Yesterday, on another grim anniversary of the one of the worst mass murders in American history, they paid homage to the monster behind it.
This crazed sociopath, now memorialized in stone by the newly reconstituted People's Temple, who paid their respects to the dead in their own "informal gathering" yesterday afternoon in Oakland's Evergreen Cemetery. James Warren Jones, killer of children, honored.
These children, imprisoned by him in a South American Marxist death camp, and more than 300 other children, including babies, didn't stand a chance.
Murderous Jim is not the only killer mixed in with the names of his victims, as I discovered in my visit to this perverse new shrine [in the background is the original memorial] earlier this year. Indeed there are some very notable culprits whose names will be familiar to anyone versed in the usually obscured facts of this unspeakable crime.
Some of the other of the infamous cult's murderous enforcers include:
Annie Moore, sister of Becky Moore. Becky runs the cult apologist organization "Jonestown Institute" with her hubby Fielding "Big Mac" McGehee, both of whom served as the front group to fund this memorial with cash from an "unknown source.") Annie, mass murderer.
"Big Jim" McElvane, the cult's "security enforcer," something of a gestapo kingpin. Yes, mass murderer too.
And, of course, what memorial would be complete without this beast, one of Jones's most fanatical cultists. Not a mass murderer, since she was in Guyana's capital city of Georgetown when all the slaughter was unleashed in the jungle. She was, however, enterprising enough to personally slit the throats of her three children before killing herself. Which makes her death a bona fide suicide rather than a murder like nearly all the others in Jonestown. She still has some murder credits, like the other vicious psychopaths shown above.
There are, of course, some other names here that have NO business being memorialized, such as the guards that forced the cyanide into hundreds of people or shot them to death. Becky and Big Mac know who they are but, hey, these homicidal gulag goons earned the requisite murder points to be featured as well.
Becky Moore is one of the more prominent cult apologists in circulation, publishing tripe about how "positive" the People's Temple cult really was and that, really, "cult" is dirty word that insults all the wonderful things that came from this group of brainwashed slaves.
"Big Mac" McGehee is her very prolific propaganda hubby, who puts out the annual "Jonestown Report." To his credit, he includes some of the unsavory aspects of the forced labor camp called Jonestown in his publication. The only problem is its resemblance with the formula used by supermarket tabloids, but on a much more serious scale. Nothing quite so effective as a potent mix of fact and fiction grossly distorting perspective on the actual big picture. Just gloss over, obfuscate or outright deny the reality of cult psychosocial dynamics so lethal to free will and, in some cases, life itself.
And Becky-Mac wants it that way, cause this enterprising fun couple crave that credibility enabling them to keep the New People's Temple cult followers happy and positive there really were some mighty good things that flowed from all the brainwashing, fraud, slave labor, torture, child abuse, and murder that were the hallmarks of the cult that died.
Jynona Norwood [second from right], who lost 27 of her family to Jones and his executioners, has tried desperately to stop this madness. She worked to put up Jones-free memorial for years. That some of the people that put Jones into power--Willie Brown, Cecil Williams, to name a few-- haven't contributed a dime to Norwood's efforts speaks volumes on their moral bankruptcy--and cowardice. They prefer not to remember those faces of the helpless little children having cyanide forced down their throats, knowing they helped make it all possible.
Beyond lamentable is actually reading some of the twisted statements made by cult apologists in the Mac-Becky Cult Fans journal. One of them, by Natalia Danesi, observes:
"Evergreen Cemetery now has the four granite blocks engraved with all the victims' names, including that of Jim Jones. Despite the controversy, Jim Jones was among those who died that day, and it is proper and appropriate to remember the names of everyone who perished. Another controversial figure is Linda Sharon Amos, who killed her three children before killing herself......seeing her name on the memorial must be unthinkable......While her final act is truly horrible, we must try to understand her position and point of view. Her name on the memorial should make us pause and reflect...."
Pause and reflect? Surely. Unthinkable? Most definitely.