November 18, 1978: Jonestown

Facebook 0
Twitter
LinkedIn 0
Reddit 0
Delicious
Digg
StumbleUpon 0
WhatsApp
Email
Print

Forty years since the mass suicide/mass murder of Jonestown.  I was a Junior in college at the time.  The late seventies had an apocalyptic feel as the world seemed to be spinning out of control with the Energy Crisis, Stagflation and assorted other massive public ills.  1979 would bring the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of the Shah to Khomeini’s murderous mullah regime in Iran.  Jimmy Carter would give his “malaise” speech on July 4, 1979 in which he basically blamed the American people for his rank incompetence:

 

 

In that atmosphere of gloom and doom the Jonestown cult almost seemed to fit right in.  If President Carter at the time was confused about just who Jim Jones was, he could have asked his wife who had met with Jim Jones in the 1976 campaign, and spoken with him over the phone.  Jones and his Peoples Temple cult in San Francisco had thrown their support behind Carter’s White House run in 1976.

What has been lost/ignored over the years about the Jonestown cult is the ties that Jim Jones had to the far Left in California:

 

In 1965, when Jones was in his mid-30s, he ordered the Peoples Temple moved to California. He drifted away from traditional Christian teachings, describing himself in messianic terms and claiming he was the reincarnation of figures like Christ and Buddha. He also claimed that his goal all along was communism, and, in a twist on the famous dictum that religion is the “opiate of the masses”, that religion was merely his way of making Marxism more palatable.

By the 1970s, the Peoples Temple, now based in San Francisco, had gained significant political influence. Jones’s fierce advocacy for the downtrodden earned him the admiration of leftwing icons like Angela Davis and Harvey Milk and the support of groups like the Black Panthers – a tragically misguided political affinity, given that more than two-thirds of Jonestown’s eventual victims were African American.

The Peoples Temple was, as David Talbot notes in Salon, successful in part because it was politically useful: “Jones could be counted on to deliver busloads of obedient, well-dressed disciples to demonstrations, campaign rallies, and political precincts.”

Go here to read the rest.  Jones also had ties to mainstream liberal Democrats:

Willie Brown, later speaker of the California assembly and mayor of San Francisco, compared Jim Jones to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Dianne Feinstein joined the rest of the San Francisco board of supervisors in honoring Jones “in recognition of his guidance and inspiration” in furthering “humanitarian programs.”

Jerry Brown, California governor then as now, actually spoke at Peoples Temple. George Moscone, who owed his position as mayor of San Francisco to Jones, appointed Jones to San Francisco’s Housing Authority Commission, where he quickly became chairman.

Go here to read the rest.  If so many prominent Republican politicians had such close ties to a murderous cult, I daresay that fact would still be trumpeted in the media today.  Instead, the Jonestown Leftist cult is relegated to the memory hole of the media.  A good look at this forgotten history is Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco by Daniel J. Flynn.

 

 

More to explorer

Advent Light in Darkest Night

   It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for a waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to

PopeWatch: Enrique Shaw

  The Pope is pushing for the canonization of Argentinian businessman Enrique Shaw who died of cancer in 1962.   Enrique Shaw

16 Comments

  1. Socialism appropriates the peoples’ potential as its own and proceeds to dictate, criticize and condemn. Jimmy Carter was condemning our potential to his dictates. Jimmy carter signed on to the Trilateral Commission for one world government under the godless world bank after he was elected president but before he was inaugurated. Seems like Carter divested himself of his citizenship in America by signing onto the one world government under the world bank through the Trilateral Commission.
    Jim Jones condemned the peoples’ potential to death. Since socialism has no sin, murdering hundreds of people by forcing them to drink cyanide cannot be sinful.

  2. I was in a cult when Jonestown happened. The stuff I read about it helped me to get out of that cult a couple of years later.

  3. I was in the seventh grade when this happened. I remember. as a twelve year old kid at the time, feeling quite freaked out seeing this on the news and seeing the images on the front pages of newspapers and magazines.

    In addition to the political instability of the time, I remember there was a lot more end of world talk back then than there is now.

