Sexual Liberation and
|‘The first draft of a great work’|
Black Civil Rights
Contribution of White Women
E. Michael Jones
Promoting Negro decadence as ‘primitive’ and closer to nature was the best way to bring about the transvaluation of all values and the demise of the Christian ethos of the West. (p. 463)
By the mid-’60s, it would have been considered downright impious to suggest that Catholics might be able to make their own contribution to race relations apart from their participation in officially sanctioned civil rights marches and protest. In this regard, Thomas Merton was only symbolic of a whole generation of Catholic clergy in this country. The Rev. George H. Dunne, S. J., wrote about his impressions of a recent march in Montgomery, Alabama:
The average Alabaman is convinced that the only people in the civil rights movement are queers, beatniks, and communists. The three girls with identical Joan Baez-type melancholy hairdos, whom I saw padding the street in their bare feet after James Baldwin as the demonstration dispersed were not, I thought, helping to weaken this opinion.
Neither was James Baldwin for that matter, who made no secret of his homosexuality. Whether Father Dunne knew this or not is uncertain. In this one instance, we needn’t have feared for the virtue of the three Joan Baez look-alikes. Father Dunne, however, goes on to get the whole message coming out of the march exactly wrong. “The cause here,” he opines in direct contradiction to what his senses have just made apparent, “was not the freedom to act like a beatnik... but the freedom of the Alabaman Negro to enjoy the full rights of American citizenship.” In the light of the evidence Father Dunne himself presents, it is unlikely that the young ladies had anything that abstract on their minds. Being a beatnik was a way to enjoy sexual liberation while at the same time believing that that activity was leading to increased voting rights. If the girls had been sleeping with white racists or stockbrokers, their consciences would have reacted differently. (pp. 401-2)
Modernity means sexual liberation. Sexual liberation creates guilt. The only way to deal with guilt among those who refuse to repent is the palliation that comes from social activism. Involvement in social movements like the civil-rights, abortion-rights, and gay-rights movements became a way of calming troubled consciences. The relation between the liberal Left and the civil-rights leadership was symbiotic. The guilt which accrued from carrying out the agenda of the Left, which invariably involved some form of sexual liberation, was anesthetized by involvement in fighting for the Negro’s “freedoms,” which invariably meant some form of eugenic sterilization to weaken black demographics and the political power which accrued from it. As Paul Spike said of his father, “Working to free black Americans, he himself became free.” The right racial politics allowed him to justify the particular sexual vices he craved. His particular craving had to do with homosexuality. Fighting for freedom meant that his conscience was momentarily freed from the burdens that living a double life placed on it. Social activism on behalf of the Negro was the palliative which calmed the sexually burdened conscience of the liberal Left. The Moynihan Report stepped right into the middle of this complicated psychic equation and threatened to expose the sexual roots of liberal adherence to the cause and the main leverage whereby blacks could extort concessions from their guilty white, sexually liberated collaborators. No amount of tact or public relations could disguise this fact from the Left. As a result, they united in opposition to the notion of family stability, and all but made inevitable the spread of family pathology among the Negro. The liberals chose to perpetuate the ghetto as a bulwark to preserve the sexual revolution.
Of course, the civil-rights leadership was not exempt from this dynamic either. They too were subject to the same moral laws, and as subsequent biography has shown, they too were as heavily involved in sexual liberation as the liberal Left. Bayard Rustin, like Spike, was a homosexual. Rustin, a close associate of A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the most noted national black leader, was a former member of the Young Communist League and had been convicted in the early ’60s of homosexual activity with two other men in a parked car. Blacks in this situation needed the high moral ground to calm their consciences every bit as much as the whites did. And as a result they were just as eager to defeat a proposal which necessitated a reform of conduct as the whites were. As the militants raged, less radical black leaders were unable to lead because they were compromised sexually, and they knew that the militants knew it.
The situation of Martin Luther King is a good case in point. In 1965 King flew to Miami for a Ford Foundation-funded Leadership Training Program for black ministers. King spent much of his time holed up in his hotel room, probably because of the controversy below. One of the speakers was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whose report King had endorsed a few months earlier. Moynihan later described the meeting in a letter to a Ford Foundation executive as “an atmosphere of total hostility.” He wrote:
It was the first time I have ever found myself in an atmosphere so suffused with near madness.... The leadership of the meeting was in the hands of near-demented Black militants who consistently stated one untruth after another (about me, about the United States, about the President, about history, etc. etc. ) without a single voice being raised in objection. King, Abernathy and Young sat there throughout, utterly unwilling (at least with me present) to say a word in support of non-violence, integration, or peaceableness.
