Search This Blog


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guyana Finally Finds The Time "Ripe" To Officially Recognize People's Temple Cult Mass Murder Victims

It was over before anyone knew it. And long, long overdue.

The unannounced ceremony this past November 18th was as simple as the white stone plaque they erected at the Guyanese jungle clearing.

It's taken far too long for Guyana's government to officially recognize the Crime of the Century that took place in their impoverished nation more than three decades ago. The stigma, however, seems to have finally lifted with the passing of enough years.

"We think the time is now ripe for some sort of memorial to remember those who died as 31 years have passed and the wound is not so raw," said Indranauth Haralsingh, the director of the Guyana Tourism Authority. "There should be something to remember them as people do come."

"In memory of the victims of the Jonestown tragedy, November 18, 1978, Jonestown, Guyana"

That's the memorial's sole inscription, just as it reads on Oakland's Evergreen Cemetery tombstone (with the added words "Guyana Emergency Relief Committee") where over 400 Jonestown victims are buried.

Since the 30th anniversary of the massacre, the Evergreen site now has an emerging memorial wall of names of all the dead, save one, mass murderer Jim Jones--which has been some of the surviving relatives' vocal point for controversy.

"I hope," said U.S. Embassy charge d'affairs Karen Williams, who helped unveil the Guyana's Jonestown Memorial, "that this simple and very reverent service today and monument will serve to help heal those wounds in both of our nations."


Interesting perspective, Madam Charge D'affairs.

Far more ethical and forthright would have been to come clean with her employer's disgraceful derelection of duty in the lead-up to the clearly avoidable massacre that cost over 900 lives, including Rep. Leo Ryan, the only congressman in history to die--senselessly--in the line of duty.

Ryan had had five, count 'em, five briefings provided by that useless and duplicitious State Department prior to this extremely dangerous rescue mission, which not one single other member of Congress had the guts to accompany. With all the testimony about people in the Guyana Gulag being held prisoner, being tortured, and threatened with murder, Ryan requested that some critically needed straight answers be provided by those bumbling bureaucrats.

"Nonsense." That was what that oh-so conscientious, competent State Department told the doomed congressman regarding the peril he was about to enter.

And nothing more.

They deliberately sat on the critical information that would have saved Ryan, his delegation, and surely the rest of the Jonestown cult captives.

So as with the journalists, clergy, and American & Guyanese politicians in the Cast Of Shameless Wonders that enabled Jim Jones and his cult mafia to run amok, our U.S. Dept. of State also has plenty of blood on its hands.

And like their reprehensible cohorts, it's a sure bet that "State" will never, ever owe up to its appalling guilt. Thank you, Ms. Williams, for clarifying that for all of us.

Staboek News, an independent Guyanese newspaper, published this observation by one of the country's political parties on the day their memorial was erected:

"The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) says while the public continues to be baffled by the events that led to the Jonestown disaster, it was important to note that the tragedy could have been avoided if not for political interference in the judicial process....

....The WPA said while questions continue to arise about the purpose of the Temple, what is clear is that Jim Jones and his group were allowed to establish a settlement by the PNC [People's National Congress] government in Guyana’s interior and there was little governmental oversight of the operations of that organisations. It is also clear that the Temple 'had acquired considerable influence among certain political officials in the then government who among other things, attempted to influence the course of justice.'

The WPA said the action by then minister of home affairs Vibert Mingo to get Justice Aubrey Bishop [pictured here] to reverse his decision that Jones 'must appear and give evidence in the Baby Stoen case' that had been engaging his attention, is just one example. Jones ignored the judge’s order, the WPA said, adding that perhaps the outcome at Jonestown might have been different if Justice Bishop’s order had been heeded...."

Albert Einstein once wrote that the world is a dangerous place "not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”

Sound social insight from a legendary scientist. It perfectly compliments the other plague: People that knowingly aid and abet evil in its most heinous forms.

On the 25th anniversary of the massacre, Guyanese pilot Capt. Gerry Gouveia made a crude but very reality show-like series of videos of his and a small group's journey into what remains of Jonestown. He might very well be the Guyanese reality show star, considering what he personally witnessed in 1978 and later found in this intriguing look at a notorious killing field that today is devoured by merciless jungle.

The Guyana Tourism Authority, despite the government's new memorial, continues to refuse the proposal to develop the place as a tourism attraction. Perhaps it might come in future years, if the country gets cash-strapped enough.

Let's just pray that they make very, very sure that the cult apologists don't get their paws on the plans should the project ever come to fruition.

