Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gandhi and Malcolm X

I wasn't surprised at the Gandhi biographies starting to see through the fraud at this point, but I admit that I was surprised and saddened about the same happening to Malcolm X. It hadn't occurred to me to doubt that his Autobiography was anything but mostly true (I don't expect anyone's to be entirely true), and the book had been influential for me. Somehow it had escaped the general destruction of my 60's radicalism. Perhaps if I had paid attention to the Alex Haley connection, I would have. I recalled that Malcolm's autobiography had actually been put together from interviews by another writer, and knew that Haley's Roots had been clobbered for both plagiarism and inaccuracy, but I had never put the two things together - likely because I never reread it after 1970.

MLK remains standing for his primary work, I suppose - the sensing that the time for justice was right, and could be forced, should be forced, in the 50's and 60's. The negatives against him are real enough - the affairs, the arrogance that allowed him to be manipulated by communist associates into preaching on topics on which he knew little - but these recede in the face of the One Great Thing. Many others saw the injustice; many others sensed the time was right; many others had the courage; many others were gifted communicators in written and spoken word. Martin was all four.

But Kennedy - hmm, both Kennedy's are rather tarnished now. Not fully discredited or contemptible, but tarnished. What liberal icons remain standing, now that the data is in? Who is left?


Sam L. said...

I expect Jimmuh Cahtuh's bio to follow this pattern.

Gringo said...

The debunking of Malcolm X is not new. In his book Malcolm: The Life of the Man Who Changed Black America , which came out in 1992, author Bruce Perry examines Malcolm X and his autobiography. Here is a clue why one might today be inclined to not take all of Malcolm X’s autobiography at face value: Alex Haley assisted in the process.

Yes, the same Alex Haley whose Roots has been shown to be as much fiction as history.

Lee Jay Walker said...

Malcolm X and Arab slavery!