Q620 Transcript

Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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(Note: This tape was one of the 53 tapes initially withheld from public disclosure.)

Part 1

Other end: (stammers) I might talk to Jean about that, too, because uh— she uh, she had said something or other, I go— I couldn’t follow up on that—

Temple end: Mmm-hmm.

Other end: (unintelligible under interruption) would you have any sort of a mailing list, like, I’d be interested.

Temple end: All right.

Other end: Okay.

Temple end: Okay, I’m sure that we could work something out, that— that would certainly be uh, in order, I would feel, you know.

Other end: You know, I, I— I don’t mean, as I say, anything that will— will put anyone to any bother, but just once in a while, I’d like to— (unintelligible under interruption)

Temple end: Well, that’s— that’s good of you to be interested. Uh-huh. That’s good of you to be interested.

Other end: Okay.

Temple end: All right, sir. All right.

Other end: Thanks a lot.

Temple end: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate uh, your thoughts, you know, and your uh, (Pause) uh, the call that you made.

Other end: Oh, well, (unintelligible phrase), the thing has been on my mind, uh, the whole— the whole experience, it, it, uh, it— it’s been very important to me. So I— I really uh, (Laughs) I’m the one— I’m the one that wants to thank you. (Laughs)

Temple end: Well, (unintelligible word)

Other end: So, anyway, what— I appreciate all your help very much.

Temple end: It’s a mutual feeling, Mr. (unintelligible name)

Other end: Right. Take care.

Temple end: Thanks a lot.

Other end: Bye-bye.

Temple end: Bye-bye.

(Balance of side one blank)


Side 2

Part 2

Temple member: (unintelligible intro) uh, you’d be deserving of more than a lot of doctors I’ve seen. (Laughs)

Albert Kahn: Well, I’d— I— I only got a Master’s degree, I didn’t— I didn’t get (unintelligible word) go to get a doctor’s degree.

Temple member: Well, I think uh—

Kahn: But, I’m sorry, you were going to ask a question.

Temple member: Yeah. In your experience— is that you seem to be uh, uh, have made a stand, you know, in the past, um, (Pause) for, you know, things that uh, have probably brought you some form of persecution.

Kahn: Well, they, uh, uh, I, I uh, I do have a file among my resource materials, a file of death threats (laughs) that I keep. Uh, the government did uh, at one point take away my passport for ten years. It was at the time they went after Dr. [W.E.B.] Dubois and Paul Robeson and myself, and they did give me a prison sentence, uh, uh, for some things that I uh, was publishing, although they couldn’t make it stick, uh, I— I had gotten one of McCarthy’s assistants to confess, and uh, (stammers over words), and when I was about to publish his confession, they tried to put me in jail. It was during the [Joseph] McCarthy period. But uh— yeah, I’ve had my, my share of it, but uh— (Pause) uh, it— it uh— (Pause) Well, it— I— and— and of course, when I was working as— an orig— when I was much younger, when I was investigating uh, uh, Nazi espionage and so on in— in America, in writing about that, uh, they were— they had their own— they had a special uh— a special group uh, of— of— of— of individuals here who were— who were German agents, Nazi agents who just specia— they’re specialized in uh, terrorism and sabotage, espionage and— and killing, uh, actually uh, I mean uh, uh, they— they studied it. They— they had a school in Berlin, (short laugh) where they studied techniques and uh, uh, I did expose a number of them, they were arrested ultimately during the war, uh, and— and they periodically threaten me and uh, uh, various things of that sort, but (Pause) uh, as— as a writer, a wri— sometimes in some ways, a writer has some advantages uh— the— I have been in situations where uh, what I knew of the one thing that kept them from doing anything was that it would have made a uh, uh, (Pause) well, it’s— it’s bad— (Laughs) it’s bad business sometimes to— (Laughs) to kill a journalist or writer, because the press gets so much aroused, you see, uh, e— even if they don’t agree with you, they— they think it’s a bad thing sort of, if a writer gets killed.

Temple member: Yes, um-hmm.

