Founding Father Thomas Jefferson is unfit to have a holiday named for him. Instead, we celebrate a man whom America’s most engaging first lady deemed “terrible,” “tricky” and “a phony.” Jacqueline Kennedy, as revealed from audio recordings of Mrs. Kennedy’s historic 1964 conversations on life with John F. Kennedy, held a low opinion of MLK, the man America has since deified, and was unafraid to say as much.
There were many reasons not racist for which to dislike MLK, not least of them was the man’s dalliance with communists. “His associations with communists” is why Jacky’s husband, hero of Chris Matthews’ latest book, ordered the wiretaps on King. Mrs. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Robert Kennedy—recounts Patrick J. Buchanan in “Suicide of a Superpower”—”saw to it that the FBI carried out the order.” Among his other endearing qualities, the not-so enchanting Martin Luther King had “declared that the Goldwater campaign bore ‘dangerous signs of Hitlerism.”
Indisputably, MLK set the tone for “assailing America as irredeemably racist” forever after. Other brothers have built on MLK’s work to sculpt careers as professional race hustlers.
Later this week, I will excerpt from Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John Kennedy. Jackie was a dazzling conversationalist, and a forceful, thoughtful person.