Not afraid to die

I don’t remember Martin Luther King Jr. because I never met him. If you never met him, you don’t remember him, either. What I remember are monochromatic images, a few speeches, and some stuff I read. That’s not a man.

That the Federal Bureau of Investigation tapped King’s telephones and secretly recorded conversations and planted agents in his organization and tried to drive him to despair with threats so he would commit suicide doesn’t surprise me. If the FBI were even a middle-class white man it would have been locked up long ago.

One of the things the FBI found out was that King liked women a lot, mostly Coretta but definitely not just her. Some people seem to think his marital infidelity invalidates his achievements. Those people are stupid.

King always wanted to be a preacher. He started college at 15, and when he got the call he answered. He didn’t dodge the hard parts, and he didn’t just organize marches and demonstrations; he led them, like generals used to do back when they had to be brave.

He wasn’t afraid to die, unlike many spurious Christians, and after the dream speech in 1963, the FBI said he was “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.” The FBI director referred to King as “degenerate” and “disgusting” in correspondence. A draft of a letter sent to King calls him an “evil, abnormal beast” and suggests that there’s only one thing he can do to avoid public exposure of his “fraudulent self.” Soon King came to realize the relationship of poverty to war and imperialism, and in 1967 in New York he said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government,” which wasn’t common knowledge like it is now.

The FBI says that it always gets its man, and in April 1968 after all black police and firefighters were transferred away from the 2nd Precinct fire station across the street from the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., and King was relocated to a room there that was more open to view, and four tactical police units in the area were reassigned away just that morning, King was shot dead on the balcony. The official version didn’t make much sense, and that’s not unusual—e.g., John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, The Waco Seige, Wounded Knee, and 9/11 for starters.

James Earl Ray did time for the killing, but even the King family didn’t think much of that. In 1999 a civil jury in Memphis decided that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated as part of a conspiracy “including agencies of his own government.” That quote is from what Jim Douglass wrote in the spring 2000 issue of Probe Magazine. I’ve never met him, either.