Jonestown Mass Suicide: Blame California Democrats

 

A provocative headline, but true. Thanks to another Ricochet member for commemorating a day that should live in infamy, 18 November 1978, Jonestown 40 years ago yesterday. Secular-supremacists, from the first news of the mass suicide, with the horrific photographs published in major news magazines, sought to smear devout religious faith. The narrative was all about blind following of a cult leader. Yet, the true story of Jim Jones’s rise to power, and eventual movement of his devoted followers out of the United States, is inextricably tied to the modern California Democrat party.

Lest you discount this claim as a right-wing, conservative, Republican outrage, exploiting deaths of over 900 men, women, and children, here is what the San Francisco Chronicle has to say:

Before he became infamous for leading 913 people to their deaths in the Guyanese jungle, the Rev. Jim Jones was the darling of San Francisco’s liberal establishment — a man who could spread the wealth to all the fashionable charities and, at a moment’s notice, marshal thousands of followers for a good cause.

Jones was a minister of the Disciples of Christ, but in San Francisco he was best known as the suave if slightly sinister leader of Peoples Temple, a flock of perhaps 8,000 people, mostly poor and mostly black, who appeared to do everything Jones told them to do.

With these willing workers, Jones made himself the perfect gift for the liberal machine of US Representatives Phillip and John Burton, Assemblyman Willie Brown and Mayor George Moscone, which was trying to consolidate its hold on San Francisco politics….

“There wasn’t anything magical about Jim’s power,” Timothy Stoen, who spent nearly seven years in Peoples Temple as Jones’ attorney, said the other day.

“It was raw politics. He was able to deliver what politicians want, which is power. And how do you get power? By votes. And how do you get votes? With people. Jim Jones could produce 3,000 people at a political event.”

Or, consider the words of Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D–CA). She was an aide to Congressman Ryan (D–CA), who died in an ambush in Guyana, trying to rescue people from Jonestown.

She said that San Francisco politicians failed to hold Jones accountable before he fled to Guyana in July 1977.

“Elected officials in San Francisco put their political interests ahead of their public duties to enforce the laws,” she said.

At the same time that Ryan investigated Jonestown, California state Assemblyman Willie Brown was organizing a $25-a-plate fundraiser for the Peoples Temple in San Francisco, with comedy legend Dick Gregory as a headlining act and city supervisor Harvey Milk as a scheduled attendee.

Speier said that State Department officials failed to hold Jones accountable after he moved to the remote northwestern province of Guyana.

“The State Department did not do its job,” she said. “They had a duty to warn, a duty to investigate, a duty to protect, and they failed on all three of those.”

In 1977, the State Department was led by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, in President Jimmy Carter’s administration. They were hardly likely to get crosswise of San Francisco Democrats, or California Governor Jerry Brown. Not one of the leftist California Democrats, depending on street muscle and “votes” have ever been held to account, not one’s legacy tainted, by their cynical embrace of Jim Jones. Salon, in 2012, was excoriating:

It was Burton ally Willie Brown – a rising force in California’s state capital — who first recognized that Jones’s organization could play a pivotal role in his friend George Moscone’s run for mayor. Moscone, a charming and handsome state legislator, had electrified San Francisco progressives with his campaign for city hall. A champion of gays, women, minorities, tenants and organized labor, Moscone was locked in a tight race with a pack of opponents led by conservative realtor John Barbagelata, whose campaign evoked a nostalgia for an older San Francisco, when it was ruled by traditional Catholic values.

In this political season, with fresh stories of vote rigging, it is worth considering Jim Jones part in rigging the San Francisco mayoral race against a conservative Catholic Democrat, in favor of the new secularist leftist coalition:

“We loaded up all 13 of our buses with maybe 70 people on each bus, and we had those buses rolling nonstop up and down the coast into San Francisco the day before the election,” recalled Jim Jones Jr. “We had people going from precinct to precinct to vote. So could we have been the force that tipped the election to Moscone? Absolutely! Slam dunk. He only won by 4,000 votes. I’m sorry, but I’ve got to give my father credit for that. I think he did the right thing. George Moscone was a good person; he wanted what was best for San Francisco.”

