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.