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Posted by: riverhousebill ()
Date: June 08, 2019 12:14AM

My dear for you-

By Richard Cohen January 7, 1990
THIS IS YOUR THIRD VISIT ON THIS subject, isn't it, Mr. Cohen?"

"Yes, doctor. About once a year, something happens. I see something, hear something or read something, and then I can't help myself. My obsession overcomes me, and I feel the need to write about it."

"J. Edgar Hoover you're talking


"Yes. The man. The former director of the FBI. He broke the law. He abused his office. He framed people. He tapped telephones and bugged motel rooms so he could learn about people's sex lives and then blackmail them. He tried to get Martin Luther King to kill himself. He tried to induce suicide. God, how can we keep his name on that building?"

"The FBI Building?"

"No. That's the point. It's not the FBI Building. It's the J. Edgar Hoover Building. It's a monument to him. It has his name on it. A zillion tourists in cutoffs go through the place every spring . . . "

"You've written about this before."

"Yes, twice. That's why I'm here. I can't help myself. I'm out of control. I want to write about it again. I come here, you tell me not to write about Hoover, and then, for some reason, I do. I write a column and nothing happens. No one cares. It makes no sense to me. Lookit. Ralph Abernathy wrote that his pal, Martin Luther King, was a womanizer, and the op-ed pages were filled with black leaders denouncing Abernathy for telling the truth. But those same black leaders have nothing to say about a building named for the very man who tried to blackmail King and who was a bigot. We know that now. He hated King because, among other reasons, King was a black man. Hoover was a bigot."

"Lots of people were bigots."

"But they don't have buildings named after them. H.L. Mencken confided to his diary -- his diary, for crying out loud -- that he was antisemitic and racist, and the National Press Club met immediately to consider removing his name from its library. Yet in this city, 75 percent black, no one says anything about a building named for the man who tried to get Martin Luther King to kill himself."

"You feel very strongly about . . . "

"You bet I do. I mean, where's Jesse Jackson on this? He's always talking about statehood for the District of Columbia. Statehood? Who needs statehood? So that Marion Barry can be governor instead of mayor? How about the J. Edgar Hoover Building? He says nothing. No one says anything."

"But the man is dead. The FBI has been cleaned up. You can't change the past. Look to the future, not the past."

"But that's the whole point. The future is the past. You affect the future by what you do with the past, how you interpret it. All over the world, when regimes change, so do names. Danzig becomes Gdansk. The Moldau becomes the Vltava. Images of Lenin come down all over Eastern Europe, and in the Soviet Union Stalingrad becomes Volgograd. These are all political statements. They say, 'There's a new way of doing things.' But an FBI agent walking into that building looks up and sees J. Edgar Hoover's name. What's the lesson to him -- that efficiency and bureaucratic success condone abuse of office?"

"We cannot erase the past."

"Who's asking to erase the past? Just the name. Hoover will still have existed. But look, we're not talking about a man who made one mistake. The King thing was bad enough. But when the Nixon White House called and asked for information on gay reporters, Hoover complied. During the Vietnam years, he authorized illegal burglaries and opened mail. He had the FBI infiltrate groups that were no threat to the country. He had his agents start trouble -- and then he blamed that trouble on the groups themselves. His idea of a black FBI agent was a chauffeur, and he was so busy looking for commies under every bed that he didn't notice heads were being cracked in Mississippi."

"People don't care."

"Yes. Yes, I know. That's why I shouldn't write about it again. But look, the director of the FBI had a special obligation to obey the law. If an FBI agent opens your mail, breaks into your house, sends a phony letter to an associate in your name or taps your phone, who are you going to call? The FBI? It's a question of values. What are our values? Do we value someone because he was the ultimate bureaucrat or because he made this a better nation? Hoover built the FBI, that's true. But someone else could have done that. Hoover also abused his office. Hoover also was a petty tyrant. Is that insignificant? He didn't just cheat on his expense account. He ruined the lives of innocent people."

"Tell me about your mother."

"My mother . . . What does my mother have to do with J. Edgar Hoover?"

"You're angry."


"You feel ignored."


"It probably has to do with childhood."

"It has to do with J. Edgar Hoover."

"You're more analytical than that."

"Yes. Yes, you're right. I see it now."

"Then you won't write about the J. Edgar Hoover Building?"

"No. It would be unhealthy."

"What's that?"

"A tape recorder. I'm going to publish this conversation."

"You're crazy."

"I'm crazy? Hoover tried to kill Martin Luther King and gets a building named for him -- and I'm crazy?"

"Time's up."

"See you next year."

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Posted by: riverhousebill ()
Date: June 09, 2019 04:29AM

Shhs dont pop Jennifers bubble

The letter was written anonymously—it is later confirmed by the Senate to be the work of Hoover


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