Criminology, History, Journalism, recent

Say It Ain’t So, Doc: How Should Martin Luther King Scholars Deal With the Rape Story?

These are difficult days for students of Martin Luther King, Jr. The man many of us have dedicated long months and years to researching, often out of a profound sense of respect, is facing an allegation of laughing and even offering advice while a fellow Baptist minister raped a woman in a Washington, D.C. hotel room in January 1964.

The source of this explosive claim is a trove of newly released FBI surveillance documents unearthed by the dean of MLK historians himself, David J. Garrow, author of The FBI and Martin Luther King: From “Solo” to Memphis and the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography on King, Bearing the Cross.

Since the article detailing Garrow’s new findings came out at the end of May in the British magazine Standpoint, Garrow has taken more of a pounding in the press than King. No surprises there, perhaps. Like those now criticizing Garrow, I desperately want to believe that the 55-year-old allegation is a trumped-up product of the FBI’s “viciously negative attitude” toward King, as Garrow described it in “Solo” to Memphis—a book that earned him the Bureau’s enmity prior to its publication in 1981.

The record, however, is also pretty clear that King relieved the crushing stress of daily death threats and the insatiable demands of the civil rights movement with women and liquor. To his credit, King was the first to admit he was far from perfect as America’s “moral leader”—but this far?

Much of the criticism that Garrow is now facing over the article is focused on the validity of FBI evidence concerning King’s sexual activities, namely the bombshell assertion made by FBI agents spying on King in 1964 that he “looked on, laughed and offered advice” during the reported sexual assault (which, as Garrow has since underscored, the agents listening in did nothing to stop). This allegedly took place in two Washington, D.C. hotel rooms rented to King and four other Baptist ministers, although the controversial claim is made in a handwritten note appended to a summary of the FBI’s microphone surveillance.

Garrow argues that “without question” the handwritten annotation would have been added with both the original surveillance recording and a full transcript of the recording at hand. He adds that Justice Department investigators who reviewed both the tapes and transcripts in 1977 confirmed the accuracy of the FBI’s claims. The tapes and transcripts, along with the rest of the fruits of the FBI’s intensive electronic surveillance of King, were subsequently sealed by a court order until Jan. 31, 2027.

I know Garrow and I know his respect for the man he calls “Doc” runs deep, and this is not an allegation he would carelessly report. Some of his detractors have called him “irresponsible” for running with it without access to the original tapes and transcripts, but Garrow has at least 40 years of experience working with primary sources produced by the FBI’s intensive surveillance of King. If anyone can tell what smells off and what doesn’t, it’s him.

I know Garrow because I have spent a good part of the last eight years studying FBI documents for my own work, and he makes himself available to anyone conducting research on King. In that time, he’s gladly answered my endless questions about these documents’ accuracy and validity, usually within minutes of my asking. During this time, Garrow has imparted not only a healthy skepticism of what the FBI records contain, but also his keen sense of what you can and cannot trust. And, contrary to much of what people are currently saying about the FBI records, there is actually much in them that you can trust.

My work has focused exclusively on the transcripts of FBI telephone wiretaps on three of King’s key advisors. These records are a mix of verbatim accounts and summaries of phone conversations, and anyone with knowledge of their context and a sense of the personalities involved can easily tell what’s fact from fiction.

The most common problem with the FBI transcripts is not misrepresentation or even misinformation, but rather errors of attribution. Some are more precise than others, which seems to depend on the agent who was doing the transcribing that day. On the whole, the transcripts are more driftnet than dragnet, capturing everything in their way, from the profound to, yes, the lurid and even the inane. A personal, poetic favorite of mine is the dutiful reporting of “footsteps.”

More often than not, the transcripts just let their subjects do the talking, which is, in some ways, more damaging than any smear J. Edgar Hoover and his deputies at the FBI could have dreamed up themselves. Agents listening in just had to press record, let King’s deputies vent and mock and criticize, and then transcribe the conversations for their superiors in the FBI’s New York field office and in Washington, D.C. One can ask just how truthful King’s advisors were being, given they knew the FBI was listening. My work on the wiretap transcripts suggests they didn’t let that stop them.

Take an example from the wiretap on King’s advisor, Bayard Rustin. On December 16, 1964, Rustin told a friend about his experience at a hotel in Oslo, Norway, where he was part of a group accompanying King for the awarding of his Nobel Peace Prize. The verbatim transcript reports Rustin telling his friend, whose name is redacted, how three members of King’s entourage “were running drunk naked women up and down the hallway.” One of the three men, Rustin says, was “a minister whom I wouldn’t name on the telephone.” “Oh no. Come on, Bayard,” the friend responds.

This snippet provides three important details: The first is that Rustin was aware enough not to name someone “on the phone”; the second is this awareness didn’t stop him from giving his friend the blow-by-blow of what happened at the hotel in Oslo; and three, the friend’s response is indicative of how precisely word-for-word the transcripts can be.

Given my experience with the transcripts, my heart fell into my shoes last fall when Garrow first told me what he’d found in this new trove of FBI documents. Considering what I’ve seen, I knew then, as my gut tells me now, that this more than likely will not end well for King if the tapes and transcripts on which these new FBI summaries are based are unsealed as scheduled in 2027.

As I’ve struggled to accept this possibility and what it means for my work, I’ve also struggled with whether this potential reckoning is fair.

The only reason historians have incredible resources like the wiretap transcripts is due to the FBI’s obsession with King, one rooted in J. Edgar Hoover’s deeply antagonistic attitude towards him. Because of this stunning abuse of power, we now face the possibility that King “looked on, laughed and offered advice” during an alleged rape.

One can’t help but wonder how many white icons would be facing a similar reappraisal if the FBI had mounted an equally intensive, invasive surveillance program against them. Does this mean we should turn a blind eye to the possibility the symbol of nonviolence himself egged on a rapist?

Even if we wanted to, it’s too late. The big question now for King scholars is one Doc himself posed in 1967, albeit for much different and nobler reasons—where do we go from here? If the FBI tapes and transcripts are made public in 2027, we will need responsible historians to use them responsibly. They can’t be ignored, nor can the allegation that is now rocking the foundations of King’s moral legacy.

More than ever, we need historians like David Garrow to do this difficult work with the same fierce commitment to independence and objectivity that angered the FBI all those years ago. The fact that it’s now Doc himself who is facing this scrutiny is tragic and not a little calamitous to those of us who have long held him in such high regard, Garrow included.

If that’s not balance, nothing is.

 

Stephen Smith is a Montreal-based journalist. He is currently editing the transcripts of FBI wiretaps on Stanley Levison, Bayard Rustin and Clarence B. Jones.

Feature photo by AP / PBA.

145 Comments

  1. dirk says

    What immediately strikes me here (again, without reading the article itself, only seeing the photograph): what a western hairstyle, smile and expression at that time, that, I think, has changed a lot in the meantime!! It’s all much more angry these days.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Yea, life was so much easier for us whites when the negroes just smiled and never complained. There’s probably a fried chicken a watermelon just out of frame in that photo, if I know black people as well as everybody else around her does.

          • dirk says

            That’s funny, Nakatomi, helped by Google I just found out in the journal Ebony, 1953 ( so, King’s time):

            Whites have out-eaten the negro right down on chops and fried chicken- and

            -White appropriation of black styles made a mockery of racially determined culinary tastes –

            Can you believe it??

        • FREEDOM! says

          N.P., It’s called poise.
          The servile spirit you are hinting at is not the same as the humble, calm spirit bestowed on a faithful man or women of God. Are you being racist? Do POC have to be angry for you to consider us “free”?
          People can stand for what is just and good while still having a calm, poised beauty and a smile of love and peace on one’s lips.
          Sour, violent sneers and hateful shrieking do nothing to bring peace and love.
          How many minutes of your waking day are consumed believing you are seeing, and then breathing back, hate? Breathe and give love and peace a chance in your day.
          dirk is right, smiling (sober) people are rare these days.
          That’s not a racist statement Paranoid Pat. Though I suppose you might be too young to recall people smiling at one another.
          LOTS of people used to smile all the time and it was wonderful.
          Whatever you did that makes you hate yourself because you’re paler than someone…I forgive you. Forgive yourself and move on. There are enough real problems in the world that there is no need to see shadowy, boo-giddy men everywhere you go.

          • bob pinto says

            Spoken eloquently and profoundly,”Freedom!”

  2. King’s well-documented plagiarism should have tipped you off years ago that he was far from being the hero you still seem to want him to be.

