Among those to be honored at an August 12 ceremony are Billie Jean King, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Chappaquiddick), Jack Kemp, far-left Bishop Desmond Tutu...and former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk (KTVU-Channel 2).
"These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds," Obama said in a statement.
"Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs," he said. "Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, praised Obama for selecting Milk, a pioneer, she said, who "dedicated and sacrificed his life so that others might live in a world free of discrimination."
"My hope now is that, along with honoring the man, we also honor his work by making the United States of America a land of true equality and freedom," Speier said. "Harvey Milk will receive his real and rightful honor when our nation sheds the last vestiges of our intolerant past."
It is somewhat ironic that Rep. Speier took the time to give a glowing endorsement of Milk, whose only memorable legislation in San Francisco was the city's dog poop act. Because if Milk, as well as the liberal San Francisco political establishment and media, would have had the courage to stand up to and expose a monster they had created, not only might her former boss be alive, but so would nearly 900 Bay Area residents, most of whom were black.
Speier was formerly a legislative aide to Rep. Leo J. Ryan back in 1978. Ryan was killed along with a SF Examiner photographer, an NBC cameraman and some defectors of the formerly San Francisco based People's Temple, who began a commune in the jungle in Guyana, South America. Speier was also wounded by the Temple assassins. Later, the Temple's leader, the "Rev." Jim Jones, ordered his followers to drink cyanide laced "FlavorAid" while those who refused were injected with the poison or were shot. Over 200 children were among the victims of this madman, being given the deadly formula by syringes shot in their mouths. It was the largest mass murder of Americans, up until September 11, 2001.
So what does Harvey Milk have to do with Jim Jones? He owed his political career as the first openly gay office holder in America directly to the community organizer "Rev." Jones and his followers. Here is a handwritten note to Jones from Harvey Milk, in which he says:
"Hearing your voice on Sunday gave me a warm feeling...my name is cut into stone in support of you & your people."
"A Man Of The Highest Character" (Milk re: Jones)
After a 1977 expose of the Temple in New West Magazine (the first expose in 1972 by the San Francisco Examiner was censored after Jones & Temple lawyers threatened the editors with lawsuits), Jones and his commune fled San Francisco for the jungle of Guyana. A few months later, in February 1978, Milk wrote the following letter on City of San Francisco letterhead to then President Jimmy Carter, in defense of the future mass murderer Jones. It was due to a paternity suit against Jones by two former Temple members, Tim & Grace Stoen, over their son John Victor. Milk called the Stoens "bold faced liars" and accused Grace Stoen, in particular, of trying to blackmail radical American Indian leader Dennis Banks. Milk also wrote to Carter.
“Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities here and elsewhere as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness. ...Not only is the life of a child at stake, who currently has loving and protective parents in the Rev. and Mrs. Jones, but our official relations with Guyana could stand to be jeopardized, to the potentially great embarrassment of our State Department.”
Some of you liberals (and Obama Kool-Aid drinkers) reading this will no doubt give the excuse, "but, Harvey Milk wasn't the only one. So many others were drawn in by Jones and didn't know, until it was too late."
"Make sure you're always nice to the Peoples Temple," he admonished her (note: a volunteer). "If they ask you to do something, do it, and then send them a note thanking them for asking you to do it. They're weird and they're dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side."
"It would take so much time to explain to people who Jim Jones was," said Dan Jinks, who with his business partner Bruce Cohen are among the movie's producers.