Kahn: So uh, I— sometimes with gangsters and others of a— of a high— on a higher level, that— that— that I was— that I’d got to know over the uh— who— who was involved— Well, with— with Henry Ford, uh. Henry Ford had— was working very closely with uh, Mafia uh, individual, uh, like, they— they— they weren’t Mafia people, actually. But uh— and— and I’m— But uh, he used the gangsters to— to carry it to— when they were trying— when the workers were trying to organize the Ford plant, he would have various of the— of the leaders of the trade unions killed, literally, assassinated by these uh, these uh, professional killers. And I got to know some of them personally. Uh— They never threatened me or anything, although they did kill uh, (stumbles over words) in one case that was certain and in another case that was probable, uh, two individuals who were working with me. Uh— But I um— (Pause) Uh— I— I don’t— I— I— In recent years, this hasn’t— I haven’t (unintelligible word) much, so I didn’t— you know, it didn’t— I didn’t think much about it then, uh— I uh— I did not feel of course a— a terrible responsibility about what happened to those two individuals— The— They— They— One the— It was a matter of carelessness, it wasn’t anything that I was responsible for, uh, one who would— who was giving me various materials, is a very fine fellow in Detroit, uh, on the Ford situation, just did some very foolish things (unintelligible word) uh, that I didn’t know anything about, very careless things, and— and— and— and they simply eliminated him. Uh, but I’ve been always very conscious of uh— None of this in connection with myself, but uh— (stumbles over words) the way in which individuals who achieve the prominence and have a mass following, uh, like Jim Jones has, the way in which they are potential targets for uh, for very ruthless forces, and— And this is the nut of my— I— I— I’ve written about it, and worked on the thing for so long, you know, that it— it’s not— it’s a matter of— that I just come to take for granted. It— It’s uh, uh— it’s part of— of the uh, of the ugliness of— (laughs) of the world in which we’re living. Uh, but it’s part of reality, and— and during recent years, of course, uh, we’ve seen so many instances of it, uh, right here now at home, aside from what we know the CIA has been doing throughout the world in eliminating individuals who they thought had leadership, and the Nazis uh, made a, a very systematic practice of this before the war. They simply uh, tracked down and eliminated as many uh, leaders of anti-fascist movements, for example, as they could. The CIA has done the same thing in the postwar period, uh, like Lumumba [assassinated Premier of the Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba] and others. So it— it’s something that I’ve written about and thought about a good deal uh— and— and uh, you know, when I see a man like that, I think well, he— it’s just— it’s very important that— because very frequently, individuals like Jim Jones are careless of themselves. Uh, they think so much about other people, they— they don’t think— it’s like you say, isn’t it, I— you speak about the eating, uh, I’m quite sure that it also would pertain probably to a man’s health, uh— I uh—

Temple member: Oh yes.

Kahn: —got to know [United Farm Workers leader] Cesar Chavez, uh, quite well in recent years, uh, I always noticed he— he uh, he never took care of himself in the way he should have. Uh— be— I— I don’t—

Temple member: We have to constantly uh, remind him to take, you know, things that he needs and uh, it’s just that he doesn’t— he doesn’t want to take the time, you know, to think about himself, is all— it’s—

Kahn: Yeah. Yeah. Well, anyway, I— I— I— I don’t— I mean, you know— you know how valuable he is, so I— I don’t— I certainly don’t need to stress that.

Temple member: Well, I appreciate your— your saying, in your own words, though, you know, because uh, uh, we have learned to uh, you know— we don’t— we don’t show our appreciation enough, surely I’m sure, but uh, to— to know that we—

Kahn: Well, I think that you do. I think you feel it very strongly. Everything I saw, uh, indicated to me, uh, the expression of the love that uh— that people had for him, and everything I heard, uh— and I— I think it’s— I— I really think you feel it all very deeply, uh— The— Sometimes— The one thing that sometimes happens is that we who believe in the goodness of men, of mankind in general, sometimes underestimate the evil in other men—

Temple member: Mmm. Umm-hmm.

Kahn: Uh— uh— who are willing to go to any ends, you know, to— to maintain their power and (stumbles over words) and who are so corrupt, they— it— and it’s— it— and if they’re willing, as we saw the Nazis were, uh, and as we know the Ku Kluxers and similar elements are in this country, if they’re willing to— to do what the Nazis did, you know, to massacre millions of people, they have— you see, they have no respect for human life, and uh— and they— and— and they’re— they’re not stupid, uh, that is, the ones who— the most powerful ones, they— they are cunning, uh, you know, they have a (unintelligible word, could be "bestial") sort of cunning, and uh, and— and they ha— we have— we have to be conscious, I feel, all the time of uh, of how ruthless they are. That’s all. And— and— and— and it is part of our work, uh— part of your work, uh, I don’t— I— I don’t speak now of Jim Jones, but part of uh, of your work as an individual and the members of your movement, I feel, you know, to— to understand how dangerous they are uh, how ruthless they are. And where he may be careless with himself, to make absolutely sure that this man is uh— is properly protected, uh, at all times that— I uh, (Pause) I— You know, I— I just feel— felt this very, very strongly uh, after seeing what I saw, uh, I felt that this was something that was very important for everyone who’s— who works with him, uh, who— who you know, is— who— who has come to understand what he stands for, and who follows what he believes, I feel that everyone should be very, very conscious of the need to— to— to guard this man.

