A few more miscellaneous thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. on this day of remembrance.
One: King was a troublemaker. In many ways, he became more of a troublemaker as he progressed through his life. In key ways, in the final years and especially the final year of his life, he was being abandoned by key supporters and sidelined because he was focusing not solely on race (on which the country was then beginning to build at least a notional elite consensus) but on poverty and democratic socialism and the Vietnam War, issues that divided many of his supporters. It is always important to remember that King died in Memphis because he was there to support a strike not an integration march, though racial discrimination and labor rights were and are impossible to separate.
The fact that the FBI sent Martin Luther King a letter demanding he kill himself or risk the release of recordings of his extra-marital assignations has been known for decades. But the complete and uncensored version of the letter only came to light three years ago. You can see it here. Yale historian Beverly Gage happened on the original version of the letter during research at the National Archives.
There is a lot contained in this letter. To put it mildly.
We still have no clear explanation, certainly no good explanation, other than that it was a false alarm. But just after 8 AM this morning in Hawaii residents received an emergency alert on television and mobile devices warning of an incoming missile attack on the state. It was explicitly alerted as “not a drill.” Again, it was a false alarm.
I am of Trump’s generation, and I grew up with the sentiments that he expressed about Haiti and African countries. When I was a kid, one of the hit songs in 1948 was the Andrew Sisters’ “Civilization.” You can click here to listen to it. Here’s a stanza:
So bongo, bongo, bongo, I don't wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no no Bingo, bangle, bungle, I'm so happy in the jungle, I refuse to go Don't want no jailhouse, shotgun, fish-hooks, golf clubs, I got my spears So, no matter how they coax him, I'll stay right here.
So to many people of, say, sixty years or over, what Trump said resonated. It was all very familiar. So what? you might ask.
The Supreme Court just announced it’ll hear two Texas redistricting cases. There’s been a lot of news about redistricting and the courts lately, and it can get confusing. So it’s worth sorting through what it all means.
You’ve likely seen this story which The Wall Street Journal just broke which claims that in October 2016 Trump attorney Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to an adult film star named Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) to remain quiet about an alleged sexual encounter between her and Donald Trump in 2006.
This is what Martin Luther King, Jr’s nephew said about President Trump after appearing with him at a White House even honoring Dr. King.
“I don’t think he’s a racist in the traditional sense.”
"I don't think he's a racist in the traditional sense." MLK's nephew after appearance at the White House. Good Lord. pic.twitter.com/J1e7DhqWEJ
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 12, 2018
Let me take a moment to speak up for the word “shithole” which is seeing its reputation damaged by association with Donald Trump. We went to this dive bar. It was a total shithole. That town? Total shithole, never want to go there again. It’s a dump. Closer to President Trump’s ugly usage, Trump wouldn’t be the only American to call a poor or underdeveloped country a shithole. That’s not okay. But my point here is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the word – nothing more than any other not for polite conversation swear word. And even this ugly usage doesn’t capture the essence of Trump’s meaning. The context and import of President Trump’s remarks are not simply that the countries are “shitholes.” It’s much more than that. It’s that we don’t want people from those countries because the awfulness of the countries attaches to the people themselves. Speaking of whole classes of people, specifically people of color, as basically garbage – is not only disgusting but entirely of a piece with the campaign President Trump ran in 2016 and the policies he is implementing as President today.
Here’s one thing that occurs to me. When I first heard about the “shithole” meeting at the White House I thought it was a bipartisan meeting. Technically it was. But my understanding now is that there was only one Democrat there: Dick Durbin (D-IL). He went there with Lindsey Graham. But there were a handful of other Republican senators already there. Would we have ever heard about this if a Democrat hadn’t been in the room?
Good morning and happy Friday. Both the House and Senate will meet only briefly today for pro-forma sessions. Here’s what’s on TPM editors’ radar today.
Please take a moment to watch this video. It’s remarkable and important. The words themselves are not terribly surprising. They’re really undeniable. But reporters on network or cable network TV simply do not talk this way. They don’t cut this close to the reality of situation.
It’s CNN’s Jim Acosta. The video is after the jump. Watch. It’s important and remarkable.