    • Maru says

      It is more than well-documented; it is established fact. That it is never discussed and that his doctorate still stands (would anyone want to be the person to pull the “Dr” from him?) is a sad reminder that identity politics are winning the day. Nobody should be above reproach.

      • It goes much deeper of course. At least in the North, King was a tool of social engineers, whether he knew it or not. They used him to help drive white ethnic communities out of the cities and into the suburbs (where they could be more easily “Americanized”), thus clearing the inner cities for millions of blacks – source of cheap labor for northern industry – migrating from the South.

        • If the evil industrialists did it, they sure pulled a huge coup getting all the liberals and leftists of the era to be leaders of the enterprise.

      • ernie1241 says

        All this information has been “discussed” for decades — including the salacious sexual aspects — such as when Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s 1989 memoir was published (And The Walls Came Tumbling Down).

    • prince says

      This Cancel movement of digging into the deep past of world heroes and highlighting their transgressions to destroy their legacy is deplorable.

      Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, so they mustn’t be celebrated,
      Churchill was a racist, so he should be removed from the WWII heroes list,
      Kate Smith sang an unacceptable song in 1931 so we now ban “God Bless America” in stadiums,
      Biden worked with racist senators in the 1970’s so we must crucify him today.
      Trump called for a death penalty for convicted rapists in 1987 proving he is a racist today.

      — Now it is MLK’s turn.

      Enough.

      Let us celebrate people for their great achievements and not for their perfections. No one is perfect, but a few can change the world.

      Appreciate.

      • Lightning Rose says

        Apparently the one doing most of the world-changing right now is Saul Alinsky.
        So prominent historical figures were after all men, not gods. Hel-loooo! Maybe we ought to teach them that way, as fallible humans, instead of elevating them to high pedestals only to topple them years later. Wouldn’t that be balanced, normal, well-adjusted and SENSIBLE? Of course–which why it won’t happen. Everything today must be about drama, emotion, and outrage. Meanwhile, the intersectional Ouroborus swallows his tail and their scaly little circle grows ever-tighter . . .

      • This is well said. The fact is that many great people have been personally problematic at best. That does not negate their achievements. The quest for ideological purity is a losing battle for all of us.

    • minorityofone says

      As do many leaders from Jefferson to Trump.

  3. Lert345 says

    If it was ok for Bill Clinton to do it, why not MLK? If they support certain policies, all other crimes are excusable.

    • E. Olson says

      MLK apparently only watched a rape, but Bill Clinton actually committed rape at least once, and sexual assault several times. MLK’s behavior is more JFKish, who could also give a good speech, won a Pulitzer for a book he didn’t write, and asked White House secretaries to “service” some of his friends when they weren’t “servicing” him, but as far as I’ve ever heard never raped or sexually assaulted anyone.

  4. Carl Jacobson says

    If you look into the private lives of a large number of celebrated people, even those considered to be ‘Humanity’s Finest’, you’ll usually find a lot of instances of abuse of power, sexual infidelity, racism or worse.
    The question is: Does the Fallibility of the Messenger destroy the Message?

    • TarsTarkas says

      Carl, that’s what the modern-day Donatists would like to happen. The past imperfect must be erased so that the perfect future can be created. And woe be to any who protest that that’s impossible.

    • A C Harper says

      The fallibility of the messenger should not destroy the message – unless those fallibilities directly contradict the message. Nobody values the words of a hypocrite.

      As far as MLK is concerned, some will find his activities distasteful but still laud his message. Others will wonder if he was a hypocrite who happened upon a message he could ‘sell’ to his own benefit.

      I always say people should be assessed against the standards of their time – but we are not very good at identifying what those standards were. I expect many today would not be as worried by casual infidelity as society was ‘back then’, but rather more worried by allegations of abetting rape.

  5. bumble bee says

    Well I was very sad to see the news about all this. This was not “just” about a husband cheating on his wife and family, but became quite disturbing.

    Yes, MLK is on a pedestal and I (and I am sure many others) wanted him to be that icon of selfless, righteous, patient, vigilance for truth and goodness. I think society needs people to emulate what they most hope to see in humanity. That through all the vileness, hate, violence, depravity, that we as a species still have the ability to produce people who choose not to allow our worst gain a permanent foothold on our identity as humans.

    The cynic in me, knows that there is no one eligible to be that icon we all want. A modern day secular prophet is what many societies and cultures are trying to find. Unfortunately, they are not able to be beckoned or manufactured at will.

    I guess I will have to just place MLK into the category of flawed human being who was able to make a positive change for all. I will however, under the current revelations, listen to his speeches, or read his words with a new lens cued to any potential hypocrisy.

  6. Marc Domash says

    From https://www.ibtimes.com/jfk-intern-mimi-alford-claims-president-forced-drugs-cajoled-her-sex-acts-resistance-was-out-406194

    A former intern of President John F. Kennedy described her alleged 18-month affair with the late President in an explosive new book, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath, which will be released Wednesday.

    The Daily Mail published disturbing reveals found in the memoir, among them an accusation that JFK forced the 19-year old to ingest a sex drug against her will, and that he coerced her into performing a sex act on an aide for his viewing pleasure.

    This really doesn't sound all that much different than what MLK is accused of doing (standing by and watching/encouraging sexual assault). While "rape culture" is a cudgel, there is something to it, and thinking MLK or JFK would be immune is anachronistic. I'd like to think we've moved beyond those days but then I think who is in the White House.

    The larger point is that it is going to be that it will be very difficult to separate out the good people (and they were primarily men) have done from the evil, but Shakespeare was wrong when in Julius Caesar he opines about the evil men do lives after them, the good is oft-interred with their bones. We remember Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence, Washington for his establishing the American Republic and keeping it a republic, Kennedy for avoiding a nuclear war, and MLK for being the most important leader in the movement to provide full legal rights to blacks. I would hope those who are quick to remove these names from history would adopt the more nuanced view that sometimes the good men do does live after them and the evil is interred with their bones.

  7. Scott says

    I greatly admire Dr. King and find his strength and bravery inspiring. The problem once again is that all people are flawed and as is the trend today, we want to tear down leaders of accomplishment for political purposes and not simply to better understand them and their times. Just as many places no longer allow celebration of George Washington and other founding fathers because of slavery, some will try to use this to diminish Dr. Kings accomplishments. Going back in time with no one left to refute a claim is a common tactic of culture warriors today.

    Equally troubling are Dr. Kings views on homosexuality. To quote his own hand from an Ebony magazine article from 1958, “The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired.”
    See: https://hornet.com/stories/martin-luther-king/
    Such a statement would be heresy today and would result in being banished from public life.

    I mention this not to diminish Dr. King but to better understand him just as we should hold all historical figures in the context of their times.

    • I agree that it is pointless to judge people based on the worst things they have done rather than on their lives as a whole. It is good to know those bad things, I think, to keep us from idolizing individuals too much, because we are all flawed and we need to know that. But when it comes to assessing a person’s impact on society, private sins are less important than public acts. Private sins are not trivial, and the more often they were repeated, the more damning they are. But it is a serious mistake to assume that, because a person did something bad, we cannot celebrate the good that he did.

      • Oloo Eddy Rachier says

        I agree, you’re a cognizant in the idea

    • E. Olson says

      Scott – in 1958 homosexuality was officially classified as a mental illness, so virtually everyone had a negative opinion about them. The fact that MLK would so openly express his “non-PC” opinion about them to a national magazine only reinforces that his viewpoint was mainstream at the time.

      I disagree with you partly on your statement that “today, we tear down leaders of accomplishment for political purposes…” because nobody wanted to publish Garrow’s story about MLK, just as there has been very little reporting of his many infidelities and his plagiarized doctoral dissertation. Nobody was planning to report Bill Clinton’s infidelities until the Drudge Report made a name for itself by breaking the Lewinski story, and nobody was planning to report John Edwards infidelity and love child while his wife was dying from cancer, until the National Enquirer reported it. Rumors of Bill Cosby’s drug induced sex capades were floating around for years, but nobody was interested in reporting them until he started acting like a Republican and criticizing black ghetto culture. It seems that the mainstream media will go out of their way to not report any scandals that would tear down icons of the Democrat party, but they obviously don’t show the same restraint for politicians or celebrities with an R next to their name.

    • Curle says

      King’s great achievement, if it can be characterized as such, was increasing the leverage America’s highest per capita welfare use population could employ for group rent seeking efforts. This idea that ‘everyone’ should have access to the ballot regardless of their contributions to the greater good has been and remains a deeply pernicious negative force in American culture and King helped expand it. There should be no vote for those without a net positive balance, taxes exceeding welfare, with the US Treasury.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Bless you, Curle. If only the majority of Quillette posters were as honest as you in your contempt for democracy and human rights. If we followed your policy, black America would still be living as financial and political slaves and the rest of us would be serfs. And what a miracle to see you misunderstand and misapply the concept of “rent seeking” at a time when the actual rent seeking activities of the rich have created so much inequality and unrest. Like so many of your Quillette companions in idiocy, you get so much exactly backwards.