Temple member: Uh-huh.

Kahn: And I— I— And I— And I knew you wouldn’t think (laughs) that I was uh, presumptuous in— in uh, expressing this viewpoint—

Temple member: Oh, certainly not. Most certainly not—

Kahn: —be— because I— I’m sure that— I mean— I, I mean— after all, you’re— you are thoughtful people and uh— and you are aware of— of what has happened, and— and uh— and— and— and so you must— you know, I— I know you realize (stumbles over words) similarly that uh, that there are people who uh, who would consider him to be an enemy, and— (stumbles over words) and some of them are people who, you know, don’t hesitate to use any means—

Temple member: Oh, we’ve had certain hate— hatemongers in the past try things, you know, and uh— I mean, what you’re— what you’re speaking about, you’re speaking about something that’s even a greater magnitude uh, uh, more professional, you mean, something like that, that would be— Do you see an— an element, in other words, that uh, is very capable, and— and are ready to do that at any time?

Kahn: Yep.

Temple member: Umm-hmm.

Kahn: Yeah, ye— and they breed them, you see, I— I mean, they’re— there are such— they have spread such corruption in this society, uh, that uh, they have created all sorts of— of people who are sick and distorted, who are demented, who— who don’t— (stumbles over words) I mean, they don’t go around doing— wha— When we moved in here, (stumbles over words) as I mentioned, over in the Valley of the Moon, whe— when we moved— came up from the East about 18, 19 years ago, and no— and no one knew uh— You know, people in this country do not read a great deal. In Europe, or in the Soviet Union, and places like that— for example, in the Soviet Union, some of my books are— are used as textbooks in the schools from one end of the Soviet Union to the other (Laughs), uh, but in this country, even when I write a bestseller, uh, the number of people who— who’ve read it, (stumbles over words) it— it’s remarkable how few people uh, uh, read uh, books in America, uh— I— When I— I— It’s very rare that I meet anyone in Russia or Poland or any of those countries who— And it doesn’t matter. It can be a man who is carrying, you know, bags into the hotel or a boy— a young man who is cleaning shoes or a taxicab driver, a woman who cleans the room, uh, a waitress, uh— I— I very rarely meet anyone there who hasn’t read something of mine. Well, uh, when I first came here and settled here, the people in the community uh, heard I was a writer. That doesn’t mean anything to them. They thought— (stumbles over words) They’d know— They didn’t know what I had written, exactly, and— and I— perhaps some of them knew my books had been bestsellers during the anti-fascist period, and uh, and so on and uh, during the war and— and some of them still are, but they didn’t know what I stood for or what I believed. Uh, then I was called down before one of the— I made a number of appearances before the various Senate committees, they were always trying to get me for one thing or another, and I got called down after I’d been here maybe six months or a year, and uh, my boys were very young then — I’ve got three sons — and my wife is not a woman who (unintelligible phrase under laugh) she’s gone to— through too many things, so she’s not a woman who gets nervous about anything anyway, but I was in uh— After I had go— gone before this committee, I went to New York to have a— a discussion about a new book with my publisher, and the news of my appearance before the committee, and the accusations — which were lies — that were made against me, had gotten back into the newspapers here, and one night, my wife called me up and it turned out there was a gang here and they were coming to burn— to rock out the house, they call ‘em, and actually to burn it down, but she never would’ve— she’s not the sort of person that would call me because of nervousness, uh, she was very cool, calm about it, but she said, I think you better cancel your conferences with the publisher and fly home. And I got home— I got home in time uh, to get things under control, and to set up in the commune— and it was a very interesting experience in the end, uh, but uh, the— they uh— you know, it’s— it’s ignorant. The people who were doing it — and I got to know, and— and became friends with some of the people who were in that vigilante gang later on, I mean I’d go fishing with them, I— I could— My— My boys were very little then, they had— they were, you know, six, seven, eight years old, they couldn’t have done anything to— to protect my wife, uh— A couple of very, very, uh, good conservative uh, church-going citizens who’d heard this thing was underway had come to the house. One of them was staying here all night to— in case anything had happened that night, that particular night. And— But when I got back, I— I’d found out that among many of these people, it was a matter of pure ignorance, and I got to know some of them, uh, but I did find out also the— the ones who had instigated the thing— and they were well-to-do, uh, there were two or three of them, uh, well-to-do former Army men uh, who live in the hills here, have big estates, are retired, and who maintain contact with the intelligence operations in uh, in Washington. One of them has been an adviser to the Secret Service of [Republic of China President] Chiang Kai-shek. And they had organized, they had— uh, without getting their own— they— they like to keep their own hands quote clean. So they just passed the word down to these people who were ignorant and so on and so forth, that I was a dangerous uh, uh, uh, a foreign spy or something, you know, (Laughs) a communist agent of the Kremlin or something, and— and these people who were— it was like— I don’t think actually they— it was not, really, in that— they were not an organized hate group, but there were enough of them who were ignorant who could be mobilized by one guy who was a member of the Birch Soci— well, he’s a leader of the [John] Birch Society (unintelligible word), uh, and he was in the National Guard and so on, and— and he got this group together. It— it— in the end, as I say, I managed to squash the thing, but they— the— they have plenty of people around who are so uh, uninformed and so ready to hate because— you know, sometimes because they themselves are poor and suffering (unintelligible word under interruption)—

