Friday, December 27, 2013

The Ends of Power 5

On page 145 of The Ends of Power, H.R. Haldeman (with Joseph DiMona) states:

“Ironically enough, given my own involvement in the White House taping system, I hate wiretapping because I hate prying into anyone’s private life.  I remember when J. Edgar Hoover called me at the White House and said he was sending over the transcripts of the Martin Luther King tapes.  The FBI had bugged King’s hotel room when the Kennedys were in power and caught King enjoying extramarital trysts.  I don’t blame the Kennedys completely for that wiretapping because I know how much Hoover was personally obsessed with King.  When I received the FBI Director’s call, I said I didn’t want to see the transcripts.  The man was dead.  But Hoover, no great fan of the Civil Rights movement at any time, wanted the White House to see them to show that King wasn’t ‘such a saint as they’re making him out to be today.’  Presumably, we would inform Civil Rights leaders that their idol had feet of clay.  Hoover sent the material over.  I took one glance at the top page and pushed it back into the envelope.  I found the content of that first page almost as disgusting as Hoover’s attempted use of the transcripts.”

I have to admire someone who respects people’s privacy and does not feel a need to catch up on the latest gossip.  I’m not entirely like this, for I enjoy reading biographies that get into how people were—-the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I do find that I don’t want to know what people are saying about me, however, but that is primarily so that my own feelings can be spared.  But I think that letting people be is a fine rule of life.  At the same time, I also believe that people going about their merry way and living their own lives, without concern about what is going on in the lives of others, can be quite lonely (not that tapping phones is a solution to this!).

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