        Thank you for your terrifying honesty and revealing stupidity.

        • Curle says

          Rent seeking is any use of political power to gain an economic windfall you couldn’t otherwise obtain which includes voting yourself economic transfers from others. You are confused in your thinking, remove the incentive to vote yourself income and you increase the incentive to be productive and decrease the incentive to pile on taxes. Lower taxes to reasonable levels and more people qualify to vote. It is an self-correcting process. More importantly, it is a facially neutral process that doesn’t design national social policy around making the indolent comfortable.

  8. Stephen Smith is vouching for David J. Garrow in this article.

    David J. Garrow, based on an unknown F.B.I. agent’s note attached to an audio tape made in a Washington D.C. motel room in 1964, proclaimed that Martin Luther King was most probably a man who laughed at a woman being raped. In the current witch-hunt times, Metoo/fascist feminist times, this “paper thin” evidence is as good as proclaiming King a rapist. It will be seven years before Garrow or anybody else hears the tape.

    The scholarly thing to do, the gentlemanly thing to do, the humane thing to do, would have been to wait the seven years and find out if the tapes actually bare out the accusations. Instead, Garrow became world famous for starting a witch-hunt against the greatest civil rights leader of the past 60 years, a man who was assassinated for his work at the age of 39.

    At the time of the alleged taping, King was in Washington D.C. to discuss the new war on poverty with the new president, Lyndon Johnson. He was also discussing new civil rights legislation. J. Edgar Hoover was desperate to destroy King’s reputation and stop the war on poverty and the new civil rights legislation. Every F.B.I. agent knew that the way to advancement in the F.B.I. was to be in the good graces of J. Edgar Hoover. Writing a note like this, true or not, would be a good career move.

    I would guess the odds to be 99 to 1 that the tape does not show what the note by the unknown F.B.I. agent says. That will show Garrow to be a first class scoundrel and a lousy historian. Even in the 1% chance that Garrow turns out to be right, that will still mean that Garrow was a first class scoundrel and a lousy historian who did not wait for the evidence to prove a heinous conjecture.

    Stephen Smith wants to defend his friend David J. Garrow. He obviously has the best of intentions. To help Garrow regain credibility, he relates a piece of evidence that is not related to Dr. King, but to an associate of Dr. King, Bayard Rustin. He is recorded saying that other unknown associates of Dr. King “were running drunk naked women up and down a hallway” in a hotel in Oslo.

    We don’t know if this happened or if Rustin heard a rumor about this happening. We don’t even know if it was the custom for drunk naked women to run up and down hallways in Oslo in 1964. Maybe drunk naked women found it a good way to keep warm, or maybe it was just one woman running to the bathroom in her bra and underwear at 3 A.M. accompanied by her husband. Maybe he heard it from an undercover F.B.I. agent trying to spread rumors about Dr. King’s associates. Maybe it was the same man who wrote the anonymous note attached to the unheard recording.

    If Garrow showed us how modern sex witch-hunts get started – bad misjudgements, Smith shows us how they get spread – with the best of intentions.

    • David of Kirkland says

      There is a lack of evidence (“believe the man”?) so far, and of course the evidence would never make it into court as recording the private lives of non-criminals as faux “investigation” is the one true crime that’s plain to see.

    • Stephanie says

      PJ, your statements “based on an unknown F.B.I. agent’s note attached to an audio tape” and “writing a note like this, true or not, would be a good career move” are incongruent. If recognition where what this FBI agent was after, why would the note be unnamed? What use would such a note be to the FBI without the supporting audio?

      Given your inability to put together a logical argument, your claim that there is only a 1 % chance the tape exists seems especially dubious. Certainly your claims of poor scholarship are more likely to be projection.

      • You need to read things more carefully and report them honestly.
        That no name was attached to the note would not mean that J Edgar Hoover would not know who wrote the note. If I send you a book and attach a note saying check page 603, you would know that it was me who sent you the note even if the note does not have my name on it.
        I did not say there was only a 1% chance of the tape existing. The tape recording certainly does exist. The question is whether it shows Dr. King laughing at a woman being raped. That I give much less then a 1% chance of being true. Given the extraordinary character exhibited by Dr. King throughout his lifetime, I would give that a less than 1 in a million chance of being true.
        The poor scholarship is exhibited by Dr. Garrow by his making an inflamatory and incredibly racist judgment on something he can’t possibly know is true, when all he has to do is wait 7 years to find out if it is true. Good scholars base their reputations are what is well known and proved, not on what is unknown and conjectured. that Dr. King had sexual affairs outside of marriage only proves he was human and heterosexual. To imagine that this is evidence that he would laugh at a woman being raped takes a special kind of puritanical mind.

        • Stephanie says

          PJ, I would apologize if you had explained how I misunderstood your statement, but instead you simply support your incongruous statements with strange assumptions. There was certainly not only one person working on the MLK case, and you cannot expect Hoover to recognise the handwriting of his many employees. What your proposing is mere conjecture, much more tenuous than the scholarship presented here.

          You’re pulling the 1% and 1 in a million figures out of your nether regions, which is actually the opposite of the “well-known and proved” standard you accuse real scholars of neglecting.

          But your strange claims all make sense now that you reveal the real reason you won’t believe this story: you think it would be racist (in other words, wrongthink). You are ideologically incapable of thinking such a thing, let alone a rational appraisal of the evidence.

          Of course it isn’t racist to present evidence a black man did a bad thing: to believe that would itself be an act of racism because it accepts the validity of collective guilt. But then again, if you think cheating on your spouse is normal behaviour with no moral implications, I will likely not be able to successfully explain why judging a whole race by the actions of one member is morally repugnant.

  9. Morgan Foster says

    “How Should Martin Luther King Scholars Deal With the Rape Story?”

    Blame racism, of course.

  10. Certainly, there is good reason for the commonplace observation that prophets are never honored by those who know them best.

  11. Carefully, impartially, based on the existing historical evidence and with sensitivity to all sides.

  12. Jesse says

    Protest movements do not produce change. They are a mob-type reaction to changing circumstances, once they reach a threshold such that the current social order becomes unstable. They are a way for mobs to vent frustration and anxiety, but I suspect that, at most, they merely give a touch of color to the new social order. The major structure caused by society finding the most convenient stable form given the new circumstances. That is why you can have a Civil Rights Movement succeed despite being “led” by an amoral con artist.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      None of that makes any sense. You start by saying the protest movements don’t produce change, and conclude by arguing that MLK’s protest movement produced…change.

      It was only five sentences. You couldn’t write five intelligible sentences?

      • Jesse says

        Really should have put “succeed” in quotes, you’re right.

  13. Canada Dan says

    Well it’s always easy to level scandalous sex-abuse allegations against people who are dead and buried and not here to defend themselves or set the record straight, isn’t it?

    • Good point, we should stop doing history so we avoid making potentially false accusations against the dead.

  14. Geary Johansen says

    All our heroes rest,
    Uneasy in our history,
    Great men err greatly.

  15. ernie1241 says

    All this information has been “discussed” for decades — including the salacious sexual aspects — such as when Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s 1989 memoir was published (And The Walls Came Tumbling Down).

  16. Itzik Basman says

    ….Say It Ain’t So, Doc: How Should Martin Luther King Scholars Deal With the Rape Story?…

    Is this a history process question having to do with the validity and reliability of the evidence or is it a substantive question having to with the certainty the “rape story” is true and thus how it ought affect judgments about King? If it’s the former, the question hasn’t been answered; Smith, clearly no Stephen A., simply elaborates on his dealings with Garrow, on his own study of the transcripts and pretty well judges that the evidence is there to support the truth of the story. It all lacks clear linear focus, the making of a specific argument. If it’s the latter, Smith slightly adapts the claim of M.C. Hammer, “I can’t touch this.” How does Smith write all these words, presumably aware of the tease, and yet offer nothing as to how King ought to be judged in light of the “rape story”?