King, who supported the initiative that spring, could not support it now because he was too sexually compromised himself. As a result, the black leadership capitulated to the militants, and the civil-rights movement chose to perpetuate family pathology rather than relinquish sexual liberation. Garrow makes abundantly clear that King’s reputation as a womanizer was common knowledge among the SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] leadership and beyond. He cites an account as early as the ’50s in the Pittsburgh Courier, a widely read national black newspaper, warning
A prominent minister in the Deep South, a man who has been making the headlines recently in his fight for civil rights... had better watch his step.
According to Garrow,
The paper announced detectives hired by white segregationists... were hoping ‘to create a scandal by catching the preacher in a hotel room with a woman other than his wife, during one of his visits to a Northern city.’
As a result of his sexual involvement, King could not object to the vilification of Moynihan at the Miami ministers’ meeting. When it came to sexual issues, the very issues the Moynihan Report raised, King was unable to lead. He was too badly compromised. The militants knew his weakness and exploited it to their own advantage.
On the issue of sexuality, King was a deeply divided man. On the one hand, when confronted, he would attempt to justify his behavior. When a friend raised the subject of what Garrow calls “his compulsive sexual athleticism,” King answered, “I’m away from home 25 to 27 days a month. Fucking’s a form of anxiety reduction.” However, publicly King would espouse the Christian view. In one of his sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church he said,
Sex is basically sacred when it is properly used and... marriage is man’s greatest prerogative in the sense that it is through and in marriage that God gives man the opportunity to aid him in his creative activity. Therefore, sex must never be abused in the loose sense that it is abused in the modern world.
The disparity between his private life and his public pronouncements would leave King wide open to charges of hypocrisy should the black militants choose to make such charges. J. Edgar Hoover was engaging in a similar form of blackmail from the other end of the political spectrum, a source of constant anxiety for King and his supporters. King could little afford to have the same sort of charges emanating from his own movement. So it is not surprising that he would remain silent. (pp. 457-459)
Garrow relates that
Rutherford’s first shock stemmed from reports of an Atlanta group party that had featured both a hired prostitute as well as the unsuccessful ravishing of a seventeen-year-old SCLC secretary. Rutherford raised the subject at an executive staff session, ‘and the meeting cracked up in laughter....’ King was laughing too, a further reflection of SCLC’s ‘very relaxed attitude toward sex’ and the ‘genuine ribald humor’ that predominated.
Subsequent studies and memoirs of those involved in the civil-rights movement have confirmed that the behavior King exhibited was typical of the SCLC in particular and the civil-rights movement in general. (p. 460)
According to Evans, one male black leader described how white female volunteers “spent the summer, most them, on their backs, servicing not only the SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] workers but anybody else who came.... Where I was project director, we put white women out of the project within the first three weeks because they tried to screw themselves across the city.” “Guilt lurked in all directions,” Evans claimed, “and behind that guilt lay anger.” And behind the anger lay the rise of feminism, and abortion rights, and homosexual activism, and affirmative action and a whole culture of grievance fueled by sexual guilt and the various movements which extort blackmail as a result of it.
The situation came to a head in the fall of 1964 following the voter registration drives of that summer. In November 1964... Stokely Carmichael was regaling white admirers with his ideas on the position of women in the movement at a SNCC staff retreat at Waveland, Mississippi. He was responding to a position paper (number 24) presented at the meeting: “SNCC Position Paper (Women in the Movement)"; the authors’ names (Casey Hayden, pre-Jane Fonda wife of Tom, and Mary King, whose husband would later murder Allard Lowenstein, had written it in discussion with Mary Varela) had been “Withheld by request.”
After a day of acrimonious discussion, Carmichael took a bunch of female admirers and a bottle of wine to a dock overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and after asking rhetorically about the position of women in the movement, answered by saying: “The only position for women in SNCC is prone." Evans recounts that –
Carmichael’s barb was for most who heard it a movement in-joke. It recalled the sexual activity of the summer before – all those young white women who supposedly had spent the summer ‘on their backs.’
Even though she disagrees with much of Evans’s assessment, Mary King thought Carmichael’s remark was funny at the time. “We all collapsed with hilarity,” she wrote in her memoir. (p. 461)
Mary King does her best not to drive a wedge between the politically correct coalition of feminist and black; however, the evidence in her book points to the sexual exploitation practiced in the civil-rights movement as the cause of feminism every bit as much as it does in Sara Evans’ book. King feels that the interracial sexual relationships also led to black separatism because the black women in the civil-rights movement were having their boyfriends taken away from them by the accessibility of too many liberal white women of easy virtue. (p. 462)
E. Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control, St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, Indiana), 2005. With minor edits and references omitted.