    Lately, I have been watching some documentary videos of this massacre on You Tube. Jackie Spier, who now holds Ryan’s congressional seat, was in Jonestown with Ryan at the time and was shot to within an inch of her life on that airfield.

    She is as loopy leftist democrat as they come now. It staggers the imagination how someone who witnessed what she did could be pro-abortion.

  4. Jimmy Carter would give his “malaise” speech on July 4, 1979 in which he basically blamed the American people for his rank incompetence:

    I don’t recall he did that. He did offer a complaint about the culture. The culture was troublesome. The thing is, there is a time and a place for exhortations and that wasn’t one.

    Carter made a number of bad policy decisions. The thing is, the mentality of the political class was such at the time that almost any conceivable Democratic president other than Carter would have made worse ones in the realm of domestic policy. Henry Jackson would arguably have made better decisions in regard to high politics, but he’d have had a bear of a time with much of the Democratic congressional caucus. Morris Udall would have done a vastly better job getting Congress on his side, but to what end? Remember some of the policy cr!p which was under discussion in the Democratic Party during the period running from 1980 to about 1987? Ralph Nader’s ‘consumer’s democracy’, wage and price controls, ‘welfare rights’, the ‘Humphrey-Hawkins’ bill, administrative rationing of gasoline, ‘industrial policy’, ‘comparable worth’, &c. Carter declined to subscribe to this (or did so in only a pro forma way).

  5. Carter had some serious deficiencies as an administrator. This was put in stark relief during Reagan’s tenure, because Reagan was a natural as a public executive. However, Carter had worked within the hierarchy in the Navy, run the family business, and been Governor of Georgia. His opponents in 1976 included Morris Udall, Frank Church, and Henry Jackson, none of whom had ever been an executive at all. George Wallace had, but he was physically frail and an odious human being. Jerry Brown had as well and might have done better than Carter, but 37 year old bachelors are not optimal for the Presidency. N.B. Gerald Ford had been learning-by-doing as an executive; the results were often messy; see Ron Nessen on this point (Nessen was a Ford admirer).

  6. “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

    The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.”

    What made this preacher president truly obnoxious is that he had no clue that his policy recommendations were completely counter-productive. Carter was miserable at the job of being President, and thus he became scolder-in-chief. He richly earned the thumping he got at the hands of Reagan and the American people in 1980.

  7. What made this preacher president truly obnoxious is that he had no clue that his policy recommendations were completely counter-productive.

    The only one I remember was some research program to generate synthetic fuels. It seems to me there were about four others. Carter, over the vigorous opposition of George McGovern, was able to remove some price controls on petroleum products. (Natural Gas IIRC). He also managed to persuade Congress to remove mercantile regulations which induced dead weight loss and rent seeking in the transportation sector.

    His worst set of decisions were in the realm of monetary policy. I’m wagering he was listening to James Tobin, who was promoting the idea that it would take 15 years to restabilize prices, so it wasn’t worth it. His administration did flat nothing about it for 33 months (leaving aside some silly Potemkin measures). He found Paul Volcker’s policy innovations in the fall of 1979 inconvenient, so insisted he abandon them in favor of credit controls (while successfully marketing the policy reversal as a Bold New Initiative).

    Carter was obsessed with ‘the energy crisis’ and some of Obama’s policy shticks are those of a man who collided with that discourse at an impressionable age and never got over it. Carter, in turn, was almost certainly influenced by Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome (see the Global 2000 Report produced under the administration’s auspices.

    To be fair to Carter, it was like pulling teeth to get Congress to do much salutary. Addressing problems required a few policy measures which in turn required some patience before they paid dividends. Some were quite outside the Overton window at the time. (e.g. unadulterated market pricing of petroleum products, replacing a bevy of command-and-control regulations on automakers with Pigou levies on auto emissions, financing maintenance and amortization of the Interstate Highways with road tolls, slapping an adjustable excise on gasoline which would collect enough revenue to finance the sum of the road maintenance budgets at all levels, replacing a bevy of command and control regulations on industry with Pigou levies on emissions, slapping Pigou levies on natural gas and home heating oil, and letting county governments finance their own mass transit systems without federal intervention. You’d have broken OPEC earlier without compromising the flexibility of consumers and producers to make the necessary adjustments.