If Republicans had embraced Jim Jones, using his support to cement the ascent of the conservative wing, we would have wall-to-wall television retrospectives and demands for every Republican to denounce “religious extremists.” Instead, even Fox News focused on survivors, the martyrdom of a few journalists, and the heroism of one Democratic politician.

There are 21 comments.

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  1. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    It’s getting so that if no affiliation is mentioned, you can assume it’s a Democrat.

    • #1
  2. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Even my long-hair hippie parents didn’t ever believe that Jim Jones was a conservative.

    • #2
  3. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Congresswoman Jackie Speier wrote a piece for Politico on her Jonestown experience titled, “Surviving Jonestown.”  

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/11/10/jonestown-massacre-first-person-speier-ryan-jones-222222

    I was 28, lying on a dusty airplane runway in the Guyanese jungle, and dying.

    It was just a matter of time. Five bullets had ripped through me, devastating the right side of my body. Behind the wheel of an airplane, I waited for the shooting to stop and said my Act of Contrition, praying for forgiveness and waiting for the lights to go out.

    It’s an amazing story.  Maybe a warning that we shouldn’t believe people who promise utopia?

     

     

    • #3
  4. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    There is a new book out, Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco, that goes over the relationships between Jones and the political Left in San Francisco. I haven’t read the book yet but I heard the author, Daniel Flynn, on the radio. It sounds interesting and disturbing.

    I still don’t like when people use the expression “drank the Kool-aid” because it’s origin is from Jonestown. Although, while many did drink it willingly, a lot of the people were just shot. 

    • #4
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Congresswoman Jackie Speier wrote a piece for Politico on her Jonestown experience titled, “Surviving Jonestown.”

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/11/10/jonestown-massacre-first-person-speier-ryan-jones-222222

    I was 28, lying on a dusty airplane runway in the Guyanese jungle, and dying.

    It was just a matter of time. Five bullets had ripped through me, devastating the right side of my body. Behind the wheel of an airplane, I waited for the shooting to stop and said my Act of Contrition, praying for forgiveness and waiting for the lights to go out.

    It’s an amazing story. Maybe a warning that we shouldn’t believe people who promise utopia?

    A lesson Jackie Speier, despite all she witnessed and experienced, still doesn’t get. She’s still a Democrat.

    Join me, he assured his followers, and you’ll get health care, education and a family that would never mistreat you.

    That is the Democrat’s party platform. We’ll give you everything, and there will be no price to pay. Will Democrats suffer the consequences for their false promises, or will we have to have another Jonestown first? That’s usually how the Left’s ideology works out in the real world — mass death.

    • #5
  6. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    So the Democratic Party is where weirdos used to go to get legitimacy?   Now that they’re all weird, what do they do?  Take over governors mansions.

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    From what I’ve read of the People’s Temple, Jones has abandoned all pretense of religion by the time of the move to Guyana. He didn’t need the competition.

    • #7
  8. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The death of Congressman Leo Ryan killed the narrative that this was a Democratic Party scandal. Ryan was an admirable liberal.  Somebody who walked the talk, as I recall.  Teaching in ghetto schools, going to prisons to study conditions. A very decent, sincere guy.

    Jones’ political muscle ended the political ascendancy of the normals in San Francisco.  Jones ally Willie Brown became the perennially most powerful politician in California who also helped launch the career of paramour Senator Kamala Harris.

    I recall the shock of hearing that a Congressman had been shot.  The mass Kool Aid suicides did not really register for a while.  It was too weird.

    • #8
  9. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Percival (View Comment):

    From what I’ve read of the People’s Temple, Jones has abandoned all pretense of religion by the time of the move to Guyana. He didn’t need the competition.

    Well, I think it was his own religion of sorts, but he was hostile towards the Bible.

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    There is a new book out, Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco, that goes over the relationships between Jones and the political Left in San Francisco. I haven’t read the book yet but I heard the author, Daniel Flynn, on the radio. It sounds interesting and disturbing.

    I still don’t like when people use the expression “drank the Kool-aid” because it’s origin is from Jonestown. Although, while many did drink it willingly, a lot of the people were just shot.

