WHILE ALL the publicity in the past few weeks has been devoted to the new National Gallery East Building, there is another structure in this town deserving of our attention.
It's the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building just down the street. Each day a new revelation comes out that alleges another crime the former FBI director made against him have been blackmail, illegal wire tapping, using public money for private gain, feeding confidential information to help politicians win elections, okaying dirty tricks, condoning forgery, break-ins etc., etc. In sum, we are discovering that J. Edgar Hoover was not a very nice man.
Therefore it behooves us to admit that we may have acted too fast when we named a building after him on one of Washington's main thoroughfares. J. Edgar Hoover, when alive, had enough power to see that no one could tarnish his image. But now that he has gone to that big FBI in the sky we have to ask ourselves, "Do we want our tax dollars to honor a man who didn't give a hoot about protecting everyone's freedom in this country?"
I don't mind, but Turblain, a colleague who was a victim of Mr. Hoover's dirty tricks, does, and he believes the FBI will never have a new image until they chip J. Edgar's name off the building.
"I know the conservatives will scream bloody murder, but how can you have a building in Washington bear the name of a man who committed so many crimes in the name of law and order?" he asked.
"But," I protested, "you can't just chip the two-foot name of a man off a concrete building."
"There is precedent for it," Turblain said. "They did it to Stalin when they discovered what a no-goodnik he was. Whole towns obliterated his name. All I want to do is take J. Edgar's name off one lousy edifice."
"But it would be so expensive."
"I knew that's what you'd say," Turblain told me. "I have a solution which will not only save money but will also keep the conservatives from jumping on Congress' back. We change the J. Edgar Hoover Building to the Herbert Hoover Building. Then we'd only have to drop the J. and the Edgar and substitute Herbert. The name Herbert would fit perfectly and no one in future generations would ever know that J. Edgar had ever been there."
"Why not Herbert? He was an honest man, a good man. He just had a little but luck to be serving during a depression. It could have happened to anyone. There's nothing in Washington of value named after Herbert Hoover, and it's about time we did something about it."
Turblain continued, "Dont't you see what a snap it would be? All the secretaries would have to do is type out J. Edgar's name on the stationery and substitute Herbert's name.
"It would still be known to FBI agents as the Hoover Building, but they wouldn't have to choke up every time they went there in fear that J. Edgar's ghost was till hanging around the water fountain."
"How can you get a federal building's name changed in Washington?" I asked.
"Congress has to do it."
"But won't they be afraid to because of all the people who still believe J. Edgar was a great patriot?"
"They will, until they get a look at what J. Edgar had on them in his files."