Think of the possibilities, and then help yourself to a nice long shudder.

Stanley Nelson's stomach-churning apologist film would look positively honest by comparison.

It would bring new meaning to historic fiction and revisionism. Think of the fantasy & fairy tales that would make up a visitor's center sponsored by the Jonestown Institute.

And instead of a watching it on DVD or reading about it in one of Becky Moore's Temple Tall Tales books--the latest which I'm going to review very soon--you could pay homage to all the "good works" of the cult "pioneers" that blazed a path shimmering with fraud, extortion, slave labor, and child torture.

Better scenario: Let it be administered by genuine historians. And by authentic survivor testimony.

Allow bona fide facts, not embellishments and half-truths, to tell the real story.

Jonestown, like any of the world's other resurrected gulags, should be revealed to tourists in all its true horrifying colors.

"Conditions at Jonestown were even worse than I had feared they would be. The settlement was swarming with armed guards. No one was permitted to leave unless on a special assignment and these assignments were given only to the most trusted. We were allowed to associate with Guyanese people only while on a "mission".

The vast majority of the Temple members were required to work in the fields from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. six days per week and on Sunday from 7 A.M. to 2 P.M. We were allowed one hour for lunch. Most of this hour was spent walking back to lunch and standing in line for our food. Taking any other breaks during the workday was severely frowned upon.

The food was woefully inadequate. There was rice for breakfast, rice water soup for lunch, and rice and beans for dinner. On Sunday, we each received an egg and a cookie. Two or three times a week we had vegetables. Some very weak and elderly members received one egg per day. However, the food did improve markedly on the few occasions when there were outside visitors.

In contrast, Rev. Jones, claiming problems with his blood sugar, dined separately and ate meat regularly. He had his own refrigerator which was stocked with food. The two women with whom he resided, Maria Katsaris and Carolyn Layton, and the two small boys who lived with him, Kimo Prokes and John Stoen, dined with the membership. However, they were in much better physical shape than everyone else since they were also allowed to eat the food in Rev. Jones' refrigerator...."
--Debra Layton Blakely

No doubt that our Alternative Considerations of Jonestown apologists can put a mind-controlling spin on this "utopian community," as they've proven repeatedly in the popular media.

Let's just say no to them this time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Saddest Portrait Of Today's Jonestown Massacre Anniversary

Today, these babies would have likely had families of their own.

Of all the victims, they were the most senseless and heart-wrenching.

The perpetrator list runs long and wide, as does the continuing coverup. As we mourn the dead today, a short film reminds us of one part of the coverup that continues.

More on this today.

Prayers go out to the relatives of those killed by this Marxist Monster and his executioners 31 years ago.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Continuing Rancor Over Jim Jones & Memorial: "He is not--and never was--a victim!"

This scene look familiar?

Happened in Texas, courtesy of a cult maniac swaggering in the footsteps of another megalomaniac who hosted his own holocaust 15 years earlier in a Guyanese jungle.

A memorial for the victims of the 1993 Waco Massacre was established by Branch Davidian survivors two years later on the privately-owned Mount Carmel property. It was a layout of crape myrtle trees, which later had headstones representing victims placed at the base of each tree.

Amazingly, one of those headstones--until it was rightfully destroyed by the property owner in 2006--was dedicated to a murderous, crazed sexual predator.

As controversial as was the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound, it's outrageous watching muddle-headed wonders award victim hood status to ruthless, sadistic monsters like David Koresh.

Koresh's crime spree, however, was something of a virtual misdemeanor next to the unspeakable horrors inflicted by Jim "Dad" Jones and his People's Temple Mafia. So why, once again, are people stepping up to actually honor another raging psychopath as a "victim"??

One of those is a group of family survivors lead by Lela Howard (whose aunt died in Jonestown) that tried but failed to erect their own memorial that included Jones in San Francisco's African American Cultural Center, thanks to protests by other survivors.

One of the protesting survivors, "Rhonda" (who's requested anonymity), told the Apologists Alert:

"It was insulting, illogical, and outright disrespectful of Black Americans. Jewish people have never proclaimed Hitler as a victim, nor has his name been placed on a memorial wall erected for those he ordered murdered.

Ms. Howard was never a member [of the cult] and she should have conferred with others prior to making her decisions to be disrespectful. Instead she selected to speak with Jones's sons and other white members who were part of the hierarchy. My suggestion is that Ms. Howard maintain her memorial in Los Angeles so that she can frequently visit a site locally for remembrance. Don't smear our faces in it or bring this back to San Francisco."

