Monday, January 17, 2011

The M.L.K. Assassination Trial No One Ever Heard Of

"According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8, 1999, in the wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers 'and other unknown co-conspirators,' Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of his own government," writes Catholic theologian James W. Douglass, who was present at said trial — The Martin Luther King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis. An excerpt:
    Almost 32 years after King's murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, a court extended the circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government.

    I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial's second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, "Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson's trial was the trial of the century. Clinton's trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who's here?"

    What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968.
Tolle, lege. This is a sinister twist on the "hiding in plain sight" idea; when our ancient republican institutions do work, the results are hidden in plain sight. Where was our much-lauded free press? "Nothing to see here, move along." The same "amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King" that Mr. Douglas experienced we should feel at "the government's carefully interwoven plot" to keep us ignorant.

Well, not ignorant of everything. My first experience of reverse culture shock, from which I never fully recovered, was being snowed in at JFK airport after a year as a student in Chile and finding my fellow citizens glued to "gavel-to-gavel coverage" of another "trial of the century," that of Lorena Bobbitt.

Mr. Douglas's JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, which comes to the same conclusion about another assassination, was the best book I read in 2010.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.