Chasing Zorro

Insight into the assassination of Martin Luther King

Gregg Reese | 1/12/2006, 2:02 p.m.
April 4, 1967, was a milestone in the public life...

particular concern to Hoover was the burgeoning

Civil Rights Movement, which he saw as being ripe

for infiltration by the Communist Party. Specifically

distasteful to the F.B.I. director was the movement’s

most famous proponent, Dr. King, whose promiscuous

sexual liaisons offended Hoover’s puritanical


Since his death, Hoover has been the subject of

numerous insinuations and innuendoes, including

speculation that he was a cross-dressing homosexual

with hidden African-American ancestry, one source

being literary icon and fellow Washington, D.C.

native Gore Vidal, which may explain his relentless

pursuit of individuals with similar backgrounds and


“Hoover was becoming famous, and it was always

said of him - in my family and around the city - that he

was mulatto. People said he came from a family that

had ‘passed.’ It was the word they used for people of

black origin who, after generations of inbreeding, have

enough white blood to pass themselves off as white.

That’s what was always said about Hoover.” -Anthony

Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of

J. Edgar Hoover, 1993.

The idea that homophobes (those with an irrational

fear or hatred of gays) are themselves repressed

homosexuals goes back to Sigmund Freud’s initial

musings on the nature of human behavior.

Ethnic self-hatred is common enough to have

spawned a number of studies, possibly the bestknown

case being that of closeted U.S. Attorney Roy

Cohn (and a political ally of Hoover) who zealously

railroaded fellow Jews Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to

the electric chair for passing atomic weapons secrets

to Russia, and strongly opposed gay-rights legislation

before he himself died of AIDS.

As for Hoover, much has been made of the fact

that for such a well-known public figure, little documentation

was available on his early life, with no birth

certificate on record until he was well into his 40s,

along with his unusually close association with fellow

F.B.I. man and lifelong bachelor Clyde Tolson.

Hoover’s inclination toward the persecution of

African-American political groups went back to

Marcus Garvey and the Black Nationalist movement

in the early 1920s.

By the late ‘60s he had developed an intelligence

apparatus unsurpassed in its ability to amass information

on any conceivable person or subject, and implemented

a program called COINTELPRO specifically

to disrupt dissident political organizations. COINTELPRO

contributed to at least one murder, that of

white civil rights volunteer Viola Liuzzo, and after

her death circulated gossip about her alleged sexual

hi-jinks with her black co-workers.

Dr. King’s activism, viewed as radical and subversive,

had made him the subject of countless

vendettas, resulting in an arrest record consisting of

such various offenses as contempt of court, disorderly

conduct, disturbing the peace, driving without a

license, loitering, tax evasion, and violating probation.

The F.B.I. continued the harassment on their

end by forwarding damaging information on his personal

proclivities to colleges and universities that

conferred honorary degrees and other accolades on

him. His increased visibility in the media, nationally

and internationally, worked Hoover into a frenzy, and

his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 proved to