The late cult leader's adopted son, Jim Jones, Jr., is clear about his place in the revisionist camp, alleging that "the tragedy is we're villainizing Jim Jones," who he claims "was also a victim, of his own madness. We need to memorialize all the bodies, as a great loss."

It's obvious that Rhonda appreciates the Jones, Jr. perspective about as much as she does Howard's. We get the feeling she's equally unenthused over our favorite cult apologist film maker, Stanley Nelson.

"I am tired of those who continue to surface as self-appointed spokespersons for black victims of People's Temple," she says, "I'm tired of the ignorance, lies, and misstatements of Jimmy Jones, Jr., an embarrassment to every intelligent black person in the world.

Jim Jones, Jr. makes ridiculous statements about what a great man his dad was. We must remember that his dad killed his wife and their unborn child in Jonestown. He goes on speaking engagements for pay and has used the death of others as a major source of income.

My question: Why would you continue to bear the name of a murderer? This is sick, just as disgustingly sick as his adopted dad.

I think of the Lela Howards and Stanley Nelsons as the “Aunt Janes” and “Uncle Toms” of the world....Their mission is an attempt to portray Jim Jones as a "victim". They attempt unconvincing arguments that Jim Jones’ name should appear on a wall with the true victims’ names. He is not--and never was--a victim!"

Rhonda voices much support for Dr. Jynona Norwood's work in getting the Jonestown Memorial Wall erected, calling her "a faithful and humble servant trying to give the lost souls their own identity, a name, and dignity. However, she meets constant roadblocks."

Obviously one of the biggest challenges has been raising funds for the wall. It's time to petition former Jones allies such as Willie Brown and Cecil Williams to cough up a substantial chunk of the expense. After all, they're part of that California political rabble with blood on their hands from November 18, 1978.

Let Brown, Williams, and the rest of those self-serving elites make their financial amends next Wednesday at Oakland's Evergreen Cemetery, right after they've publicly apologized to the grieving relatives of every one of the real victims of their Prized Marxist Missionary.

I'm sure they'll have an undoubtedly receptive audience, judging from last year's memorial service:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jonestown Massacre Memorial Wall: "Something is Wrong!"

Another anniversary of that senseless, horrific day of slaughter is crawling towards us again.

Last year's 30th Remembrance at Oakland's Evergreen Cemetery saw the unveiling of two black granite panels of what was promised to eventually be a 36 foot-long stone wall with the names of all the victims. A year has passed and the question remains:

Where are rest of the panels?

What's more, will they show all the names?

Can you just imagine having those Jonestown assassins carved in granite right next to the men, women, children, and babies they brutally murdered??

Would you like to see names like Sharon Amos, the bestial Temple executioner that slit the throats of her two young children? Or any of the monstrous guards and Temple inner circle, such as Carolyn and Annie Moore, who personally orchestrated the cyanide mass murder of their "suicide" targets?

There are still some voices of furious discord amongst the relatives of the Jonestown victims, who continue to question the management of the memorial wall construction, currently overseen by Jynona Norwood, a Los Angeles evangelist who lost 27 family members in the Guyana bloodbath.

Less than a month after last year's memorial, an anonymous reader "Confused and Getting Upset" wrote to the Apologists Alert:

"How are the marble panels going to be secured at the Oakland cemetery? It was brought out on a tracker, so the weight must be over a ton. It was beautiful, but left me thinking: How the ground is going to handle the weight? Also, I have donated money to that fund and after 27 years of collecting money, why is $70,000 more still needed to complete the wall?

There is a website called 'The Miracle Wall.' On the site, Jynona Norwood claims to be a "prophet" and predicted Jonestown (if so, why didn't she do something about it?), the Iraqi war and Princess Diana's death....

I am starting to feel uncomfortable about this.

The original focus is being lost and celebrity is sought. Jones said he was a 'healer' and 'prophet.' Now Norwood is claiming to be the same charlatan, who passes around a collection bucket after the ceremony at the cemetery? I was literally sickened and walked away.

The wall in Oakland is designed to include the names of known killers?


They killed! They killed! They killed! Their names should not be on the wall!

I am outraged! It is not right! Their names next to they those killed?!
How can this be stopped? I don't want my money used for this.
I think you or your dad need to really look into this!

Something is wrong!"