  17. Lydia says

    Almost every city in America has a road named after him along with many parks and buildings. Although I’ve seen a ton of narrative twisting with the diversity training crowd about Dr. King. They are desperate to make him fit into the “everyone must see color first” narrative. His ‘content of character not color of skin’ does not fit in well with the new cultural Marxism of identity politics. They may see this as a chance to get rid of him for once and for all.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Lydia

      That’s a good point. Could that be the endgame of all this?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ Asenath Waite

        Indeed. MLK was an Oreo!! He had internalized whiteness, and he even had externalized whiteness, what with the business suits and the perfect grooming and the eloquent, perfect English. He was the opposite of woke, he wanted a fair chance, not guaranteed success. I suspect that confronted with the horror of a black criminal being shot by a white cop, MLK would shrug his shoulders and point out that had the black guy not been robbing a convenience store, he’d not have been shot.

    • Jerjapan says

      Cultural Marxism isn’t a thing that exists though.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @Jerjapan

        “Cultural Marxism isn’t a thing that exists though.”

        Cultural Marxists always say that.

      • DNY says

        @Jerjapan Then what other short-hand name do you want for the amalgam of ideas form Gramsci and Marcuse mixed with a dash of Nietzsche’s trans-valuation of values that, their source often forgotten, dominate the 21st century Left?

        In 1985 in a letter to Christina Hoff Summers I’d suggested emphasizing the last aspect and calling the phenomenon (yes, it was already a going concern then) “the Nietzschian Left”, but that never caught on, so emphasizing the other aspect, cultural Marxism it is.

        • Jerjapan says

          Breathnumber and DNY, fair point – there are cultural marxists. They are, however, largely limited to a few academics from decades ago, and we all know that the term is currently used as an umbrella pejorative by the alt-right. A straw man, if you will.

          I’m not denying the existence of identity politics, and have my own problems with it.

          I do think it is important to choose your language carefully, and if a racist subset of conservatives – the alt-right – are fond of certain terms, such as cultural marxism, you should perhaps avoid using those terms so as not to be associated with avowed racists.

  18. X. Citoyen says

    I’ve never shared or even understood the fascination with King, so I have no dog in this fight. Anyway, the evidence seems a little thin to me. The note doesn’t have to be fabricated to be misleading. I find it hard to believe anyone would radically change his opinion over this.

    • Oloo Eddy Rachier says

      MLK died for the Negro, to die is so serious love, not worth putting down. I vehemently disagree with such pummelous critics. Long live MLK!

  19. Jerjapan says

    I’m delighted that the closeted racists of this site have a chance to crawl out of the woodwork under the auspices of historical truth-telling. I’d like to hold these ‘historians’ accountable to actual historical work, so let me model how it’s done.

    We’ve got one semi-legit historian making a salacious claim in an ideological publication. We’ve got some shaky evidence – a few handwritten lines – confirmed nowhere else. And that’s it.

    So go ahead, treat this as if it’s legit. Pretend to be historically minded, as an excuse for advancing hateful ideologies.

    The analogy between climate-change denial should be too obvious to need replicating, but it seems to bear repeating – just because someone states something contrary to something factual, we have no responsibility to now give credit to this ‘provocative, alternative’ perspective and assume the truth to be somewhere in the middle. This would be the fallacy of the false middle.

    I thought this was the website for the informed, forward-thinking conservative?

    • @ Jerjapan

      Eh? Given the nature of the claims, I think comments are pretty soft and fair on King.

      “one semi-legit historian”

      Really? Man has written several books on the subject. Has won a worthy Pulitzer Prize for his Biography on King. And isn’t member the Republican Party. Oh, and he has qualifications to boot. So how do you question his legitimacy? It is your job to show that. Perhaps you’ve not learned this is not the right way to make your argument.

      • Jerjapan says

        Rayadh, right, because believing victims is a hallmark of conservative discourse, “given the nature of the claims”.

        But that’s obviously silly. I question Garrow’s legitimacy because quality voices in the media and academia are nearly universal in questioning his legitimacy. Your ‘evidence’ that he isn’t a Republican is of course not evidence. Yup, he won a Pulitzer over 30 years ago. Kendrick Lamar won one last year, but I don’t see anyone quoting him.

        I have no job to show you anything – the burden of proof lies with the conspiracy theorist, and this is some Qanon level conspiracy BS. Sorry that you can’t see that, but you probably can’t see climate change or income inequality either.

        Lastly, you dodged the key point in my original post (the handwritten note), to focus on a guy who has ‘written several books’. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that usually you are not moved by that evidence in a different context.

    • Stephanie says

      Jerj, this is the site for leftists kicked out of the leftist camp for not being leftist enough. Sadly there is not yet a conservative equivalent, hence the unusual proportion of conservatives in the comments section.

      You can disagree with the history, but you provide no persuasive reason why you do except that you think accepting this history would be racist – or, more accurately, wrongthink.

      Even if MLK himself were a serial rapist, that would have precisely no racist implications. No amount of personal guilt would implicate the broader African American community. He was responsible for his actions, and his contemporaries cannot be held accountable for supporting a civil rights icon whose private malfeasance they were not aware of.

      In light of this assumption you make that the misdeeds of one black man would make all black people guilty, you are the racist and your accusations are mere projection. Please reflect on the ethics of collective guilt.

      • ilsemeyer says

        @Stephanie “[T]his is the site for leftists kicked out of the leftist camp for not being leftist enough.”

        Really?? Have you ever considered the possibility that there may be a great number of people here who like learning, political affiliations be damned.

        • Stephanie says

          Ilse, and yet all the contributors are leftists kicked out of the leftist camp…

        • Ray Andrews says

          @ilsemeyer

          She replies to a very wrong generalization with a somewhat better generalization. This is a common rhetorical device which you will learn as you continue to study the English language. For now, understand that your touche actually touched nothing.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Stephanie

        There are times when your clarity is superlative, my lady.

      • Jerjapan says

        Stephanie, your conclusion is laughable – I did not call Garrow racist, nor do I state that ‘accepting this history would be racist’ – which is your central axiom. I called out the racist responses in this thread – which are racist, whether or not the premise of the article is correct. If you hang out on Quillette enough to describe this as the “site for leftists kicked out of the leftist camp” then you have seen what I’m talking about. I’m not going to ‘prove’ the obvious – just reread this thread if you haven’t noticed this before.

        I did in fact provide some evidence – the vast majority of legitimate commentators on this topic do not agree with Garrow. Those that are – the publications and commentators who take Garrow seriously on this topic – are clearly ideologically motivated.

        But thank you for a classic example of the straw man fallacy.

        Also, nobody can ‘kick you out’ of a leftist camp. Leftist thought is an ideology – believe what you want. I spend as much time disagreeing with the left as I do the right. The correct place to tether your horse is logic – no ideology there.

    • MMS says

      Web site for the Classicaly Liberal not for conservatives per se…

    • Curle says

      Per your cultural Marxism comment, don’t forget that racism isn’t something that actually exists. Certainly not racism that has any significant effect on life outcomes. All that propaganda you’ve spent a lifetime absorbing? Fantasy tales about imaginary forces.

      • Jerjapan says

        And here with Curle’s comment we have an example of the racism that Stephanie apparently can’t see in this comment thread. Racism that has significant effects on life outcomes doesn’t exist? This is of course nonsense. Nonsense doesn’t require evidence to refute.

  20. OMG. MLK has been me-too’d. Bye, bye Civil Rights Act– now that we know it’s a product of Christian patriarchy and toxic masculinity, repeal is just around the corner.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @JD

      Yup, his statues have to come down, probably to be stored wherever all those taken-down statues of RE Lee are stored.

      Hey I have a good idea for some playwright: As they sit there in the dark, gathering dust next to each other, the statues of MLK and REL end up discussing their situation:

      (MLK): “Well damn! One thing to be unpersoned, another to be stored beside you, you slave owner.”
      (REL): “You talkin’ to me boah?”
      (MLK): “Yes, I’m talkin’ to you, whitey, and don’t call me ‘boah'”
      (REL): “Guess I was a slave owner, come to that. I’ve had some time to think about it since they took me off my pedestal. Fate does some funny things to us, don’t it? Bet yo’ black ass never thought you’d end up here, did you boah?”
      (MLK): “Don’t call me ‘boah’, and no, I never did think it.”
      (REL): “That’s one thing we have in common. After the war, I ended up being revered by almost every American. Union vets saluted me as sharply as Confederates. I seemed to stand for a kind of honor, even tho fate put me on the wrong side. You were revered by the whole country too. What happened to us?”

  21. Saw file says

    “they” have been trying to disavow and distance themselves from MLK for over a decade now.
    This is convenient.
    #MLKtoo
    Smh….

  22. Stephanie says

    I feel badly for Americans that the people they’ve elevated as saints have been torn down. Perhaps some thought that unlike the Founding Fathers, MLK was recent enough that he couldn’t have possibly been guilty of such a sin.

