J. Edgar Hoover
“”Why is J. Edgar Hoover on your phone?
I don't know. He's on everybody else's phone, why shouldn't he be on mine?
J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) was a famous American extortionist who headed the FBI and had a large building in Washington, D.C. unfortunately named after him. He ran the Bureau for 37 years, and was known for both his improper and illegal conduct, both at the behest and independent of the Presidents he served under, and organizing surveillance against both officials in presidential administrations, and famous activists like Martin Luther King, Jr.
Leonardo DiCaprio, in 2011, under the direction of Clint Eastwood, recently presented a more dignified portrait of the man than ever existed in reality, in J. Edgar. At least he never talked to a chair. And no, Leo did not get an Oscar for that.
While J. Edgar Hoover didn't start the trend of McCarthy-ish political delusions of seeing the commies everywhere, he certainly exacerbated it to another level entirely. His career in law enforcement really took off when Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer gave him the noble task of rounding up loudmouth pinkos and assorted foreigners during the 1919 Red Scare, and he just sort of stuck with what he knew after that, regardless of what was actually happening around him. This culminated in his being convinced that the aforementioned Dr. King was a communist and declaring the Black Panther Party as the greatest political threat to the United States. Even the United States Department of Justice thought he was taking his rhetoric too far.
Of course Hoover was more than eager to turn a blind eye to actual American terrorists on the Right, at one time even withholding evidence on the notorious 16th Street Baptist Church bombings from Alabama prosecutors until all but blackmailed into releasing it. Maybe if he didn't coddle the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens' Council so much he wouldn't have had to contend with the black power backlash... you know, the thing MLK explicitly warned him about.
- Nothing to do with the Hoover Dam, that's someone else.
- "I think, frankly, that he overstated the concern, the real concern, that the Black Panthers were to the country." Jerris Leonard, first Administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistant Administration
- "Although King was hesitant to criticize Black Power openly, he told his staff on 14 November 1966 that Black Power 'was born from the wombs of despair and disappointment. Black Power is a cry of pain. It is in fact a reaction to the failure of White Power to deliver the promises and to do it in a hurry... The cry of Black Power is really a cry of hurt.'"