March 13, 2016

Short Memories and the Ignorance of History

A couple years ago I found that an old friend had become dyed in the wool Republican. I guess it took me back a little, considering we’ve been pretty close since meeting in 1969. We were both street freaks in those early days… if you know what that means you get a gold star. The “man” called us hippies, and the man hated the way we lived. So yeah… it kinda shook me to learn that he’d gone GOPer. There were gaps in there, and I just don’t know what happened to turn him this way. Then just a few days ago I found that he was not only Republican, but also in Trump’s corner. I don’t think a poke in the eye with a hot iron would have hurt me as bad as learning that. All the old memories keep dancing in my head. And all the history of the man makes it all the more difficult. I didn’t react too well.

JFK was murdered when I was a freshman in high school. The world seemed so full of hate right about then. Reminds me so much of this election season. Living in Texas I knew well the effects of hate and racism, but I couldn’t figure out why JFK had to die. Even though I’d gotten started politicking at the ripe old age of 10, I didn’t know much about Kennedy other than what I could read in our little paper and the speechifying I heard on radio and TV. I liked him… impressionable I guess… didn’t like Tricky Dick, so I picked up some flyers and bumper stickers and went around offering them to folks. LBJ needed help too, so I did it again.

What I didn’t know was that Kennedy or Johnson had a hand in what would eventually happen at Kent State. Every president from Woodrow Wilson to Obama has had a part in it, but the deed that changed me happened on Nixon’s watch. But we can’t pin it on him any more than we could LBJ or JFK before him. No, this got started in 1919 with a group called the GID, some very controversial operations identified as the Palmer Raids, and a man called Marcus Garvey. This snip from the Biography website identifies the roots of the surveillance culture with which we still suffer today.

“… In 1919, [J. Edgar] Hoover targeted Pan-African leader Marcus Garvey, naming him a "notorious negro agitator," and began searching for any evidence that would allow Garvey to be charged with a crime. In December of 1919, afraid of Garvey's growing influence, Hoover hired the first black agent in the Bureau's history: James Wormley Jones. Jones was sent to gather intelligence on Garvey, and the resulting information led Hoover and his group to sabotage Garvey's Black Star Line, a series of ships meant to transport goods between the black communities of North America, the Caribbean and Africa. Hoover [ … ] spent much of his career gathering intelligence on radical groups and individuals and "subversives," Martin Luther King Jr. being one of his favorite targets. Hoover's methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps and planted evidence, and his legacy is tainted because of it. He died in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 1972…”

Two years and a day before his death, the culture this man begat killed four kids for nothing more than exercising that which is guaranteed to every citizen and is enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution… and now I find that someone I believed to understand the reasons why we cannot go back to that history… is actively working to perpetuate it. I wonder if he can even conceive of the pain this causes.