Temple member: Hmm. Surprising, isn’t it.

Kahn: You know?

Temple member: Umm-hmm.

Kahn: They want to blame— They feel they have to blame someone, they don’t know who to blame. So it’s easy to direct their hatred— You take in the South, uh, where I spend quite a bit of time now, I meet very poor white people who are living as no one should have to live, uh, and who— who just hate the poor black people in a way that’s unbelievable, and they’re taught to do this, because that keeps them divided. If they ever became united, and understood they have the same problems, and the same enemy—

Temple member: Yes—

Kahn: —uh, then— (laughs) then they’d represent a menace, so they’re deliberately kept divided, and these hate groups are deliberately cultivated. So these hate groups are something that would be directed against a movement uh, such as yours, uh— But anyway, uh, I uh— As I say, the thing is that I felt— I felt the value of this man so much that I did want to speak with someone like— (Stumbles over words) not only wanted to thank you for— for your— for your help but uh, but also speak to you about that angle. I— I had a feeling if I said anything (laughs) to Jim Jones, he’d probably be just as careless about himself as he ever was before.

Temple member: (Laughs)

Kahn: But uh— uh— (stumbles over words) I will be writing him about a couple of other things, ‘cause I want to thank him very much for the experience, and uh—

Temple member: Well, that would be very sweet of you. I’m sure that he’d be— really be glad to hear from you.

Kahn: Well, I’ll— I’ll— I’ll— I’ll be getting off a letter to him in a day or so.

Temple member: Well, that’d be so good. I— I— I don’t know, I uh— I think all of us were touched by your uh, humbleness and your uh, depth of feeling that you have, and uh, not— you’re not alone. Your knowledge and experience, you know, the things you’ve been through and um, feeling for people, and so is our pastor. Very— Very touched, as you saw him, very touched. So—

Kahn: Well, you know, it’s a mutual uh— I— I’m very— I’m very gratified to hear that. I— I must say that, for me, it’s— To— to have this sort of experience is uh, is something that is immensely rewarding because uh, uh, he spoke about loneliness, and uh, I don’t feel lonely in a way, because I’d— I— when I write, I fe— I am writing to many people across the world who speak with— On the other hand, a writer’s life is lonely. You sit in a room, and when you’re working on a book— it’s very difficult for me to write and— and uh, I may work two or three years on a book, and— when I’m going out and getting the material, I’m meeting many people and so on and so forth, and I do some— and I am a member of the World Peace Council, so I’m traveling and organized— organizing in that way, but when you’re actually writing the book, you are alone, and for hours and hours and hours, days and days, and— and months and months, and uh, the opportunity of coming in contact with people like yourselves is uh, tremendously uh, helpful and inspiring to me, it’s a source of sustenance, of food, I— Literally, I— I mean— And— and— and when I go under the uh— this— when I go down South and meet a man uh, such as the one I spoke about, uh, in that prison, uh, and I meet many like that who are so noble, wonderful persons, I uh— and to— to know about them and to be with them, you see, is— Without that contact, uh, I uh— my work would be uh, impos— impossible for me to write uh, because they give me— Whatever strength I have uh, comes from them, and I— I learn— I mean, I— I’ve learned a great deal from, from being with, with your people and uh, so uh, you know, and I— I (stumbles over words) I was very sorry my sons were not there. I’m going to arrange for— for them to uh, come to some of your other meetings.

