In a piece the Texas Tribune Lyndon Baines Johnson Library director and LBJ apologist Mark Updegrove argues that because of “his keen sense of social justice” LBJ would support Gay marriage if he were alive today. We must assume Mr. Updegrove made this argument with a straight face.
This attempt to rewrite history comes on the heels of an effort by LBJ defenders to discredit the largely accurate movie Selma which accurately portrays LBJ’s foot dragging on voting rights in 1965 and his contempt for Martin Luther King.
Sense of social justice? The Man Who Killed Ken... Best Price: $2.37 Buy New $6.87 (as of 07:35 EDT - Details)
In fact, as president, LBJ ordered Aide Bill Moyers to order the FBI to ferret out Republican gays who he could “out” to distract from the arrest of his own Chief of Staff Walter Jenkins in a DC Men’s Room. Jenkins died of AIDS in 1985.
The truth is that Lyndon Baines Johnson was a life-long bigot and segregationist who resisted numerous attempts to eliminate the poll tax and literacy tests during his 23-year career in the House and Senate. He blocked every major and minor piece of meaningful civil rights legislation as the leader of the Southern block in the U.S. Senate, and as its powerful majority leader.
Johnson would do an about-face on civil rights immediately upon becoming president. He did so to begin the creation of a grand legacy for himself through the passage of the same legislation that White House Call Girl:... Best Price: $6.73 Buy New $10.69 (as of 08:30 EDT - Details) he had previously impeded, and to fend off a challenge from Robert Kennedy at the 1964 Democratic convention. No sense of social justice here. As a congressman, LBJ said that President Truman’s civil rights program “is a farce and a sham — an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty. I am opposed to that program. I have voted against the so-called poll tax repeal bill . . . I have voted against the so-called anti-lynching bill.”
It was Lyndon Johnson who neutered the 1957 Civil Rights Act with a poison pill amendment that required violators of the act be tried before state (all-white), not federal juries. Many contemporary liberals including Joseph Rauh, the president of Americans for Democratic Action, and A. Philip Randolph, a vice president of the AFL-CIO, called the bill worthless, and “worse than no bill at all. ”Nor did LBJ’s personal conduct reflect support for civil rights. His black chauffeur Robert Parker wrote in his book “Capitol Hill in Black and White” of his personal experiences. “I would drive Johnson and his party up to the front gate of Navy stadium with instructions to be waiting there when they [the senators] walked out after the game. Whenever I was late, no matter what the reason, Johnson called me a lazy, good-for-nothing n*gger. He especially liked to call me n*gger in front of Southerners and racists like Richard Russell. It was, I soon learned, LBJ’s way of being one of the boys.” Nixonu2019s Secrets: T... Best Price: $1.87 Buy New $4.28 (as of 07:35 EDT - Details)
As vice president, Lyndon Johnson orchestrated Southern congressional opposition to John F. Kennedy’s civil rights agenda and repeatedly warned JFK to go slow on the civil rights, voting rights, and open housing legislation that Kennedy had promised in his 1960 campaign. LBJ, it seems, was reserving these initiatives for himself. He repeatedly cautioned President Kennedy to wait “until the time is right.” On Capitol Hill, Johnson simultaneously lobbied his “establishment” friends to stall that same legislation. In fact, LBJ did none of the arm-twisting for the 1964 Civil Rights Act himself. He left that to Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Neither Johnson nor Humphrey could deliver all Democrats, though, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act only passed with the support of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen and 27 Senate Republicans. LBJ did strip the voting rights section out of the 1964 bill. The movie “Selma” accurately portrays LBJ as reluctant to push a voting rights bill in 1965 and using the FBI to wiretap the hotel rooms and harass Dr. Martin Luther King.
FBI Director Hoover was pushing for wire-tap authorization because his surveillance revealed King was meeting with known Communist named Levinson.
Confessions of a D.C. ... Best Price: $9.75 Buy New $12.00 (as of 08:35 EDT - Details) RFK reluctantly approved the wire tap –for 30 days only- because he needed J. Edgar Hoovers’s help to spirit JFK mistress Ellen Romestsch, an East German Spy, out of the country before she became a scandal. RFK’s real power ended the day his brother died. Wiretaps approved by Robert Kennedy on Oct 10. 1963 for 30 days only were then kept in place by LBJ once he became president. LBJ played the tapes of King in the act of adultery for his political cronies.
In fact, a recording of phone call between LBJ and his Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, proves that Johnson knew that the FBI was taping King — “that must be where the evidence comes from . . . with some of the women, and that kind of stuff.” Katzenbach told LBJ that the King wiretap was one that his predecessor, Robert Kennedy, had authorized, and “which I’ve been ambivalent about taking off.”
In a memo, LBJ’s Chief of Staff Walter Jenkins instructed the FBI to leak sex dirt they had collected on MLK to the media of the day.” Keen sense of social justice?
LBJ came out for a voting rights bill only forced his hand with the graphic publicity of the Bloody Selma march. Selma movie director Ava DeVenay deserved a Oscar and her movie is historically accurate. Even when LBJ did the right thing on civil rights he did so for the wrong reason. Author and Newsmax contributor, Ronald Kessler, reported LBJ telling a group of Southern cronies, “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for 200 years.”
Reprinted with the author’s permission.