  8. Cam-
    and that is why I grew up with there never being koolaid in the house.

    My dad is a very gentle man* and that just absolutely horrified him. Even though it’s not rational, he couldn’t see the stuff without thinking of all those dead kids. So mom never had it around, we had Tang (astronaut orange juice!) if it was anything.

    *He’s not controlled by it. Really ruins a lot of characters when you respond to someone who is supposed to be gentle by identifying them as just nice, and spineless to boot– their “gentle” is about not wanting to feel the pain of others, while dad’s is about trying to minimize the suffering of others as possible. Dad is really extraordinary.

  9. OF COURSE, Jim Jones cannot be taken at face value when he called himself a Christian, but when he called himself a Marxist, that has to be taken as the Gospel truth. It’s not as though Jones was of his father the devil, and the desires of the devil Jones would do; or that Jones’ father was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him; or that when Jones’ father speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

    Nope; it’s all got to be more simple than that. There is only one evil for you, and that is Socialism, just as for the Left there is only one evil, and that is Fascism. There are no grades or degrees, let alone qualitatively different kinds of evil. Jack Chick may have been profoundly wrong about the Catholic Church (so he was a crypto-Marxist!), but he at least was right in believing that there are no truths too profound to fit into a 10-page cartoon tract, eh?

  10. Foxfier, the mass murder of families in the S. A. jungle was truly awful. No chance of the cavalry to the rescue.
    MThanks for sharing about your dad n Koolaid. I get the use of “gentle”. We are so lucky to have had (in my case past tense) good fathers. That’s another gratitude thought for the Thanksgiving blessing.

  11. Sorry, Donald, but Jim Jones was 100% a cult leader. His objectives were power for Jim Jones, not the Communist Party, wealth for Jim Jones, and (as is almost a universal feature of cult leaders) access to any woman he desired. Cult leaders manipulate people where they live emotionally, and in the 1970’s one of the emotional hot buttons he could push was the Cold War.

    It’s an ugly look when you give the impression that although it may have been a shame that he proclaimed himself to be God and ordered the whole community to commit suicide or be murdered, were you think he REALLY went wrong was to challenge the most holy sacrament of the Free Market.

    It should not need to be stated that the Free Market is like the internal combustion engine: its positives probably outweigh its negatives, but it is neither without flaws nor an end in itself, but merely a means to an end. Both make very sorry idols.

  12. “Sorry, Donald, but Jim Jones was 100% a cult leader.”

    Sure he was he was. He was also a hard core Communist and a supporter of the Soviet Union. The two are not mutually exclusive. His ties to the Communist Party dated back to 1951. Communism was always of extreme importance to him.

    https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=64856

    “It’s an ugly look when you give the impression that although it may have been a shame that he proclaimed himself to be God and ordered the whole community to commit suicide or be murdered, were you think he REALLY went wrong was to challenge the most holy sacrament of the Free Market.”

    I am sure that few of the readers of this blog would have such an erroneous interpretation of what I wrote. Jones was a murderous cult leader and a committed communist. The latter point has been allowed to go down the popular memory hole and I intend to point that out.

  13. It’s an ugly look when you give the impression that although it may have been a shame that he proclaimed himself to be God and ordered the whole community to commit suicide or be murdered, were you think he REALLY went wrong was to challenge the most holy sacrament of the Free Market.

    You’re really lousy at gauging anyone else’s purposes.

    (Jones didn’t have the toolkit to ‘challenge’ any particular set of economic arrangements, btw).

  14. His objectives were power for Jim Jones, not the Communist Party, wealth for Jim Jones, and (as is almost a universal feature of cult leaders) access to any woman he desired.

    Lenin: cult leader. Stalin: cult leader. Kim: 3rd generation cult leader. Chavez: cult leader. Maduro: cult leader. Castro: cult leader. Mao: cult leader. Pol Pot: cult leader. Peron: cult leader

Comments are closed.