Temple member: Oh, that’s kind of you.

Kahn: I have two of them in the uh— Well, it would be very, very good for them, I’m thinking of their welfare, uh, uh, there are two of them who live in— in— in the West here. They’re in their late twenties, early thirties now, uh—

Temple member: I think we’d be pleased to meet them, I’m su— sure—

Kahn: Yeah, oh, they’re fine guys. And it— one of them— One of them, by the way, is— has been in prison a number of times, he was uh, uh, all— but all of his sentences were for uh, participating in demonstrations against discrimination.

Temple member: Hmm.

Kahn: Uh, they were all— Dur— During the per— when he was trying— they were trying to get equal employment for blacks and uh, and— and— and other minority groups, uh, uh, and he was in peace demonstrations and so on and then— and— and I— and he was re— you know, a number of times, uh, put in jail for this sort of thing. Uh, he’s a fine fellow. And uh, the uh— but uh— they— it would be very, very good for them to see uh, your people and to be among them, so I— I’m— I’ve already told uh, told ‘em about what a wonderful experience— Ria, my wife, has too. But I’ve taken up about half of your morning, now, so— (Laughs)

Temple member: Well, it’s a plea— it’s a pleasure talking to you, Mr. Kahn, I—

Kahn: Well, I— I really want— I really want to uh, uh, thank you again for— for your thoughtfulness uh— uh—

Temple member: Well, again, I must say, that it was uh, my pastor, it was Jim Jones that uh, thought and asked me to go down quickly to see that you had uh, pillows to rest on, to be comfortable and as I— anything that you needed uh, he said, be sure that it’s taken care of immediately. So—

Kahn: Well, it— he— he’s an extraordinary man. Wonderfully, wonderfully thoughtful. (Word unintelligible under interruption)

Temple member: He—

Kahn: I mean, you— you’re very fortunate to be involved in— in such work and—

Temple member: Yes—

Kahn: And I feel from our brief acquaintanceship, he’s— he’s fortunate to have you with him.

Temple member: Well, I don’t know, I— I— I know that uh, (laughs) it would be a very, very dismal life without him. I know that.

Kahn: Well, you see, you find— what has— what has happened, really, is, if I could sum it up— (unintelligible phrase) when I was talking to students here uh, at uh, Sonoma State just a month ago, and— and— and what I said was you have— a man has to find a purpose in his life, uh, and you’ve found it. But— and if you don’t find a purpose in your life, then it’s gone. I— I— You know, and life is a very, very precious thing, (stumbles over words) and what you have is the richest possession that anyone could have. And— and that’s the purpose that you have.

Temple member: Yes, indeed.

Kahn: (unintelligible word under interruption) And— and— and as you say, he’s the one who is— who has helped you find it.

Temple member: Yes, that’s true. And so many others, you know—

Kahn: Right. Right, right. Well—

Temple member: And it seems like he never runs out of time to uh, to talk with people, you know, he— he never turns anyone away, and uh, he’s never to busy to meet a human need, you know, how— how very minute it might seem. He’s very much interested in feeling— has a depth of feeling for people, you know, and their feelings.

Kahn: Yes.

Temple member: All the time.

Kahn: Well, it— he’s a— he— he’s a— he is a really most unique.

Temple member: I sure—

Kahn: Anyway, I— I uh— It was— It was good to hear your voice again, and— and we’ll be in touch, because uh, I— I uh— having— having now found uh, your movement and what it is, I— I shall not wonder who’s the contact for them.

Temple member: Well, I can’t say, you know, how much I appreciate you calling and your concern for our pastor’s welfare. It was very well received. I— I’ll pass it on, and I appre—

Kahn: Very good. Ah, very good—

Temple member: —precitate your calling, and do keep in touch.

Kahn: (unintelligible under Temple member) You take care of yourself, too.

Temple member: I will, sir.

Kahn: Okay?

Temple member: You do the same, will you?

Kahn: Right. You bet.

Temple member: Thank you so much.

Kahn: Bye-bye. Right. Bye-bye.

Temple member: Bye-bye.

End of tape

Tape originally posted September 2003