The murder/suicide came right after US Congressman Leo Ryan (D-San Mateo) had been murdered by Temple members at the airport, along with some defectors.
In the thirty years which have followed, the Temple has been portrayed as a great experiment with good intentions gone wrong. Yet, sadly, the deaths and torture of Temple members, and the murders of a Congressman could have been prevented, had earlier warnings been heeded and politicians/civic leaders could have cared more about the people they were elected to represent. Instead, these mostly liberal politicians/media types, only saw the Temple Potemkin village they wanted to see, and ignored or silenced any of the warning signs until after it was too late.
Jones' ties to the liberal Democrat community in San Francisco are usually mentioned in passing. It was far greater than just a casual acquaintance. Many owed their political positions to him, namely San Francisco Mayor George Moscone & City Supervisor Harvey Milk. Moscone appointed Jones to head the San Francisco Housing Commission and defended him, up until that tragic day 30 years ago. Both were murdered nearly 10 days later by former Supervisor Dan White, in circumstances not related to Jonestown.
"...Mayor Moscone was terribly indebted to Jones, because Jones sent hundreds of cult members to dozens of precincts and brought a slim victory not only to Moscone but to the young Willie Brown and others in the local machine. It was no problem. For in fact Moscone’s District Attorney, Joseph Freitas—not at all by chance—had positioned Jones’ high-level aide, Timothy Stoen (member of the cult for several years), as attorney in charge of voter fraud. (I interviewed Stoen shortly after he broke out of the cult and admitted his terrible mistakes.)
But Moscone was more fearful than Willie Brown, Ralph Nader, and the rest of those politicos whom Jones got elected. The reason is that Jones knew all about the Mayor and his almost nightly visits to the Tenderloin District’s prostitutes. After all, if I knew about it by way of reporters I worked with and who chuckled about having followed Moscone’s limousine to his occasional rendezvous, you can bet that Jones not only knew, but let the Mayor know that he knew."
....The Bay Area elites saw Jones’ energy and how they could use it. The inner city crowd thought he was the answer to all problems, seen or unseen. Jones had invaded Bay Area ecclesiastical sanctuaries as well as political arenas throughout the State of California. Jerry Brown spoke from his pulpit, as did (Jimmy) Carter’s wife, Rosalynn. The Lieutenant Governor and Jones scratched each other’s backs to the bone, and even went to the Caribbean together. Indeed, this “Marxist Messiah” had managed more than ten years, scheming in and out and through the back alleys of California’s darkest political regions.
Jones succeeded because California was infested with liberals who laughed proudly at anyone to their right. They even scoffed at a couple of conservatives who shouted warnings into the deaf skulls of scoundrels unable to see past the glowing tips of their marijuana stogies."
Harvey Milk also owed his election as supervisor to Jones' Temple volunteers, a fact ignored by history (except by writer Randy Shilts) after his murder days after the Jonestown slayings. Even today, a new movie, Milk, starring Marin County's (soon to be former??) head moonbat, Sean Penn, ignores the ties to Jones & Peoples Temple.
Proof below of Milk's deep ties to Jones is a letter Milk wrote to President Carter in February 1978 to support Jim Jones in regards to a custody battle between the cult leader and his former advisor Tim Stoen over Stoen's son, whom Jones claimed was his. This was written after Jones had left San Francisco due to the bad publicity from media reports, five years too late (more on that later).
Milk is not the only celluloid work which ignores this inconvenient truth. Jonestown was the subject of a play and "documentary" in which it was portrayed as a great experiment in different races and cultures living in harmony that just went wrong. Never mind that the Temple leadership was all white, and large number Temple members were black. Jonestown, with its long work hours, could more accurately be seen as a 20th century plantation and Jones as a modern day slave owner rather than any sort of attempt at racial equality.
But that doesn't stop the apologists, many of whom are true-believing Leftists who still hold to the views which attracted them to the Temple.
"People did not join Peoples Temple so they could go down to a jungle and drink cyanide and die," said (Fielding) McGehee, whose wife, institute co-founder Rebecca Moore, lost two sisters and a nephew at Jonestown. "They joined wanting to make a better world, but in order to fulfill their dreams they made compromises and mistakes along the way that they shouldn't have." (SF Chronicle).
McGehee conveniently forgets that the Temple had been ordering shipments of cyanide for what it called "jewelry purposes" for years before the massacre. The mass suicide had also been rehearsed several times. To these apologists, the truth doesn't matter, because the greater ideal--socialist utopia--must be defended. Think I'm kidding? McGehee's wife, Rebecca Moore, wrote two books entitled "In Defense of Peoples Temple" and "A Sympathetic History of Jonestown." Moore even said on a recent MSNBC special on the Temple that "'cult' is a four letter word." Well. hell, with that reasoning, you could say 'Nazi' is a four letter word as well and make some lame brained claim about how great Hitler's Germany supposedly was.
That's not the first Moore absurdity. In 2005, Moore (in true Leftist Bush-bashing fashion) wrote:
"...the situation of desperate poverty experienced by African Americans seems not just unchanged, but even worse in 2005 than in 1978. The message of hope, the overcoming of racial inequality, and the level of security which Peoples Temple provided would be just as appealing today as it was back then. As if to illustrate this point, one former Temple member told us, if this had happened 30 years ago, the fleet of Temple buses packed with people and supplies, which Jim Jones would have sent down to New Orleans to help out, would have arrived before FEMA did. ...It is quite clear that, ...our government failed its citizens after Hurricane Katrina. It is also clear that these same failures are what prompted people to join Peoples Temple and to pack up and leave the United States for Jonestown."
Moore also wrote days after Jonestown, according to pg 146 of Dear People:
"Folks are anxious about the "death squads." I am going to prepare-leave some papers and evidence-in case I am "accidentally" killed in a robbery attempt, or some such bullshit. The FBI is the only "death squad" I know of. And their henchmen, the mafia."
Tim Carter is another Leftist who goes into similar rants. Attracted to the Temple after coming back "disillusioned" from the Vietnam War, Carter wrote recently about the 30th anniversary in which he compares the Bush Administration to Peoples Temple in "bullying" people over the Patriot Act. Carter also makes the untrue claim that Habeus Corpus has been suspended.
Similarly, the Chronicle article today also states: "The Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Methodist Church says Jones was able to blind people with his charisma, and the catastrophe that occurred at Jonestown 'opened our eyes. We won't go along today with anyone who will run over poor people.'" Of course, Williams' eyes are still blinded. The only threat to poor people in his eyes are Republicans only, never his own liberal breathren.
Williams awarded Jones the 1977 Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian of the Year award (see above photo).
San Francisco media was complicit to the rise of Jim Jones, as a 1972 expose was cancelled after only four of eight articles ran in the San Francisco Examiner. The cancellation of the expose came after a protest by Jones and the Temple, as well as threats of lawsuits. There is no mention in the Chronicle story, nor in Tim Reiterman's AP article about these 1972 exposes and the cowardice of the Examiner editors. Thirty years after the fact, San Francisco media outlets are still covering their collective asses for their failure to stand up to this madman, which could have saved the lives of 900 people.
This week, when you read the stories of a "great social experiment gone wrong" keep in mind there's more than that. The themes of Jonestown echo today, in various forms. There are similar "cult of personality" types who sway crowds and who are protected by an adoring media.
In that vein, Santayana's saying "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (which hung at Jonestown) is highly prophetic.