Last November, this blog reported the brewing controversy. Norwood demanded that only the most notorious name should be left off the wall, while some of her other detractors insisted that all, killers and victims alike, be featured. The excerpt:

"Jones was not a victim," said Norwood, "To me, that's like putting Hitler's name on a memorial to the Holocaust."

It's clear, however, that her sentiment is not shared by all the relatives and survivors, including Lela Howard, who lost an aunt in Jonestown and had contacted the Apologist Alert late last year. She has publicly questioned Norwood's accounting of memorial funds (See "Division and Controversy Roils Construction of Jonestown Memorial," January 4, 2008 post.)

But that's not all. Howard's rival group of survivors unveiled their own memorial plaque at the ceremony, bearing all the names of the dead, including a vicious sociopath named James Warren Jones. They've arranged to have the plaque displayed at San Francisco's African American Historical and Cultural Society.

Norwood said she intends to inscribe the names of the Temple assassins that murdered Congressman Leo Ryan, three journalists, a defector, and shot 11 others (including Ryan's aide, Jackie Speier, who now holds his Congressional seat) at the Port Kaituma Airstrip.

But not Jones. Not ever. "To put Jim Jones's name on that wall is an insult ... to all the dead," she said. "He was the most evil man who walked on this earth."

Not so, says the man that carries his name, who survived the bloodbath with his bothers, thanks to a basketball tournament in Guyana's capital city, Georgetown. Jim Jones, Jr. sides with the Howard faction. "The tragedy is we're villainizing Jim Jones," said the cult leader's adopted son. "Jim Jones was also a victim, of his own madness. We need to memorialize all the bodies, as a great loss."

Other victims of their own hyper pathology include a pair of notables that Father Jones in his early years studied voraciously to learn the finer techniques of sadism, power, and mind control.

His cult of personality ended up fitting like an iron glove and crushing like a charm.

Memorial, anyone?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Manson, Jones, And Koresh: MSNBC's Halloween Banquet Of Cult Horror

Some TV network execs have apparently now been bitten by the cult bug.

More than two weeks ago, long before the November anniversary marking the tragedy, CNN rebroadcast Soledad Obrien's "Escape From Jonestown".

Now, tonight on MSNBC, we're getting served a triple entree of cult crazies. From 7 to 9 p.m., the saga of those ferociously poisonous flower children is being presented in "Will You Kill For Me? Charles Manson And His Followers."

Between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., we'll see the replay of last Sunday's "Witness To Waco," detailing the horrifying end to David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult.

In 2003, ten years after the Waco holocaust, Cult Expert Rick Ross wrote an expose in his Cult News Network about one of the many cult apologists that continue making excuses for Koresh's slaughter of nearly 80 men, women, and children.

Her name is Catherine Wessinger, a professor of religious studies at Loyola University. Ross reported the following:

"It seems Wessinger can be depended upon for an apology no matter how bizarre and/or destructive the cult. Today in the Waco Tribune-Herald’s second installment of its nine part series about the Branch Davidians she once again offers her unique spin on a cult’s demise.

What does Wessinger make out of the Davidian cult tragedy?

Well, she says it was largely about 'the militarization of law enforcement and the problems … and abuse that arise from such militarization.'


Apparently this college professor doesn’t wish to acknowledge the implications of a purported 'psychopath' leading a cult group. Wessinger admits, 'I’m not trained in psychology so I don’t articulate those opinions....I’m sure he [Koresh] had some psychological issues.'

What an understatement.

Wessinger offers her usual apologetic spin. She has previously attempted to explain away cult tragedies such as Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown. Wessinger once said, 'If Jones and his community had succeeded in creating their Promised Land, they would still be here. But due to the attacks and investigations they endured, they opted for the Gnostic view that devalued this world.'

Again, no meaningful blame is placed upon the deeply disturbed cult leader and the inherent destructive dynamics of his control over the group. Apparently almost any cult and/or cult leader’s behavior may be largely excused according to Wessinger’s reasoning under the general heading of 'persecution'....

Koresh broke the law, failed to comply with a warrant, murdered federal officers and then refused to surrender for 51 days, despite the repeated pleas and guarantees of law enforcement. In the end he chose instead to kill himself and all his followers within the compound.

The cult leader’s behavior had little if anything to do with 'biblical prophecy' and his 'work' was really more about criminal violations of gun laws and sexual abuse than the 'Book of Revelation.'

However, 'apologists' like Wessinger apparently ignore such facts in favor of speculation based upon specious, but supposedly 'politically correct' views, instead of reality."

