James Gagliano, a retired FBI officer, has a thoroughly ridiculous column expressing in howls of outrage how unfair it is to call J. Edgar Hoover a racist. He compares it to ISIS blowing up treasures from antiquity, of all things, and this is the kind of arguments he has for why Hoover wasn’t a racist:
Many of those who worked with, and under Hoover have objected to the characterization that he was a “racist.” In an agency that zealously prided itself on storing and archiving documents, where is the “smoking gun” memo from Hoover that used the N-word?
Hoover took charge in 1924 and oversaw the FBI until his death in 1972. Many of his notes, letters, and documents are available. Many detailed discussions during the Civil Rights Era. And the N-word, sadly, carried little of the shame and stigmatization in its usage during Hoover’s lifetime that it rightly does today. Yet Hoover appears to have eschewed it.
Wow. He didn’t use a racial slur in official government documents, he must not have been a racist! Gagliano also points out that Hoover had black FBI agents. So compelling. I bet he even let them use the bathroom. How could anyone think he was racist? Well let us count the ways. Let’s start with his decades long attempt to undermine the civil rights movement, which included illegally spying on civil rights leaders and, infamously, sending a letter to Martin Luther King encouraging him to commit suicide. Nah, nothing racist about that all.
Then there’s the fact that, under Hoover, every single FBI agent was required to have at least one informant reporting to them about black activists, and agents in DC needed at least six of them. If they failed at that, they were punished. And the entire COINTELPRO program, which included the illegal wiretaps and bugs that were used to blackmail the nation’s most prominent black civil rights activists.
The man spent decades trying to destroy the civil rights movement. What more evidence could one possibly need that he was a racist?