Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Half Century Ago Today

 A half century ago today Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee.  This remains one of the saddest events in our history.  This will not be a long post other than remembering this event that ended the life of this great man.  I have only two observations. 

One is that in yesterday's Washington Post there was a long article about how King's family believe he was not shot by James Earl Ray and that it was ultimately a plot by J. Edgar Hoover that did him in.  I had long dismissed these arguments, but the article contained a lot of information about the many loose ends and problems with the assassination.  Whereas I have gone from believing some of the conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination to accepting that it was almost certainly done by Lee Harvey Oswald alone, this article has sown serious doubts in my mind about the MLK assassination.  They are doubts as there is no clear resolution of this, and I fear we shall not be able to determine the truth of this with so many principals in the matter no longer among the living.

The other is to remember that King was concerned with issues of economic justice as well as of racial justice and a peaceful foreign policy.  He was supporting a strike by workers in Memphis when he was assassinated.  So this anniversary is a matter of more concern for this blog than the assassinations of some other famous people of the past. Let us remember this and honor his struggles in all their aspects on this sad anniversary.

Barkley Rosser


ProGrowthLiberal said...

50 years ago I was 12 and MLK was my hero. Yesterday I played his April 3, 1968 speech in Memphis - an amazing 43 minutes.

Peter Dorman said...

Barkley, like you, I'm predisposed to be anti-conspiracy. In general (1) I suspect that in large conspiracies someone will talk, so if there's no talk there's no conspiracy; and (2) most of the "conspiracy" we need in order to interpret the world is in the headlines, if we know how to read them. Conspiracy-mongering is usually a distraction.

That said, I admit I was rather blown away by the material on the JFK assassination assembled in The Devil's Chessboard by David Talbot. Overall the book's a great read and makes the case against Alan Dulles rather conclusively, in the process suggesting a rather different reading of fascism in the 20th century. But the stuff on Kennedy is incredible. In particular, the confession of Howard Hunt should be given some consideration -- it might even be the vindication of the "someone will talk" hypothesis. I don't buy Talbot's hagiography for Kennedy, but I'm willing to accept that he was viewed as a traitor, someone who needed to be gotten out of the way, by the Dulles clique. (But I still have a nagging feeling that, if what the book says is true, the knowledge of the plot must have been disseminated more widely.)

None of the three accused assassins (JFK, RFK, MLK) ever confessed; all of them thought they were being used by some larger entity. Of course, that's self-serving and should be looked at skeptically, but it should still be noted that none of these murders, which so changed the course of American history, has been fully resolved.

And yet I still think that most of the dirt can be found in the headlines. said...


We should discuss this in person, but I shall note that my views on the JFK assassination come from very personal and close connections. Marina's and my main competitor in the comp sys textbook biz is Paul Gregory, who handled Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina. The extension of that, given my Russian wife of the same name, I shall nor comment on here further, but when my Marina firsr came to the US in 1987 I took her across the country including to Dallas, and when I saw the infamous grassy knoll, well, that pretty much ended any belief that anybody besides Oswald did it. I suggest you read Gregory's New York Review of Books 2013 article on the half century of the assassination for further details.

I am reasonably convinced Oswald killed JFK alone. But the matter of MLK's death now to me looks far murkier and unresolved.