    It’s only when someone like MLK or Washington is tarnished that you see how much like a religion American mythology is. The reactions are visceral, like the reaction to blasphemy. Since it’s this American mythology, as opposed to shared religion, ethnicity, or even culture, that unites Americans, I wonder if they’ll come to regret letting the sins of their icons irreparably taint their achievements.

    This zeitgeist reminds me of the stereotypical teenage rebellion phase. The realisation that Mom, Dad, the Church and the government aren’t perfect leads to wholesale rejection in favour of our own idealistic, militant sense of what is right, unconsciously based on the culmination of preceding values but rejecting the path that got us there. It takes some time to develop a more nuanced understanding of the world in the context of history, and then to synthesise that with our childhood mythologies to come to an adult worldview that accepts the utility of these mythologies despite their faults.

    There have been no perfect people. Not Mom, not Dad, and not Washington or MLK. We can acknowledge their faults without tarnishing their legacies. For the American experiment to survive, this new generation of Americans must develop a mature appreciation of their history and re-embrace the uniting mythology of America.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Stephanie

      You are eloquent today my lady.

      “It’s only when someone like MLK or Washington is tarnished that you see how much like a religion American mythology is.”

      That’s the thing. The Brits were smart enough to park the sanctity of the state on the head of the monarch where it can be kept somewhat safe, whereas the Yanks park it on the head of the President and other heros where it is very subject to being trarnished. But the need for sanctity is there, thus we have Washington and the ‘cannot tell a lie’ myth. Brits, along with Ozies and Canucks, know that our politicians are slimy opportunists — it’s just not an issue. We let our heroes be flawed. Or at least we used to.

      • Stephanie says

        Ray, thank you, I appreciate it!

        Yes, Jordan Peterson said something to that effect, that monarchs are useful as symbolic figureheads onto which we can project some notion of national virtue, alleviating the pressure on politicians. But if the next generation of Royals start getting into the political mud (as Meghan Markle seems to want to), the purpose of that institution might become obsolete.

  23. I am not buying it, he is not here to defend himself, the one thing I know is that the comment about knowing they were being recorded adds another element to the scenario. There is an effort to discredit all Black Icons. I am not going to believe a report and not consider the reason he was bugged in the first place and the initial motive for bugging him in the first place. I cannot control public opinion but biased agents will not influence how I feel about a man who faced jail, death threats, smear campaigns and relentless opposition, the fact that this comes out so late contributes to my scepticism, if I felt he was guilty it would be different but I do not believe he laughed at a rape. There would be more character references’s in his past. Infidelity is not a credible indicator of a rape promoter.

      • DNY says

        @Harland Exactly. It’s today’s “anti-racists” who will be most enthusiastic about tarring MLK’s name with this, not the supposed bigots on the right. King’s leadership of the Civil Rights movement was too classically liberal for the “woke” to be comfortable with him as a hero.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Charles Harris

      Excellent. You carry the case Charles. This juror returns ‘not guilty’ on the strength of your argument.

  24. Angus Black says

    I guess I take the view that MLK is dead and thus beyond help, hurt and punishment.

    He leaves behind only one thing of importance – his “I have a dream” speech.

    It doesn’t matter that the prophet had feet of clay, and I have no time at all for what has been done to turn a clarion call for decency into a victimhood industry.

    That speech resonated with me when I first heard it and it resonates with me today. That’s all that matters.

  25. Farris says

    The dead make convenient targets as they are unable to defend themselves. People often snicker at the Cadaver Synod conducted in 897 A.D. as evidence of unsophisticated thinking. Is the current trend of holding historical figures to account any different? One can only imagine how History may be recorded a few hundred years from now…”In the first part of the twenty first century it was fashionable to besmirch deceased figures from history for alleged crimes and dated opinions.”

  26. Sadie Slays says

    The rape accusation was made by an author selling a book and based on tapes that the public can’t view for another ten years. I’m not buying it. To me, it seems like another Leftist attempt at destroying an American symbol.

    • Charlie says

      It may be that King had affairs and had a few drinks. The evidence comprises transcripts of recordings: we do not know the lay out of the buildings, positions of bugs, background noise and people in attendance. In summer, windows are open and noises rise; the sound of trains, traffic and people in the street could make it difficult to hear. There would only have been microphones so there would be no visual evidence. What would happen if bugs were poor quality, badly positioned and there was significant background noise; would the transcripts be what people though they had heard?

      Many in the USA drink very little. Consequently, some could have a couple of double spirits and think the person was drunk. There have been plenty of large strong men from the services and heavy industry who could drink half a bottle and be stone cold sober.

      King may have paid for prostitutes, even white ones; that does not make him a rapist. Women have publicly accused Bill Clinton of rape and been ignored by Democratic women who have said believe all women. The Democrats have used the accusations of rape when convenient ; it is their venality and hypocrisy which is ignored.

      ML King was a Republican. Is this an attempt to smear an black Republican ? King said people should be judges on their character not their skin colour. If one judges on character, someone’s ability, it is the end of identity politics.

  27. Mark Groubert says

    Read Ralph Abernathy autobiography – FIRST EDITION, it describes King sexual activity in detail. Second edition – it is deleted.

  28. Mark Groubert says

    Smith has not done his homework. He states that the only reason historians have these transcripts “is due to the FBI’s obsession with King, one rooted in J. Edgar Hoover’s deeply antagonistic attitude towards him.” This “stunning abuse of power” as Smith refers to it are based on legal wiretaps. If he bothered to look at the bottom of those documents he would see the signature of beloved liberal icon Robert F Kennedy, the attorney general of the United States.

  29. Stephen Phillips says

    It may help some of the disappointed/disillusioned Christians to read the story of Samson.
    Heros are very rarely virtuous in fact they are probably successful heros; because not despite their flaws.

    • dirk says

      Of course Steph, just only look at Weinstein. Ypu scarcely read these days about the enormous successes he had. There is no zero sum!

    • the gardner says

      I could live with the 40 sexual partners, but standing by, even egging on a rape? Bridge too far for me.

      • Scribbler G says

        Really? You can “live with” a supposed moral icon, a Reverend (don’t forget, we must call him Reverend Doctor) and supposed moral leader being a serial playboy? Incapable of being monogamous at all? Do you know such men in this world? I do, and they are untrustworthy as they lie to the people most important to them. They worship and obsess on their own appetites and are immature in that they haven’t developed the muscle of delayed gratification.

        Even your use of language is effed up. If he just had many sexual partners, for a man of the cloth that’s still awful but he was married. Like I don’t understand the inability to speak honestly about MLK. He was a philandering communist (certainly by the end he was a hard core communist) – which makes him morally suspect. Period. Too bad people don’t like those facts.

  30. Anj says

    Meh, what’s the surprise here?
    That ‘good guys’ can degrade women?
    Dime a dozen…

  31. The same thing happened with Muhammad Ali. The problem is Americans like everything to be binary, black and white, good vs. evil. The idea that their putative heroes might ‘contain multitudes’ doesn’t accord with simplistic myth-making.

  32. Due Process Dave says

    Oh, what an easy question to answer.

    No evidence, no crime.

    Next time, skip the shower, go to a hospital, file a police report and submit to a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) toolkit within 72 hours. It’s not personal, it’s protocol.

    Is that really so hard? This could be condensed into a pamphlet. This could empower women with the knowledge on how to fight back. But who the hell wants that? Encouraging personal responsibility in women? That’s offensive! No, as a society we’re just going to keep telling women they can take as long as many months, years or even decades to make their claim — however long it takes for the accused to become famous, powerful or dead, or for the accuser to release a book. If it doesn’t result in a conviction, it’s because patriarchy, it’s because men don’t believe women, it’s because misogyny, it’s because of any excuse you can think of except for acknowledging the alleged victims chose to wait 30, 40, even 50 years before saying anything.

    It is way too late to even entertain the possibility of MLK committing any sexual assaults. He’s dead, and I’m sure any samples of his sperm have deteriorated into dust by now. It would have been damn easy to throw him in jail even on completely fake, made-up charges back during the civil rights movement. It shows just how careful he was, despite his reputation for liquor and women, that he managed to not stick it in an FBI honeytrap all that time. If he was raping women for real, it would have been even easier for the FBI to catch him, especially before or during the movement, and they couldn’t even pin a fake one on him until all this time later?

    Fake news. Move along.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @ Due Process Dave

      I wish we had upvoting at Quillette. That was a beautifully made argument.

    • codadmin says

      No, its not too late because unlike the vast majority of historical rape actuations, this one includes as accuser who spoke to the authorities decades ago.