You'll see Ross interviewed in the documentary. If Wessinger shows up, we'll know there's something amiss.

Oh yes, and that leaves the hours, 9:00 to 11:00 p.m.--what notorious cult show might be sandwiched between the twin terrors of the Manson Family and the Branch Davidians?? Why, it's yet another "witnessing," like Waco, entitled "Witness To Jonestown."

Thaaaaat's right, people. The Good Reverend and his Temple of--at least, of course, til the very end--Good Works. After this program ran last year, one of my readers, "Dave," had this to say about MSNBC's distorted reporting:

"I observed all the same criminal omissions. The most glaring being the way they always present the People Temple's accommodation of old people and children as 'humanitarian' and ignore that it was the primary source of income. (California child welfare and social security checks were coming in at the rate of $65,000 per month)....."

Dave also had some rather harsh criticism of a certain religious studies professor that runs a particular "institute" all about Jonestown and the People's Temple cult. Except it's not a cult!!, sayeth Dr. Rebecca Moore, of San Diego State University.

"Moore and her ilk," charged Dave, "have reduced the label for these destructive, con-games-on-a-massive-scale to the word 'cult' and have then dismissed the word.

She should be ashamed of herself.

As a religious scholar, she needs to know that putting cults and the worship of God on the same plane diminishes religion. Period."

And here's an utterly amazing coincidence: Blue Ribbon Jonestown Apologist Becky juuuuuust so happens to be a real good buddy of our Koresh Booster, Cathy Wessinger. In fact, they both co-edit the insidious "New Religious Movements"(translation--CULTS) propaganda journal, "Novo Religio."

The lady scholars get a little help from a third flaming cult apologist named Douglas Cowan. He runs the online "Religious Movements Homepage Project," currently under renovation. Cowen is celebrated for his crafty embellishments of virtually any and all cults, no matter how ruthless or rapacious.

That's probably why Becky and Cathy have Cowan helping to co-pilot their barge, U.S.S. Apologia. In a 2004 academic paper, Cowen announced the very destructive Scientology "has an image problem."

Image problem?

Oh, yeah. That sometimes happens.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

High Politicos Continue Milking The Man That "Gave Hope" To A Doomed Cult

The Harvey Milk shrine gracing the top of San Francisco City Hall's grand staircase has an inscription from the late supervisor's famed speech claiming his election "gave young people out there hope. You gotta give 'em hope."

Hope clearly is fast gaining steam in some quarters now that this new & improved milk propaganda blitz has hit the stratosphere. Last Tuesday California Gov. Schwarzenegger followed Pres. Obama's lead in deifying the Jim Jones accomplice, with the signing into state law "Harvey Milk Day" every May 22nd. This comes on the heels of Governor Musclehead's plan to induct the Milk Man into the California Hall of Fame in December.

That next side show will follow the month after another Jonestown Massacre anniversary, which Harvey also gets a bow for being one of the preventable tragedy's most notable official facilitators.

Sure, there's some folks that continue taking issue with me here, some of them who just can't resist playing apologists for all the brazen allies of the torturers & murderers that ran the People's Temple cult. One of my readers, "Emily," wrote in earlier this year (and PLEASE do excuse me for letting some of the comments fall through the cyber cracks!) pleading compassion for the self-serving slobs, living and dead, who have Jonestown blood-stained hands.

Emily, an apparent fan of fictional bio-pics, set the record straight about the "Milk" movie:

"Come on. Even Ryan himself was initially fooled by the supposed utopian socialist paradise while he was standing within its very walls. Jones was a masterful con man and was very, very deft at appearing kind to outsiders. Even initial criticisms and reports of abuse could have been disputed as a disgruntled or intolerant agenda against what, from the outside, very easily could have appeared to be nothing more than a loving group of people committed to a self-sustaining lifestyle apart from the real world.

Yes, you and I know that was far, far from the case now, but we have history on our side. It's very easy to sit back in judgement when you know what was going to happen next.
Do you honestly think any of those people would have been complacent and done nothing if they had hard, factual evidence that there was extreme abuse that would result in everybody in Jonestown being killed? Do you think nobody feels any guilt for being a part of what ultimately enabled Jones to get away with it all?

The movie is about Harvey Milk and his activism for gay civil rights, not Harvey Milk and everybody he ever knew in his lifetime. Introducing the Jones aspect would have been an almost awkward non sequitur that couldn't have been done in a manner that would do the severity of the subject justice, unless you made the entire film about that association. It's the stuff of dense biographies, not a two-hour biopic. Simply brushing over the subject as if it were not important would have been worse than not mentioning it at all.

