now, as the sourcelink points out, there are questions about how Garrow knows about these tapes/documents, and his article about them hasn’t even been released yet. But he won a Pulitzer for his biography of King in 1986, so people are gonna pay attention.
Apparently, there’s a memo which accompanies a tape recording that describes how MLK “looked on and laughed” as a pastor raped a woman in the hotel room. And there was discussion between King and others in the room (including women) about which women in the parish would be “suitable for natural and unnatural sex acts.” One of the women indicated her disapproval, and that’s when she was raped.
Super excited to hear from the #metoo movement on this one.
The next evening, at the same hotel, King and a bunch of other people had a big orgy. And when a woman who was in attendance decided she didn’t want to be involved with one of the “unnatural acts,” King and his buddies told her that doing it would “help her soul.”
Garrow also says that in 1964, the assistant FBI Director wrote a memo which paraphrased another recording of King in which he joked about starting up the “International Association for the Advancement of Pussy Eaters.”
Garrow suggests that this new information about MLK requires “the most complete and extensive historical review possible.”
So this is where we are. And I’m just trying to figure out why, if there are Actual Conversations taking place all over the country about changing our currency, removing statues of our Founding Fathers, removing Confederate flags, removing freaking CHICK FIL As from places, there’s not outrage over existing MLK statues and honors.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that such statues be removed. In fact, I generally feel the opposite – that it’s OK to recognize the achievements of people, even deeply flawed people, and to include them in museums, statues, etc. The fact that there are lunatics out there who are triggered by murals of George Washington is beyond insane. Yes, George Washington owned slaves. And yes, that’s terrible. But it’s also a representation of the times that he lived in, and it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s one of the FREAKING FOUNDERS OF OUR COUNTRY.
Martin Luther King Jr. clearly had issues, if we are to believe Garrow. But he was also an important historical figure in the fight for civil rights. So the question is – can we recognize his achievements while simultaneously recognizing that he was an imperfect human, and a disappointment in many ways?
I’d like to think we can, but too often, we see progressives go balls-to-the-wall on these things, demanding that historical figures be removed from our collective conscience if they were involved with slavery, and demanding fast food chains be blocked from opening if they believe in horrible terrible things like traditional marriage and families.
Will we see the #metoo movement respond to these new MLK allegations with the same determination that they took on Harvey Weinstein, whose only achievements were in film? Or will they ignore the information in order not to tarnish MLK’s legacy?
What do you think?