It’s interesting for me to imagine the perspective of someone who supports the FBI and isn’t frightened of it.
In my reading of history, the FBI has been arbitrarily oppressing Americans since its inception.
For decades, the Bureau singled out and surveilled domestic Communists. I am as opposed to Communism as they were; but harassing a minority group for their unorthodox beliefs is plainly unAmerican.
In the 1950s, the Bureau assembled files on suspected homosexuals and used its surveillance equipment to gather more evidence against them. The goal was to rid the organization – and the entire federal government – of gay people.
What the heck was J. Edgar Hoover thinking? Why haven’t we demanded the abolishment of the FBI? The FBI should be a shameful remnant of our past, like Jim Crow.
Oh, speaking of Jim Crow: J. Edgar Hoover actively opposed the Civil Rights Movement. And the Anti-war Movement. And, for some reason, the Women’s Liberation Movement. The Bureau is a secret police without restraint or accountability. The question isn’t whether the FBI will arbitrarily oppress people; the question is: who’s next?
To complicate things, there have been times when the FBI went after actual bad guys rather than just its political opponents. The propaganda film “The FBI Story” is a surprisingly effective counterpoint to everything I’ve said.
Jimmy Stewart is amazing as always as Chip Hardesty: a lifetime G-Man.
One of his first missions is to head down south to take on the Ku Klux Klan.
Then Hardesty is off to Oklahoma to unravel the mystery of a greedy banker who is killing Native Americans to steal their oil-rich property.
“The FBI Story” is so much better than I was expecting. I enjoy watching intelligent films that present ideas that I had never considered before.
Director Mervyn LeRoy takes the time to show us how stressful Hardesty’s job is and the toll it takes on his family. The biggest surprise about “The FBI Story” is how respectful it is to Hardesty’s wife Lucy. She’s a three-dimensional character and she isn’t always supportive of the Bureau.
To fight bootleggers and gangsters in the 1930s, Congress agrees to arm federal agents with machine guns. Hardesty is pumped. Lucy thinks it’s a bad idea. And the movie lets you decide who’s right. Plenty of notorious criminals get gunned down. But is that really what federal bureaucrats are supposed to be doing?
Agent Hardesty boasts of the work that his team did to protect us from Nazi sympathizers during World War II.
But then he glosses over the unforgivable treatment of Asian Americans. In 1940 and ‘41, the FBI compiled a list of the names and addresses of Japanese-Americans. On the very day of Pearl Harbor, federal agents sprung into action – rounding up and arresting thousands of innocent people.
The FBI certainly must do some good, but it is too powerful and too scary for me to support.
The FBI harassed Martin Luther King Jr. The FBI arrested four-year-old George Takei. With the internet and The Patriot Act, the Bureau has more surveillance power than ever. What on Earth is there to stop them from coming after you?