A lot of people were fooled by Jim Jones. I can't condemn every last one of them for not knowing the horrific fate of his followers."

Emily, it looked like it was cinch for Harvey Milk to sing the cult praises as a "loving group of people committed to a self-sustaining lifestyle apart from the real world," just as long as he (A) kept on getting their invaluable election support and (B) averted his eyes to the continuing avalanche of substantiated reports of Temple fraud, abuse, slave labor, beatings, extortion, and death drills.

Not a problem either, for other shameless wonders like Willie Brown and Cecil Williams. They cheered on Jones right up to day of the slaughter in Guyana. And the film's fantasy Adventures In Milkville? Understandable. After all, a Hollywood saint's working relationship with a mass murderers might just be very "awkward."

I hardly agree with the right-wing on anything (left-wing, for that matter, too.) But once and while they actually manage to right a flagrant wrong. The issue of the culprits that had repeat dance cards with Jim J. Frankenstein, for instance. Author Daniel Flynn wrote the following in his devastating expose, "Drinking Harvey Milk's Kool-Aid," which appeared in the online City Journal magazine last May.

Hopefully Emily and others will consider Flynn's cogent warnings

against whitewashing/mythologizing--on or off the silver screen--people that have sinned something terrible. Even those no longer with us. It's bad for future generations.

As the ol' saying goes, "Those that do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them...."

".....Milk makes a rather unremarkable subject for the silver screen," writes Flynn, "In his seven years in San Francisco, he made four bids for elective office, only emerging victorious in his last—a 1977 run for city supervisor. For his persistence, Milk jokingly referred to himself as the 'gay Harold Stassen.' He served for less than a year.

In naming the onetime camera-shop proprietor one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth century, Time conceded, 'As a supervisor, Milk sponsored only two laws—predictably, one barring anti-gay discrimination, and, less so, a law forcing dog owners to clean pets’ messes from sidewalks.' Eleven months on the city council hardly seems the stuff of Hollywood legend.

So Hollywood invented a legend.

Rather than the gentle, soft-spoken idealist portrayed by Sean Penn, the real Harvey Milk was a short-tempered demagogue who cynically invented stories of victimhood to advance his political career. During his successful run for city supervisor, for instance, Milk’s camera store was the object of a glass-shattering attack by low-grade explosives.

Milk blamed singer Anita Bryant, the outspoken opponent of gay-friendly legislation. 'Years later friends hinted broadly that Harvey had more than a little foreknowledge that the explosions would happen,' biographer Randy Shilts noted. One friend explained to Shilts: 'You gotta realize the campaign was sort of going slow, and, well...'

The stunt would hardly have been the sole instance of Milk’s employing deceit to further his standing within the victimhood cult. In the upside-down world of San Francisco politics, Milk curried favor with voters by boasting that his homosexuality had resulted in a dishonorable discharge from the Navy in the dark ages before the sexual revolution. But far from the in-your-face, ponytailed 'Mayor of Castro Street' of the 1970s, Chief Petty Officer Milk of the 1950s was a closeted homosexual whose discharge papers reflected four years of honorable service.

Milk was far more cavalier about the privacy of others than he was about his own. When Bill Sipple became a national hero for tackling gun-toting kook Sara Jane Moore before she could kill President Gerald Ford in 1975, Milk anonymously leaked news of the former Marine’s homosexuality to the media. 'It’s too good an opportunity,' Milk reasoned. 'For once we can show that gays do heroic things.' Just as Milk anticipated the 'outing' tactics of ACT-Up and Queer Nation, his rhetoric, too, foreshadowed the hyperbole of AIDS activists of the following decade.

Milk liberally tossed the 'Nazi' label at opponents of various gay-rights proposals and even compared politically moderate homosexuals to Nazi collaborators. 'We are not going to allow our rights to be taken away and then march with bowed heads into the gas chambers,' Milk proclaimed at 1978’s Gay Freedom Parade in San Francisco.

Such unflattering details made neither the final draft of the 'Harvey Milk Day' legislation nor the final cut of the Milk biopic. Milk’s cheerleaders are guilty of sins of omission and commission. What the film and legislation insinuate--in an effort to depict Milk as a martyr for the gay rights movement on par with Martin Luther King’s martyrdom for the Civil Rights movement--is that homophobia killed Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978.

