Yes, yes, I know the Neoliberal corporate media narrative is that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.was slain in Memphis by a scruffy drifter and lone loser named James Earl Ray. This is exactly what they want you to believe, since god forbid anyone venture out of the vanilla PR matrix - to reveal King's legacy has been airbrushed away to remove the fact he was a revolutionary in the sights of the national security state.....and yes, good ol' LBJ.
As salon.com's Joan Walsh observes in her piece ('The Radical MLK We Need Today') this morning
"King crossed some Democrats and labor leaders when he turned against the Vietnam War in 1967, after his unparalleled Riverside Church speech. He knew the war was not only wrong, but was making Johnson’s alleged “War on Poverty” fiscally impossible. Meanwhile a growing black power movement mocked King’s commitment to nonviolence and integration. Even some close allies in the civil rights movement blanched when he joined Marion Wright Edelman and other organizers to start a Poor People’s Campaign later that year – a movement of black, white, Latino, American Indian and Asian people mired in poverty, to fight the war and get the help they deserved. They were to march on Washington and set up a camp there in April 1968, the month King was assassinated."
Though she doesn't venture into the plot to kill Martin, we in the deep politics community are aware that once he came out aggressively against the Vietnam War his days were essentially numbered. We know from more than a year earlier LBJ had Hoover monitor Rev. King's comings and goings - who he spoke to, who he affiliated with. We also know - despite the Neolib media wanting to cover it up- LBJ had already gotten away with the crime of the century in the JFK assassination, using the bogus Warren Commission as a Potemkin investigation to cover his crime.
In his Nov. 23rd 'UP' program, Steve Kornacki briefly brought LBJ's impending criminal investigations to attention for the first time on national television, though I wonder how many actually watched it. Kornacki's assorted clips showed LBJ was on the verge of being exposed in a massive LIFE magazine piece (and Senate investigation) for his role in the Bobby Baker scandal - including influence peddling to net millions of dollars- with the money trail to be published. Hence HE stood to gain the most, at just the right instant of time, with JFK killed. Instantly he became the great "successor" as opposed to damaged criminal, and dropped from JFK's '64 ticket.
Those who wish to examine the document basis in more detail are advised to get hold of Philip Nelson's, 'LBJ - The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination' which make a profoundly credible case for Johnson's involvement - again noting Kennedy's removal cleared the way for Johnson to accede to the Presidency and escape a long prison sentence. The Warren Commission was his vehicle for clearing any culpability - using his pal Hoover as the "cleanup man". (E.g. ensuring that no controverting evidence -i.e. to that painting Oswald as the lone nut assassin- found its way before the Commissioners.)
The point is that if LBJ got away with one major crime, he'd have been emboldened to do it again, especially when King's anti-Vietnam speeches were tarnishing his legacy to promote civil rights.
William F. Pepper, author of Orders to Kill, in a speech he gave on Feb. 4, 2003, noted that what incepted his investigation into the King killing was an article by journalist Steve Tompkins in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It dealt with the infiltration of the civil rights movement and black leaders by U.S. military intelligence.
The article showed that what transpired in the 50s, and 60s was a continuation of what had seized the American security state zeitgeist since the Russian Revolution. That is, that blacks were regarded as the prime candidates for being recruited as communists because they had the most motivation for revolution against the imperious white -controlling state. Hoover suspected Rev. King was in this category as well, and used that to justify hounding him.
Pepper noted that "one paragraph" in particular caught his eye. It noted that on the day of Rev. King's assassination there was in place a Special Forces Alpha 184 team, and no one understood at the time why this 6-man sniper unit was present in Memphis. Pepper then approached Tompkins, observing this introduced a whole other dimension to the case - which was now not nearly as closed as the media would have had us believe.
In the preceding, Pepper observes that:
"Martin King was killed because he had become intolerable. It was not just that he opposed the war and was going to the bottom line of a number of the major corporations of the United States, those forces that essentially rule the world at this point in time - the transnational entities. But more importantly, I think the reason is because he was going to bring a mass of people to Washington in the spring of '68 and that was very troubling.
The military knew that once he started out bringing the wretched of America to camp out in the shadow of the Washington Memorial - and go every day to see their Senators and Congressmen - to try to get social program monies put back that were taken out because of the war- and they got rebuffed again and again they'd become increasingly angry. It was the assessment of the Army that he would lose control of that group."
Pepper goes on to indicate that had the event spiraled out of control there would not have been enough troops available to quell the violent (they suspected) results. Hence, taking out King removed the threat of instability.
My additional take is that LBJ wanted King's voice silenced once and for all. He'd gotten too much attention on the Vietnam issue, and it undermined LBJ's "great legacy" - having already taken control of all of Kennedy's ideas and programs and pushed them through. Let's also bear in mind the Army itself would have done nothing without the go ahead from the "commander- in-chief".Joan Walsh in her piece on MLK today writes:
Harry Belafonte likewise thinks much of American political culture “is guilty of dealing with Dr. King’s life and story in grievously superficial ways. What gave us all strength to do what we did was his radical thinking.” Acknowledging that King’s turn against the war and toward cross-racial, anti-poverty organizing was “controversial” among his closest colleagues, Belafonte notes:
“It was controversial, but controversy wasn’t something he shunned; controversy became the system through which disagreement and debate could be heard. He was comfortable with that. He welcomed it. That aspect of his history is never really discussed."
And he added:
“The vested interests don’t want us speaking of Dr. King in radical terms. The great tragedy and irony of it all is that the public hungers for voices that are driven more by these moral concerns.”
As I've noted before, the warp and woof of the corporate media has been to soft soap our history and even our heroes, like JFK, MLK, and RFK. They want us to believe they were all simply offed by isolated lone nuts, but the deep politics of each case says otherwise: that all were victims of the national security state and its allies. History only makes sense when treated not as a succession of facts to be memorized, but as an analysis of countervailing forces set in opposition to each other for attainment of power and/or resources. The conspiracy zeitgeist only becomes manifest and apparent in this context - and not allowing oneself to become a victim of what Curtis White has called "the Middle Mind". This is a molded - by PR - entity, averse to scrutinizing any event below the superficial media-market tropes and sound bites. It is terrified of what it may learn, say about the 60s' assassinations, and therefore sticks to the safe, conforming path offered by the media - never diverging too far beyond the lines.
Martin Luther King's voice, like Kennedy's before him, inveighed against the military -security state's infrastructure and its alignment with corporate power - seeking to instead disburse social capital to the average citizen. Until we understand that, and get our heads on the right side of history, we will remain victims and not victors - in the ongoing fight to be a truly free people - as opposed to hostages of a Potemkin Democracy - which is really a Corporatocracy.