Good Work

I spent Friday morning at the downtown library because I believe it is imperative to avoid graduations if you’re not going to them, for the sake of your sanity. I was sitting in the cafe at lunch when I heard someone hollering my name. It was my co-worker, who had been downtown for some meetings.

“Wow,” she said. “I looked over and I almost didn’t recognize you. You look so happy.”

I don’t know what that says about how I normally look at work, but it seems like it’s not good. Ha ha ha.

I had to go back over yesterday and then I ran to the TSLA to get an obituary and then I spent part of the afternoon doing FOIA requests with the FBI.

I can’t remember if I said this already, but I need to keep it in the forefront of my mind, so I’m saying it again. The trick is to understand that, yes, there is a conspiracy, but to not let myself get sucked into ridiculous conspiratorial thinking. The way I’m trying to balance that is to only accept as reasonable a theory when I can find a factual example of something similar having happened.

This could work broadly–could J.B. Stoner have been sleeping with Dr. Fields? Would homosexual relations have been accepted in the white supremacist community? Well, one of the 16th Street Baptist Church bomber was known to be gay, so okay. That rumor could be true. Probably not useful, but plausible.

Or particularly–Gladys Girgenti was convicted of trying to bomb the Temple here in town. She left the Detroit area right after the Pontiac bus bombings. She said she was a 30-year Klan member and I discovered that her family was from here and still lives here. She wasn’t from Detroit. She was of the demographic that went north for work. So, on the one hand, I don’t have any reason to believe that she was involved with the bombings I’m working on, but I don’t think it’s a crazy conspiracy to think she was running in the right circles to know something.

And looking at particular bombing suspects, I haven’t ruled anyone out, but I feel like it’s more plausible that people who were life-long horribly terrible people are more likely to have been the bombers than the people who were just medium terrible. So, if I have three people, all segregationists, and one went on to have an okay life full of people who loved him and one who seemed not to make an impression on the world after his activities in the ’50s, and one who continued to be a nightmare to all who knew him, I’m not discounting that a person could have done one horrifically evil thing and then never done anything wrong again in his whole life, but I am putting the third guy at the top of my list. He gets first scrutiny.

And yet, of course, there were outlandish things that seem impossible–like Gary Rowe. Once you know that it’s a proven and accepted fact that the FBI had a dude who was doing the things on their payroll and they covered for him and kept him safe, then what do we make of the fact that the police knew immediately where to go to find who might be involved in the Hattie Cotton bombing and went immediately to a place after the JCC bombing to see if a certain person, whoever he might be, was the bomber (and there was some indication he might have at least made the bomb), but had no idea, no plausible candidates for the Looby bombing? We ran out of violent jerks between 58 and 60? That seems unlikely. At the least, shouldn’t they have checked in with their earlier suspects?

The fact that they had no ideas seems utterly unlikely to me. But that they might have known but left him alone? That I can see.



One thought on “Good Work

  1. This is fascinating, though I’d be concerned about drawing too fine a line between otherwise mundane (or even ‘decent’) individuals and monstrous deeds. What Hannah Arendt, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, and others have exhaustively illustrated is that people and deeds are not measured against a reliably objective scale of evil. They are usually judged by the subjective value we place on their victims.

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