But Harvey Milk’s homosexuality played about as much of a role in his murder as San Francisco mayor George Moscone’s heterosexuality played in his. Their murderer, troubled political neophyte Dan White, had donated $100 to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have empowered school boards to fire teachers for homosexuality. White hired a homosexual as his campaign manager and voted as a city supervisor to fund a Pride Center for homosexuals. White wasn’t driven to murder by Milk’s vision of gay rights but rather by something more pedestrian: the petty politics of City Hall. What makes for good history doesn’t always lend itself to good theater.

In a sign of the instability he would so dramatically display on November 27, a cash-strapped White had resigned his seat on the Board of Supervisors on November 10, only to demand four days later that the mayor reappoint him. Mayor Moscone publicly responded by saying that he still regarded White as a member of the board, handed back his letter of resignation, and promised him the seat.

Enter Harvey Milk, who saw White as an obstacle to progressive initiatives. As the movie depicts, Milk successfully lobbied Moscone to refuse to reseat the former policeman, fireman, and Vietnam veteran. Believing Milk and Moscone guilty of perfidy, the tightly wound, sore-loser White assassinated Moscone and then Milk.

Perhaps the most amazing historical detail of the murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone is that their dramatic assassinations weren’t the biggest story to hit San Francisco in November of 1978. Bowdlerized from the Hollywood treatment is the role Harvey Milk played in the news story that eclipsed his own murder.

Nine days prior to Milk’s death, more than 900 followers of Jim Jones--many of them campaign workers for Milk--perished in the most ghastly set of murder-suicides in modern history. Before the congregants of the Peoples Temple drank Jim Jones’s deadly Kool-Aid, Harvey Milk and much of San Francisco’s ruling class had already figuratively imbibed.

Milk occasionally spoke at Jones’s San Francisco–based headquarters, promoted Jones through his newspaper columns, and defended the Peoples Temple from its growing legion of critics. Jones provided conscripted 'volunteers' for Milk’s campaigns to distribute leaflets by the tens of thousands. Milk returned the favor by abusing his position of public trust on behalf of Jones’s criminal endeavors.

'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,' Supervisor Milk wrote President Jimmy Carter seven months before the Jonestown carnage. The purpose of Milk’s letter was to aid and abet his powerful supporter’s abduction of a six-year-old boy.

Milk’s missive to the president prophetically continued: '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.' John Stoen, the boy whose actual parents Milk libeled to the president as purveyors of 'bold-faced lies' and blackmail attempts, perished at Jonestown. This, the only remarkable episode in Milk’s brief tenure on the San Francisco board of supervisors, is swept under the rug by his hagiographers.

Sean Penn’s Harvey Milk is as real as Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man.

Who has time for the sordid details of purportedly staged hate crimes and boosterism of America’s most prolific mass murderer when there is a gay Martin Luther King to be mythologized? Even the fervent atheist Milk understood the need for patron saints. When confronted by a jaded supporter over his fabricated tale that the Navy had booted him out because of his sex life, Milk responded: 'Symbols. Symbols. Symbols.' He understood his movement better than his movement did.

When the facts didn’t fit the script, both Milk and his present-day admirers adjusted the facts. As the elected sponsors of Harvey Milk Day realize, Californians are more likely to remember the celluloid hero they saw depicted by Sean Penn earlier this year than the obscure city official who walked largely unnoticed in their midst three decades ago.

The advocates of a Harvey Milk Day know box office. They don’t know the real Harvey Milk."

And the ones that did?

They're not talking.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Early Anniversary Kick Off With CNN's "Escape From Jonestown" Laundering Of The People's Temple Saga

Looks like the annual People's Temple White Wash Festival arrives early this year.

Tonight, Saturday, at 8 p.m. EST, CNN will be rerunning Soledad O'Brien's "Escape From Jonestown" documentary shown during last year's 30th Anniversary of the massacre. Of course you wouldn't know it unless you've kept tuned to CNN for the past several days and seen the promos.

For some unfathomable reason, none of the TV listings off or online have the program listed. I had to call CNN headquarters, where their spokesperson admitted they had made a "boo-boo" and that it would be posted. Maybe, maybe not. Likely a lot of audience will miss out (unless, of course, the CNN rep got it wrong, and the TV promos were misplaced....)

Nope, surely not the first or last time for a Big Media screw-up. To err is human, the ol' adage says, but mass media behemoths have a whole lot of latitude. Save the day. Send multitudes into oblivion. The gamut has been long and wide, and just too often unaccountable when it came to things like the lethal sins of omission.

