Ace Letters to the Editor 02.06.2003
The Last word
The recently addressed "Devil's Advocate" rebuttal of the article addressing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by a Matthew Haltom [1/23/03] printed in the Letters column was, though essentially mythological and a bit sad, still ironically thought-provoking in ways much of the emotional rhetoric of King's admirers isn't. This should not only be addressed; counterpoint arguments should be delivered in that context. Most people are aware of the instances of infidelity of which Dr. King was accused, via the illegal and ultimately unconstitutional wiretaps of his activities by the FBI under the leadership of the quite possibly paranoid schizophrenic and known cross dresser J. Edgar Hoover. (Most of the general public is also aware of the sexual predilections, indiscretions and marriage issues of Thomas Jefferson, Horace Harding, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan [Nancy was his second wife], Bob Dole, Lee Atwater, Newt Gingrich and, of course, William Jefferson Clinton-not to mention Lot, Kings David and Solomon, and Judge Samson of the Old Testament, et. al.) Perhaps a more fitting reminder during this Black History month of both a) MLK's actual philosophy, and b) the inner strength it took to embrace the generative paradox of its construction, will nonetheless come from looking at what can be considered its the three pillars: the teachings of his Lord, Jesus Christ as written in the New Testament, the "self-evident" truths of the Constitution, and the Satyagraha principles of non-violent protest of the Mahatma, Mohandas Gandhi.
Considering the moral hypocrisy and historical inaccuracies one would have to cling to like a B&D slave in order to invalidate MLK's contribution to American life with "putang pie" gossip, ignoring his true political beliefs and his spiritual motivations call into question not what Haltom thinks of this preeminent symbol of the Civil Rights movement, but what he thinks of the Civil Rights movement itself. That, however, is a question anyone getting off on trying to tear down its icons with the impotent iconoclasm of far right revisionist political mythology may not wish to answer in print. After all, taking into consideration a) his public speeches against a war in Southeast Asia far more controversial than the oncoming Iraqi conflict, b) that he knew everyone from the KKK to the CIA had a price on his head, but he continued marching through the segregated South anyway, and c) being gunned down as he thought he would be before giving a speech proclaiming the rights of Union workers of all races, you gotta remember that we all have our faults but not everyone has the wisdom or courage of a Martin Luther King.
Prejudiced, i.e., an opinion formed without full knowledge, best describes Darryl Weaver's rebuttal to my Martin Luther King letter.
Weaver says I'm dishonest for equating King's spreading of social disorder with his accomplishments on racial equality. Had he used that erudition Weaver says I lack, he'd have seen the observation referred to MLK's "harness[ing] the violence of northern criminal gangs." Such claims are solidly backed by research (see E. Michael Jones, "Rev. King Comes to Chicago: The End of the Dream, Culture Wars, Nov. 2001), which Weaver tries dismissing by attacking me and by denials devoid of substance.
Mention of the well-documented destruction desegregation wreaked on Catholic ethnic political power-on large families nurturing traditional morals-was a "laughable" and "bizarre muddle." Mention of immorality eroding Negro families, but not applying that critique to other races or noting other factors waylaying black families, meant I'm a "transmitter of propaganda." Whatever.
Because they girded their loins with sexual "liberation," civil rights leaders rejected the Johnson administration's plan to curtail the moral disintegration of Negro families (see Jones, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control, p.418-432). Like King fomenting social disorder in Chicago, this invalidates some of his legacy because he wasn't always the man of truth the hero-starved think him to be.
Ace has printed a representative sampling of letters received on the Martin Luther King cover story, Jan 16, 2003. The letters page forum on that cover is now concluded.