      It wasn’t her fault her testimony was buried.

      This one is different because like the historical accusation itself, there is also historical evidence.

      • Due Process Dave says

        @codadmin

        Oh, sure! A woman accusing the biggest thorn in America’s side of participating in a sexual assault, just somehow got her testimony buried when it would have suited the government perfectly. Whoopsie-daisy! Are you nuts? This is the same three letter agency that was clever enough to put Al Capone away over a mere tax evasion!

        What evidence are you even talking about? Oh, you mean those hand-written notes that accompany a tape recording that nobody can independently verify? Do you even have one single clue as to how rape is investigated? I’m talking about real, professional investigation — forensic investigation — not that amateur-level bullshit that passes for journalistic investigation these days.

        Sure, I believe these allegations were made back then. Since nothing became of it, that leads me to believe that her story was so full of holes that the FBI knew they couldn’t do anything useful with her testimony. They were certainly biased towards MLK, and they wanted desperately to nab him on anything, but they’re still cops. They know which leads to move on and which leads to throw out. Wheat and chaff.

        All she had to do during that testimony is open her legs and let the nurse take a swab. She could have kept the mouth in her face shut and let the one between her thighs do all the talking. With proper storage, that evidence could probably still be preserved to be objectively examined today.

        Let me remind you about how we’re reading about these allegations:

        Woman claims to be raped by MLK.
        FBI makes a tape recording of her verbal testimony.
        Agent writes up a series of notes based on what’s on the tape.
        Book author reads the notes, is not allowed to listen to the tape itself, writes book based on notes based on tape.
        Journalist reads book based on notes based on tape, writes opinion piece on Quillette based on book based on notes based on tape.

        You obviously have never played “broken telephone”. They need to do that in schools more often. I did that when I was in elementary school, but I think it should be taught in Universities these days. Call it “Erroneous Communications Relay Studies” and roll it into the humanities courses to make it mandatory.

        • codadmin says

          The fact you are talking in such specifics about the allegations proves there is substance.

          The US authorities did nothing s the civil rights movement transformed the country. You think they were anti MLK?

          Stop being so naive. The revolution that happened in the 60’s happened because all the institutions were already on board.

          But, that’s not to say the accusations are true, It’s just that they have more credibility than an accusations that involved a nipple glance 40 years ago.

    • Mark says

      “It is way too late to even entertain the possibility of MLK committing any sexual assaults. He’s dead, and I’m sure any samples of his sperm have deteriorated into dust by now.”

      No one is accusing MLK of committing sexual assaults, only cheering them on. Sometimes it’s good to make sure you now what you are talking about before saying anything about it.

    • ArbutusJoe says

      There is no statute of limitations on crimes made by sacred cows.

  33. the gardner says

    You can’t unring a bell. Now that it is out, no one can look at a statue of MLK without this hideous story crossing their minds.

    And to all the hysterical #MeToo feminists —- are you now going to demand streets and schools be renamed, his statues be taken down, his holiday cancelled? Or are those punishments reserved for white guys?

  34. Simon says

    You get it wrong. What matters is not that MLK was a rapist, it’s the archive and the apparatus through which this putative fact is carried to our knowledge.
    As a matter fact, he’s known as a rapist because of the white gaze and its devices of ubiquitous and panacoustical surveillance.
    MLK is not to blame but the systemic racism that allows us to know his whereabouts with such precision is.

  35. codadmin says

    The white woman who was allegedly raped by King and his friend told the FBI: “getting scared as they were pretty drunk and using filthy language,”

    I wonder what that that ‘filthy language’ was…Racist language?

  36. Scribbler G says

    Uhh, so he was a serial playboy, abusive towards women and part of groups of other ministers who did the same. On top of being a communist by the end of his journey. Gosh, only a racist could have ever been critical of such a man… This author really is a beaut – he seems to believe it’s axiomatic that everyone worships MLK. I do not. He was but one of many in the civil rights movement, which began long before him. I do not begrudge him his leadership and movement, but the hagiography has been garbage since the start. This is not the first damning revelation about MLK’s personal behavior, particularly when it came to women.

    But of course the author can’t play it straight, he has to say, “The record, however, is also pretty clear that King relieved the crushing stress of daily death threats and the insatiable demands of the civil rights movement with women and liquor.” Oh really? Do people not have pressures and not give in to drink and their libido? Does the author really believe this is acceptable moral reasoning or even an actual insight? Men who behave like this do so regardless of their circumstances. The recklessness and wildness is part of the game. MLK would have been a player no matter what, don’t try and tell me this is some kind of compensation for his oppression.

    Even worse? The throwaway line towards the end that the author is sure we’d find just as awful things in many white polticians pasts – as if we hadn’t already done so? JFK’s nonstop philandering? LBJ’s? We talk of these things all the time, white people don’t have guys like this author fretting over what exposing the truth will due to their reputations?

    Rant off.

    • codadmin says

      Is MLK a leftist hero or a universal hero?

      If the myth serves the fascist left, then he must be rejected, but if the myth serves civilisation, then he must be protected.

      • Curle says

        “fascist left”

        The word is Bolshevik.

        Fascists are nationalists and reactionaries. Hitler was an genocidal reactionary for whom murder was an acceptable expedient.

        Lenin and the Bolsheviks were genocidal internationalist and multiculturalist revolutionaries for whom murder was an acceptable expedient.

        The fact that Hollywood and the media prefer to dramatize the horrors of the former and bury the horrors of the latter probably has much to do with current era political messaging but isn’t a good reason to adopt lame National Review style verbal gymnastics like ‘fascist left’. The Bolsheviks were sufficiently evil to suffice as an object of comparison for their present day followers.

        • codadmin says

          Cool, and no one has ever heard of the bolsheviks.

          The ‘bolsheviks’ have invented an arsenal of linguistic weaponry and the only response is to pick up those weapons and fire back.

          The fascist left is apt because at the core of their ideology is race hate. The only difference between them and the Nazis is who they hate and who they blame.

          • Curle says

            “and no one has ever heard of the bolsheviks.”

            And that’s the problem.

            Nazi’s are the club used by the powers that be to dramatize fear of the political Right and to treat unreasoning terror as an essence of Rightist politics. This has been accomplished by the systemic distortion if not outright burial of inter-war Central European history.

            No Bolsheviks no Nazis, it’s as simple as that. Not necessarily because Nazis adopted Bolshevik tactics and methods, they did. But, because the Nazis were brought to power on a reactive wave of revulsion at the Red Terror, the Holodomar and the attempted coups and revolutions led by Bolsheviks in Germany, Hungary, Spain, Central Europe not to mention Russia. A new book, the Vanquished, discusses this and is essential to understanding Nazis and WW2. Such an understanding is essential to reducing the moral claims of the modern day Bolsheviks (SJWs).

            “For Gerwarth, these two developments – the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the defeat of the Central Powers in 1918 – are key to understanding the whirlwind of violence that descended upon parts of Europe in the years after the war. The second section of the book focuses on one of the principal fundaments of this violence: revolutionary and counter-revolutionary convulsions, many of them occurring in the territories of the former Russian Empire and still others inspired by (or fearful of) the example of Lenin’s revolution. In the Baltic, German Freikorps units continued to battle the Red Army and indigenous nationalists well into 1919, while the Russian Civil War pitted revolutionaries, counter-revolutionaries and nationalists against each other in a singularly nightmarish conflagration which claimed more Russian lives than the First World War itself. But the spectre cast by Russian Bolshevism stretched far into central and southern Europe; uprisings of domestic revolutionaries produced near civil war-like conditions in parts of Germany, Austria and Hungary, while wave after wave of strikes in Italy, many of them inspired by events in Russia, provoked a particularly ferocious reaction in the form of Benito Mussolini’s fascist movement. Right-wing regimes also emerged in Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria largely as a response to revolutionary upheaval.”

            https://reviews.history.ac.uk/review/2045

          • codadmin says

            I’m not disagreeing with any of that, but, it’s not about the facts.

            The leftists control the means of cultural production, which is why the word ‘fascist’ elicits a certain response in the vast majority of people.

            You think I sound like a crank calling them the ‘fascist left’?…try calling them Bolsheviks in a crowded room.

            You have to use their language because they control the language. It’s a tactic that works. Look at what happened when the leftists called the right ‘fake news’. It was immediately thrown back in their face and now ‘fake news’ is more associated with them.

            Don’t get fancy, just call them fascists and racists because that’s what they are.

        • Sasha says

          Oh if that history was as simple as you deem. By the way Fascism is a metaphor for literally a bundle of sticks rather than an individual stick. Hence Mussolini’s desire for total control by government . Hitler was originally a rabid socialist iand he just copied Mussolini’s salute as it seemed to “click” with the crowd.

