THE DAILY NEWS of April 21, 1969, mentions the ‘Malcolm X” affair when it makes the usual correction: in the preceding issue a caption said Dr Malcolm X had been killed in New York. This is obviously not true: he is still alive. This phrase may have been inserted there to convey the impression that this man had been murdered in New York.
The Daily News is an organ of the mayor of New York; and when Mayor Abe Beame believes that someone has been murdered in New York, he usually means that someone has been murdered in New York. For Mr Beame, it does not matter whether or not a fellow American of coloured origin has been murdered in New York.
Abe Beame has spoken five times on the subject of Malcolm X. In the first instance he said that he was convinced that this man had been murdered, and second that he would ‘do all he could do to find out what happened’. In the second instance he said that the authorities would investigate the matter and in the third he said that ‘if that little fox’ had been wrong, he would ‘seal his fate as the absolute one’. The fourth time he said that he thought it would take ‘some weeks’ to know ‘how any wrong may have been committed’. This last statement is ominous: New York police have shown us how little they can do: they are attempting to investigate a crime which is not suspected. Why this suspicion is not totally held, let us wait for the outcome of the official inquiry.
But we do know that, while New York is uncertain, Chicago is certain. We know, indeed, that if Mr Beame heard what Malcolm X said while he was speaking at a church in Chicago, he would probably have taken Mr Beame as a professed racist, too.
I do not think that the faithful listener to the Daily News of April 21 would have been forced to think that Malcolm X had been killed in New York. He was not in New York. He was not in Chicago. He is alive and is busy thinking up new and better ways to reconcile himself with the white man.
New York, June 16