Geez. This is just fucking horrible. I know that many Americans were upset over the actions of civil rights leaders, especially Dr. King. I knew he suffered from death threats (and attempts). I knew that he scared many people. I didn’t know how far up the chain that fear ran. Apparently, it went all the way up to the FBI (and probably farther). From Vox:
“We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security,” FBI domestic intelligence chief William Sullivan wrote in a memo two days later. A massive surveillance operation on King was quickly approved, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover became increasingly fixated on proving that King had Communist ties, and discrediting him generally.
The surveillance failed to show that King was a Communist, but it did result in many tapes of extramarital sexual liaisons by King. So, the next year, Sullivan sent the following unsigned letter to King’s home. An unredacted version of it was only recently unearthed by Yale historian Beverly Gage, and published in the New York Times Wednesday:
Notice how Sullivan doesn’t address Dr. King’s advocacy for equality?
Notice how he attempts to smear his character?
All you people who scream ‘ad hominem attack’ whenever someone is insulted, take note. This is an ad hominem attack. Sullivan doesn’t address the substance of Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech. He doesn’t comment on the fight for equal rights. Instead, he seeks to tar Dr. King by bringing up shit that has nothing to do with his activism. Yeah, Dr. King was a human being who made mistakes, but none of those mistakes have fuck-all to do with his struggle to fight for civil rights. I’m actually astonished a letter like this came out from a high ranking government official. It’s a personal attack dripping with religious symbolism. It also seems to me to be the act of a white supremacist who is trying to terrorize a member of a minority group.
I wonder if Sullivan was ever punished. No, I doubt he ever was.