          Satlin, Lenin and the Bolsheviks and the Arrow Cross party were manifestations of despotic inherent beliefs. OH we imperfect humans!

        • Scribbler G says

          Actually, many fascists were Progressives and Socialists before turning to fascism in frustration over the failing “Communist International” (ComIntern) to bring about global communism and revolution. The Bolsheviks were by far the most vicious and awful of any regime of the 20th century based on numbers, rhetoric and absolute viciousness. Just sayin’.

        • Mark says

          Hitler was not a reactionary, but a nationalist revolutionary.

      • Scribbler G says

        What on earth are you talking about? The entire problem with the Progressive and Socialist maniacs around is is that they all think they know what “serves civlization”. I don’t need my facts pre-chewed, thanks.

        • codadmin says

          You have to decide what civilisation is and make that decision. Civilisation is an idea, after all.

  37. Mark says

    The article describes an accusation, attests to the honesty of the accuser, and notes the possible existence of damning tapes that might corroborate the accusation but gives the most irresponsibly suggestive and ambiguous description of what was on the tapes. Of course, sexual assault becomes rape, after all, what is the difference? Why was the woman there? What were relations prior to the assault? Did she say no? Did she scream? When and in in what condition did she leave? Was there a police report? What were the relations of the two men after the woman left? Any one of these questions answered might have provided serious corroboration to what is now only the suggestive story of an accusation.

  38. Nakatomi Plaza says

    Now, I’m not the most informed person in the world, but I had never heard about these accusations before reading this article. I spend a good amount of time reading online, but this never appeared. It seems really interesting that this story appears on Quillette. I might not wonder at this, but the constant stream of race-based and anti-progressive articles on here makes this extremely suspicious. And the evidence is a hand-written note appended to the actual report? And we’re trusting the FBI with this, are we? The FBI is the fucking devil 99% of the time around here, but now they’re credible? The federal government cannot be trusted to provide an honest weather report to the Quillette readership, but we’re let this one slide? Bullshit. And the most insane thing is that this is an allegation with next to zero substantive evidence. I guess Quillette is on the me-too bandwagon now? The hypocrisy and sleaziness of this is incredible.

    Quillette is a hair away from becoming Stormfront for the college-educated.

    • @NP, you need to expand your sources. I’ve read about this for a while now. How old are you if you don’t mind my asking? Are you young? This has come out periodically for many years; and recently, the last six months, it has been reported in several media outlets. So your hypothesis about Quillette is misinformed.

      As far as your attack on Quillette. It borders on the silly. Quillette publishes an article by an admirer of King worrying how to handle this information about King –and you conclude this is part of a White Nationalist movement? How exactly? How is this hypocritical and sleazy? I think you simply reject the facts – though they are rather well established and as I say have been repeated for decades now – because you aren’t as well read as you believe yourself to be; then conclude that therefore the entire article is fiction; and from that conclude it is racist. Many illogical leaps.

      I urge you to examine your assumptions here. And if you hate Quillette, nothing is forcing you to read it. Stop reading it and read more media that confirms your biases, if that makes you feel good. I myself enjoy Quillette. And I’m not even White so don’t call me a White Nationalist lol….

    • Diana Ayala says

      This educated Honduran woman loves Quillette. Who knew I was a closet white supremacist?

    • Sydney says

      @Nakatomi Plaza

      You can’t be serious. A 30-second Google search will tell you that this particular information is currently EVERYWHERE, and that larger discussion of MLK’s philandering has been floating around for decades. This isn’t about Quillette; it’s about the FBI and information it collected.

      Did you read the piece? The author says that Garrow should have waited until the FBI tapes were unsealed to publish on it, which is the same thing that “progressive” New York Times says, and which is the same thing that any reasonable person thinks.

      Speaking about the “progressive” NYT (since you raised the issue of credibility), are you aware that it hires racists (check out Sarah Jeong), prints racist pieces (an op-ed wondering if black and white children should play together), and lately published an overtly anti-Semitic cartoon? Sounds more like Stormfront than Quillette does.

      But that’s the funny thing about the intersectional left: it’s FULL of avowed racists, race hucksters, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and minimizers…people who fit perfectly into the Stormfront worldview. So in fact it’s the NYT that’s in fact “a hair away from becoming Stormfront.”

      • Sydney says

        Whoops, my error in my second paragraph above: I’ll correct myself! I confused a few pieces I read on Garrow’s report and this Quillette author does not in fact think that Garrow should have waited until the FBI papers were unsealed (slap on wrist for me @Nakatomi Plaza!).

        I agree with some other pieces online that take the position that Garrow shouldn’t have reported while information was still sealed. But this Quillette writer seems to trust absolutely in Garrow’s impartiality and credibility. If he’s correct, it’s a terrible stain on MLK’s legacy.

        (I stick by the rest of my comment, however.)

      • @Sydney, good points. That is the thing about what I guess should be called the Far Left, although this movement has many silent or loud allies amongst the Left and even sometimes Liberals: in their racism, they are often indistinguishable from the Far Right. The only difference is that the Far Left is mainstream: in major Pulitzer Prize winning newspapers, in US representatives, in television guests.

        The chief way I myself notice their racism is their vicious racism against Jews. They literally say the exact same things a KKK person would say about Jews–if you strip the source, you cannot tell them apart. The Times’ cartoon was literally exactly like a Nazi or classical anti-semitic cartoon.

        The only thing is they have convinced themselves they are righteous, so their cause is just, so they can do no wrong. We know from history what happens when movements start believing themselves morally pure, when they condone violence against civilians as a means to their end of seizing power, when they group people into racial categories and judge and condemn individuals based on their group affiliation (which they declare). It’s very bloody.

        Just because a movement says of itself that is against x or y, does not make it so. To young people reading: Look at actions, not words. Look at what they permit: that is what they promote. By the way, I am most certainly not a reflective advocate of the Right either. I actually think the Left/Right dichotomy is rapidly becoming meaningless, if it isn’t already.

    • Scribbler G says

      You are the fascist in this dialog, Nakatomi. But you’ll never get that. You are quite delusional and sad. The facts of MLK’s serial philandering and horrific treatment of the women who were close to him is nothing new. You probably just used Google to do your research. Type “DuckDuckGo” into your browser and use their search engine. Put in “MLK philandering” and you’ll get pages of information. You could also put in “MLK communist” and find the same. Just not on Google, the SJW search engine.

      Your blanket dismissals of this information and casting Quillette as a “Stormfront” shows your vicious idiocy, NP. Not your genius or moral standing. Like it’s a disgusting and anti-intellectual thing to say. It reveals your awfulness. Get that.

  39. I have two major thoughts.

    If we retroactively eliminate major historical figures based on their personal sins – or even one personal sin – we will wind up with almost literally no one. I realize laughing at and watching a rape (his alleged sin) is more sinful than, say, having an affair; I also realize King was a minister whose persona was that of a righteous, religious man, hardly compatible with someone who implicitly (at least) condones rape. All that said, one must assess the impact the person has on history and – worst case scenario – understand that like nearly all people, King was a complex man who sinned. There is nothing that was said here that changes all the historical good he did. The only people this might shake are those who believe in saints. I don’t.
    If we do eliminate major historical figures (which I disagree with), it must be done proactively – before it serves a political/ideological purpose – and equitably, as opposed to using the sin as a cudgel for political and ideological enemies.

    This is where I am more than a little bit suspicious at the timing of this retroactive character attack. There is no new information here. We’ve known this about King for years. So one may ask: why now? Why is this ‘suddenly’ becoming a thing, picking up steam to the point that pro-King scholars are wringing their hands in anxiety whereas before – with the same exact knowledge – they didn’t. (I’m not questioning the author’s motives here; he seems genuinely upset.)

    Of course, it’s only a hypothesis, but it seems obvious that King needs to be taken down as representative of the Black experience and soul. This is because what King preached is antithetical to the new woke intersectional ideology. They can’t take him down directly as he’s too revered. So they pretend to all of a sudden notice his sins and try to hitch that onto the #meToo movement.

    This is exactly why I object to the entire premise. It’s not simply wrong on its face to retroactively erase or eliminate a hugely influential historical figure because of his/her private sins, and it’s not simply wrong to do this in a non-equitable way (probably the vast majority of all figures have ugly skeletons in their closets, so why King and not countless others?); it’s wrong because the actual reason is very often cynical and manipulative, with nothing at all to do with the cause itself, but instead with using that veneer to destroy an enemy in a sneak attack with their hands still clean and pure.

