Former FBI Director James Comey has been a public figure for a long time, but we are only now really getting to know him. It is difficult to fathom the depth of his self-regard. He is deeply imbued with the sense of his own righteousness. He therefore played the part of a straight-talking G-Man with undiluted conviction.
No one would ever mistake him for a man with a sense of humor or irony. We learn from his Twitter feed that he may be the least self-aware man in the United States.
Martin Luther King’s fraught relationship with the FBI has long been a matter of public knowledge. David Garrow focused on this element of King’s ordeal in his ground-breaking 1981 history The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. It makes for painful reading. Garrow recounts the FBI’s surveillance of King, its use of paid informants on him, and its carefully orchestrated letter-writing campaign against him. Perhaps some day we can get Comey’s reflections on this history in the context of the bureau’s work on the 2016 presidential campaign. Comey, however, prefers to have us see him lost in reveries of “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” (tweet below).
On MLK day, I like to read his Letter From Birmingham Jail, which still resonates: “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away… and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation…”
— James Comey (@Comey) January 15, 2018
Comey’s tweet inspired many to push back, both from the left and from the right. Several of the responses prominently feature the anonymous 1964 letter associated with the FBI in which King was urged to commit suicide. Nick Gillsepie wrote about it on the Reason site yesterday here. Check out the responses on Comey’s Twitter thread here.
NOTE: Garrow is also the author of one of the notable nonfiction books of 2017 on my top 10 list.