Here’s the dilemma created when we demand moral ‘perfection’ from our historical leaders and demonize them when we find out they have ‘feet of clay’.
That ‘feet of clay’ reference is Biblical, historical, and literary. If you’re a Leftist, or have been failed by public school or hipster pastors, you may have to look it up.
And that’s exactly the point.
There was a time when we could see the public achievements of someone who was a historical ‘great’, and assess those quite independently of their personal flaws and failings.
Washington, for example, helped establish America and we would not be the nation we are today were it not for him. That is objectively true despite some obvious stains on his record — most obviously, slavery.
You could go on down the same kind of list with all sorts of historically significant people.
Nelson Mandella, is he a national hero? Sure he is, but he is also remembered for a nasty practice called ‘necklacing’ that involved burning people alive.
Albert Einstein? Sure he was a genius that changed the direction of scientific inquiry, but the way treated his wife was beneath contempt.
Henry Ford? Changed the world of technology, transportation and manufacturing forever. But he agreed with Time Magazine’s positive view of Hitler.
Margaret Sanger? The Left LOVES her, even though she was a race-hating eugenicist who argued for mass sterilization programs and advocated rounding up poor people and forcing them to work on farms for life… for their own good, of course. (Isn’t that called ‘slavery’?)
Sanger’s eugenics project carried its own racial preoccupation. In a letter of Dec. 10, 1939, to Clarence Gamble (cited here), she explains the nature of her organization’s outreach to the African-American community: “The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” In her autobiography she proudly recounts her address to the women of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, N.J., in 1926.
Source: American Magazine
You could go on and on down the list. In fact, that was the whole point of conflict with the series of statues being toppled or removed in recent years, including the flashpoint that triggered those now-infamous events in Charlottesville.
That takes us to today.
MLK is a National hero. Why? because he fought — and literally paid with his life — in an effort to secure equal treatment of people regardless of their racial background.
He is remembered with a national holiday. Monuments have been raised in his honor. His ‘I have a dream speech’ is counted among some of the greatest speeches ever delivered in the English language. The culture changed — for the better — because of the sacrifices he made for a cause he believed in.
Which makes the personal failings he is accused of that much harder to reconcile with this public record of greatness.
Newly-released documents reveal the full extent of the FBI’s surveillance of the civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King in the mid-1960s. They expose in graphic detail the FBI’s intense focus on King’s extensive extramarital sexual relationships with dozens of women, and also his presence in a Washington hotel room when a friend, a Baptist minister, allegedly raped one of his “parishioners”, while King “looked on, laughed and offered advice”. The FBI’s tape recording of that criminal assault still exists today, resting under court seal in a National Archives vault.
The FBI documents also reveal how its Director, J. Edgar Hoover, authorised top Bureau officials to send Dr King a tape-recording of his sexual activities along with an anonymous message encouraging him to take his own life.
The complete transcripts and surviving recordings are not due to be released until 2027 but when they are made fully available a painful historical reckoning concerning King’s personal conduct seems inevitable.
Source: Standpoint Mag
The FBI learned of King’s extramarital affairs and with a pretext of his being ‘susceptible to blackmail’ by Communists, the FBI authorized more aggressive spying on his personal movements.
Among what the bugs in his room discovered was:
…Kearse “had brought to Washington several women ‘parishioners’ of his church”, a newly-released summary document from [FBI Assistant Director, William C.] Sullivan’s personal file on King relates, and [Baptist Minister] Kearse invited King and his friends to come and meet the women. “The group met in his room and discussed which women among the parishioners would be suitable for natural or unnatural sex acts. When one of the women protested that she did not approve of this, the Baptist minister immediately and forcibly raped her,” the typed summary states, parenthetically citing a specific FBI document (100-3-116-762) as its source. “King looked on, laughed and offered advice,” Sullivan or one of his deputies then added in handwriting.
Source: Standpoint Mag
A minister raped a woman, evidently in King’s presence. And there’s more besides that.
At the Willard Hotel, King and his friends’ activities resumed the following evening as approximately 12 individuals “participated in a sex orgy” which the prudish Sullivan felt included “acts of degeneracy and depravity . . . When one of the women shied away from engaging in an unnatural act, King and several of the men discussed how she was to be taught and initiated in this respect. King told her that to perform such an act would ‘help your soul’.” Sometime later, in language that would reflect just how narrow Sullivan’s mindset was, “King announced that he preferred to perform unnatural acts on women and that he had started the ‘International Association for the Advancement of Pussy Eaters’.” Anyone familiar with King’s often-bawdy sense of humour would not doubt that quotation.
Source: Standpoint Mag
The article is a long one with a lot of salacious and damning stuff, especially for a man of the cloth — even by the ‘boys-will-be-boys’ standards of his day.
Now that we are purging Michael Jackson song from the Radio for what he probably did to little boys, what is society to do with the chasm that divides the heroic stand for a righteous cause MLK definitely took with respect to Civil Rights — and the egregious #MeToo offenses that might land his personal character in the same moral category as Bill Cosby, JFK, and Harvey Weinstein?
Do we have to start abolishing holidays and tearing down landmarks?
Or do we start to recognize that people with even grievous flaws and stains against their record still hold a place in history for the things they have done.
Which is the better view of history — preserve BOTH MLK and Columbus Day as holidays, despite their personal failings? Or should we wipe away the memory of both?
To be historically honest, (if you believe what has been said about either Columbus or King is true), what we do for one, should be done for both.
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