And then, what do ya know, this marvelous information highway shows up and all that fog wafts magically right out of the public eye!

This episode of abysmal failure to do their jobs to stop an utterly preventable slaughter of over 900 Americans was one of the most appalling in history.

It must be said that "Escape" is one of the better of the People's Temple retrospectives because there are some good solid interviews with survivors. Nonetheless, the cover up continues on the media's conspiracy of silence on the real evolution of the Crime of the Century.

See if you notice these choice excerpts from tonight's show:

O'BRIEN: By his own account, Jim Jones was born on the wrong side of the tracks, in a small Indiana town in the Depression years. By high school, Jones was going to a revivalist style church and preaching to others from the sidewalks of his hometown. At 21, Jones became a student pastor by taking a correspondence course. Within a few years, he had started his own church in Indianapolis, named it Peoples Temple and opened its doors to African-Americans.

He and his wife Marceline became an interracial family through adoption and embraced racial harmony in an era that resisted it. But even then, Jones preached of catastrophe.

G. PARKS: At that time, the cold war was going on. And he was yelling a bomb was going to fall and there would be a nuclear war.

O'BRIEN: In the mid-'60s, Jones moved his church outside the town of Ukiah in Northern California.

G. PARKS: So he got this revelation somehow to come to Ukiah, California. And there was a cave out here.

O'BRIEN: A cave in the hills around Redwood Valley that would shield everyone from nuclear fallout.

G. PARKS: I know now as sure as I'm sitting here -- and I knew, you know, I have for a long time, there was no such place. It was all one of his lies.

O'BRIEN: Jones built this church and offered sanctuary there -- a safety net to the elderly and poor, usually blacks from the inner city. They signed over their Social Security checks and the Peoples Temple cared for them for the rest of their lives....

"Offered sanctuary"? "A safety net"? "....Cared for them for the rest of their lives...."?? Interesting take on it, Soledad. Not a whole lot of discussion, though, about the fraud or extortion or electroshock torture carried out by those "caring" Temple folks on five year-old children.

Nothing, either, regarding the San Francisco Examiner's four page one 1972 articles on a host of nefarious activities occurring in this "safety net," part of a devastating series of exposes that would have obliterated Jim Jones's death camp march. Unfortunately, that came to a screaming halt when that grand Hearst newspaper decided that turning coward was easier.

So the Examiner ceased examining--for five long critical years.

No, such details are just too much of an "inconvenient truth" for CNN's, or any other Big Media Script.

Another excerpt:

O'BRIEN: Verne Gosney joined the church in California about that same time. He and his wife, an interracial couple, were welcome.

GOSNEY: The Peoples Temple was a rich tapestry of people. They were people who had survived adverse situations -- racism, discrimination -- just very difficult lives. And they had triumphed to that point.

O'BRIEN: In 1975, Jones moved his church headquarters from Redwood Valley down to San Francisco, to a larger stage, where he became a political force and a face in photo-ops....

Oh, come now, Verne. The cultists "had triumphed to that point"?

Was this before, or after, they had been bludgeoned and brainwashed into slave laborers??

This last O'Brien statement is the one parroted faithfully by just about every pundit head that runs around Investigative Reporting Wonderland:

O'BRIEN: "....In that summer of 1977, Jones was facing increasing criticism from some members who fled the church because they no longer believed in Jones. When 'New West' magazine published an expose article about church beatings, Jim Jones suddenly decided to leave the country...."

Keep the tradition alive. NO ONE in the Fourth Estate knew anything--until those sleep-walking crusaders Marshal Kilduff, Tim Rieterman, and others leaped out from under their rocks a whopping five years after the Examiner had exposed Jim Jones. Nice work covering their collective tails--err, tales, CNN.

Again, this is not to say that "Escape From Jonestown" doesn't have a lot of solid reporting. It does. But sadly, outrageously, there's enough of a credibility hole here to toss it in with all the other disingenuous servings on Big Media's "true story" slag heap about the People's Temple cult.

Oh, yes, there's also the little matter about the late Harvey Milk, who not only was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom over the summer but was also recently inducted into the California Hall of Fame, along with the great Carol Burnett, George Lucas, and Chuck Yeager.

They're even waiting for Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign into law an official "Harvey Milk Day" for California. Let's just hope that The Terminator can guess who--out of Burnett, Lucas, Yeager, and Milk--faithfully helped Jim Jones keep his flock for the cyanide slaughter in Guyana.

Coming up.....