    The author should ignore this. I only ask that this ignoring of personal ‘sins’ is applied to all figures, and not simply to figures who align with our ideology, or religion, or politics.

    • dirk says

      @ d: your hypothesis on this issue sounds quite logical, King was not an identity freak at all. And just look only the way the women at the that time uncurled their hair and dressed themselves in a neutral way, they all expressed universal citizenship, single mankind, the black panter style came later ( though overlapped in the ’60s) and these two styles never felt at ease together. Nakatomi was wrong with his watermelon and fried chicken, that would have been appropriate only with the panters.

    • ArbutusJoe says

      “If we retroactively eliminate major historical figures based on their personal sins – or even one personal sin – we will wind up with almost literally no one.”

      The universal ideological acid is truth: our heroes, our myths, even our science falls before the constant uncovering of new information and the understanding that follows. I’ll trade all the fallen angels in history for the march of human knowledge. I guess in that respect I’m “progressive”?

  40. Morgan Foster says

    @ d

    “Of course, it’s only a hypothesis, but it seems obvious that King needs to be taken down as representative of the Black experience and soul. This is because what King preached is antithetical to the new woke intersectional ideology. They can’t take him down directly as he’s too revered. So they pretend to all of a sudden notice his sins and try to hitch that onto the #meToo movement.”

    Leaving one to wonder what we’re going to do with that four-acre memorial, with the embarrassingly large, retro-Marxist statue of King in central Washington, D.C.

    Will it eventually be moved to a government parking lot, somewhere, along with old statues of Robert E. Lee?

  41. FavoriteHistoricalCharacter says

    No one is going to believe it or run with it until the tapes are available, and even then it will be ignored by most.
    Some historical heroes are sacrosanct, others not so much.
    Time to resume taking those Washington murals down.

  42. Peter Helenius says

    Interesting how few people leave their name attached to their comments.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Peter Helenius

      We live in dangerous times.

  43. Frosty says

    It’s sealed until 2027, Garrow should have waited to hear it himself before making it public. Anything less than that is suspect to me.

  44. Slim Pikens says

    With political agendas facts are irrevlant. The achievement of the goal is paramount and truth falls to the wayside. This can be clearly seen today with mainstream liberal agenda news for anyone with average intellengence with an open mind. The agendas pushed in mainstream media are so prevalent in these modern times is near impossible for one to find any real media that doesn’t put agenda over facts or reality. This is the case no doubt with MLK.

  45. ga gamba says

    Martin Luther King Jr must fall, or at least be drastically de-emphasised, because the “content of their character” aspect of his “I have a dream” speech causes the intersectionalists too much grief. There’s only so much contortion a brain can take before it spits, sputters, and snaps.

    The woke like Frantz Fanon.

    • Mark says

      MLK fell 50 years ago. By the time of his death he was obsolete, the Civil Rights Movement had become the Black Power movement that advocated raping white women and that considered MLK an Uncle Tom.

  46. dirk says

    Who is this Frantz Fannon now again? OK, have checked it on Google, a pan-africanist (though Caribian), so, certainly not a friend of King!

  47. Mike says

    The Americans were settled by the East Indies Company in league with the King of England. Life on Earth at that time was very different than it is now, even very different than the times after American Revolution (the English Civil War). There was no real Freedom, no real Liberty, no real Rights, no real ability to Own Real Property by the common people of the world. The entire world was rigged to the benefit those in power, those who were always in power. After the 13 colonies were established a new ideas was making its rounds and people of influence started seeing the greatness of it. Those ideas were Freedom and Liberty for all. To escape from the Human Bondage of the Power Elite that has been on the Earth for as long as can be remembered. It was a pure miracle that these small Colonies were able to win their Freedom from the King, a pure miracle that there were even those of local power at that time to rebel against the Established Power Elite . Listen to the speeches of the time. They called it The Great Experiment. They had no idea what they were doing because Freedom and Liberty has never existed before for the masses of humans. To this day it is still The Greatest Experiment.
    Since its inception the USA it has been under attack. The then Worldly Powers, just like the now Worldly Powers, vowed to stop The Great Experiment. They want their Power back, they want their World back. Look at your history. Its all there. Find the truth. These people do work in the shadows, there is a hidden conspiracy to topple The Great Experiment. Do not doubt it.
    MLK Jr. was part of this conspiracy. He was a bad actor. He was a dupe like many other and most of us. But we must understand they are using Race as a weapon (a weapon of many they have) in their battle to destroy The Great Experiment. It may be hard to believe but all Races and Nations must come together and join hands against these people. We can not let the Race Batters divide us. Sure we all have race differences and sure we brother each other but we need to recognize a common enemy and recognize this enemy once they get their way will put us all back into servitude.

  48. Richard Aubrey says

    A guy who is supposed to know said, “They let you.”. It would be interesting, or revealing, how many “let” MLK, how many showed up suggesting, how many were induced by some kind of preachertalk, and how many were forced.
    A good man stops a rape. That’s a whole different thing from playing around with those who let you or who can be talked into it.

    All of which said, the defenestration of the Founding Fathers isn’t iconoclasm for fun. It’s to discredit the Founding, the Constitution, and the culture. This…to discredit the races getting along.

  49. Jay says

    by a member of their household – Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
    The CoIor of Crime: Race, Crlme, and Justlce in Amerlca * BIacks are seven times more IikeIy than peopIe of other races to commit murder, and eight times more IikeIy to commit robbery. * When bIacks commit crimes of vioIence, they are nearIy three times more IikeIy than non-bIacks to use a gun, and more than twice as IikeIy to use a knife. * Hispanics commit vioIent crimes at roughIy three times the white rate, and Asians commit vioIent crimes at about one quarter the white rate. * The singIe best indicator of vioIent crime IeveIs in an area is the percentage of the popuIation that is bIack. lnterraciaI Crime * Of the nearly 770,000 vioIent interraciaI crimes committed every year invoIving bIacks and whites, bIacks commit 85 percent and whites commit l5 percent. * BIacks commit more vioIent crime against whites than against bIacks. Forty-five percent of their victims are white, 43 percent are bIack, and l0 percent are Hispanic. When whites commit vioIent crime, onIy three percent of their victims are bIack. * BIacks are an estimated 39 times more IikeIy to commit a vioIent crime against a white than vice versa, and l36 times more IikeIy to commit robbery. * BIacks are 2.25 times more IikeIy to commit officiaIIy-designated hate crimes against whites.

    • Mike says

      Yes, these statistics are telling. The Race Batters have done a great job at weaponizing the Black Race by exciting their animosity’s and promoting hatred. The Black Race has been convinced that they are victims and as much are not accountable for their actions, that White people are evil and deserve their wrath. Look at South Africa.
      There are Blacks that know this and struggle everyday to help turn the tide. The Race Batters will continue their Race Bating with the black race and many other races. This is why the enemy’s of The Great Experiment are promoting Multiculturalism in the Developed Nations. They are flooding all the first world nations to weaken them by overwhelming them with social problems and crime is one of their best social problems to plague us with. They will win if we cannot come together and stop them.
      All of today worldly troubles can be traced back to enemy’s of The Great Experiment. Help rid the world of them and you will see most all of our troubles disappear.

      • Mike says

        Jay, also I wanted to say, without wanting to takeaway from your point which is a very good point and i hope well taken, is another weaponized Race issue we need to watch is Tribalism. The Race Batters are promoting Tribalism among the indigenous people of Nations. In the USA they are successfully weaponizing the American Indian. A very big and quite problem.

  50. James Williams, Ph.D. says

    It also appears that MLK was a plagiarist, yet he has been given a pass on this unsavory act as well. One would think that, as in many other cases of plagiarism, Boston University would revoke his Ph.D.

  51. tom says

    When the King files are unsealed (which almost certainly won’t happen initially in ’27) the real disgrace is the extent to which King sold out his followers to the Communists. It has long been known, without any FBI files, that he was a liar, a cheat, a womanizer, a plagiarizer, and reveled in inciting riots to increase his personal power leverage. What is mostly only guessed at, is what he did for the Communists to earn the substantial fees they paid him – and to earn Kennedy’s sincere concern. That information, I think, will be found shocking.

  52. TheSnark says

    So MLK’s personal behavior was flawed? That’s good. I don’t trust people, especially leaders, with exemplary personal behavior. They have other flaws; their are generally self-righteous, intolerant, absolutist asses who try to force their “perfection” onto others.

    The only important historical figure in the past 100 years with exemplary personal behavior was a vegetarian tea-totaller who never cheated on his girl-friend/future wife. His name was Adolf Hitler.

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