Wednesday, April 6, 2011

1998: James Earl Ray, Again

Dr. King's son Dexter shaking hands with James Earl Ray
This month [April 1998] marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, a topic which this column has addressed before. The latest news on this case involves a retired FBI agent, one Donald Wilson, who says he has evidence, collected 30 years ago, which supports James Earl Ray's claim of innocence in the murder. The FBI, predictably, has called Mr. Wilson's evidence "a complete fabrication." But just ask yourself who has more motivation to lie about this: Wilson or the FBI?

This anniversary is being marked by the same sort of nonsense in the media that we see with the JFK case every five years. Both ABC and CBS presented specials on the King case last month, each following a familiar structure. Maybe you can produce your own bold expose if you follow this formula: First, tell the audience what "some conspiracy theorists" believe. Leave out all of their most convincing evidence; mention only the most incredible claims. Then, take a skeptical look at the Official Story, poking holes in a few weak spots. Finally, break out the big guns and shoot those wacko conspiracy buffs out of the water. Convincingly refute a minor claim or two in their theories. Conclude by speculating darkly that "we may never know the truth."

ABC, for instance, completely forgot to mention that several others have admitted to involvement in the crime, including one Lloyd Jowers, who, like Ray, is nearing the end of his life. He'd be happy to tell what he knows if the case is reopened, but this is something the Memphis DA is loath to do. Using somewhat circular reasoning, he refuses to grant Mr. Ray a trial on the grounds that the case has already been "litigated to death." Oh, really?

Of course, there's an element of racism in the media's shocked and condescending dismay at the King family's belief that Ray is telling the truth. Just a bunch of simple folk, you see, easily led astray by these conspiracy people. Nobody tries to deny that J. Edgar Hoover held an extraordinary degree of animosity towards Dr. King. But media muppets shake their heads sadly when Dexter King opines that LBJ "had to have known" about the existence of a plot to kill Dr. King.

Our President Johnson? But of course, what the talking heads forget to mention is that there has already been testimony under oath linking Lyndon Johnson to political murder. Billy Sol Estes, one of Johnson's close friends, testified in 1984 that Johnson was directly involved in the death of an agent of Agriculture Department. The agent, one Henry Marshall, was killed in 1961 when his investigation of a multi-million dollar swindle got too close to Estes and Johnson.

If, as seems likely, a conspiracy involving US Government officials was behind the death of Dr. King, it's no wonder the government is so reluctant to reopen the case. At the same time, the corporate media are probably not real keen on uncovering stories that show they've been lying to us for thirty years. After all, the CBS special was hosted by Dan Rather, who has a proven track record of spreading disinformation on the JFK case. Remind me to tell you about that this November, when the 35th anniversary of that one rolls around.

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