    It’s a blood libel against Kool-Aid.  At Jonestown, they drank Flavor-Aid.

    • #10
  11. Pathfinder1208 Member
    Pathfinder1208
    @Pathfinder1208

    In the book “Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple” by author Jeff Guinn, there is a passage where Jones states to a friend that he is a Socialist and his “religion” is just a front. It has been a while since I read the book but from my recollection, he actually met with Rosalynn Carter leading up to the 1976 presidential election. I remember Dianne Feinstein’s name was also mentioned in the portion of the book where he was involved in Oakland and San Fransisco politics. I don’t recall how involved she was with his organization.

    Another thing I remember from the book was that his followers were basically used as slave labor, subsisting on very little food and stripped of all of their possessions. At the time of his passing, Jim Jones had about $40 million dollars hidden away in foreign banks. This was from a NY Times article:

    As his political power grew, so did the wealth of his church, which was collected by members in a variety of business enterprises and through levies of 25 to 40 percent of their gross incomes and sales of their homes and other property — many times against their will. They did so out of fear, they would later say.

    Mr. Stoen said that he personally arranged for $5 million to be deposited in foreign banks, and he said the church’s total assets were probably far greater.

    Socialism in a nutshell.

    • #11
  12. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Pathfinder1208 (View Comment):

    In the book “Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple” by author Jeff Guinn, there is a passage where Jones states to a friend that he is a Socialist and his “religion” is just a front. It has been a while since I read the book but from my recollection, he actually met with Rosalynn Carter leading up to the 1976 presidential election. I remember Dianne Feinstein’s name was also mentioned in the portion of the book where he was involved in Oakland and San Fransisco politics. I don’t recall how involved she was with his organization.

    Here he is with her, then With Jerry Brown, then receiving the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award:

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Pathfinder1208 (View Comment):

    In the book “Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple” by author Jeff Guinn, there is a passage where Jones states to a friend that he is a Socialist and his “religion” is just a front. It has been a while since I read the book but from my recollection, he actually met with Rosalynn Carter leading up to the 1976 presidential election. I remember Dianne Feinstein’s name was also mentioned in the portion of the book where he was involved in Oakland and San Fransisco politics. I don’t recall how involved she was with his organization.

    Here he is with her, then With Jerry Brown, then receiving the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award:

    Oof. 

    • #13
  14. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Who is being quoted in the paragraph about the 13 buses? 

    • #14
  15. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Clifford A. Brown: If Republicans had embraced Jim Jones, using his support to cement the ascent of the conservative wing, we would have wall-to-wall television retrospectives and demands for every Republican to denounce “religious extremists.” Instead, even Fox News focused on survivors, the martyrdom of a few journalists, and the heroism of one Democratic politician.

    Just another piece of evidence demonstrating the blatant double standards of the media. Their sins of omission are probably greater than their sins of inaccuracy. 

    • #15
  16. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Bathos, you beat me to it.  How dare you link our wondrous ever rational and never inflammatory Senator, Kamela Harris, to the “conservative” Reverend Jim Jones, even  though she got her start in the California political power game in the bed of  ol’ Willie Brown?

    • #16
  17. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Bathos, you beat me to it. How dare you link our wondrous ever rational and never inflammatory Senator, Kamela Harris, to the “conservative” Reverend Jim Jones, even though she got her start in the California political power game in the bed of ol’ Willie Brown?

    Have you seen pictures of that guy?! I almost have to think she earned it haha

    • #17
  18. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    I still don’t like when people use the expression “drank the Kool-aid” because it’s origin is from Jonestown. Although, while many did drink it willingly, a lot of the people were just shot. 

    I didn’t understand Rush Limbaugh’s bit in 1992, when he setup a Kool-Aid stand outside the DNC convention, until many years later. Jim Jones might have been in my general cultural knowledge, but not the details. It wasn’t until years later that I read up on his cult.

    • #18
  19. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    There is a new book out, Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco, that goes over the relationships between Jones and the political Left in San Francisco. I haven’t read the book yet but I heard the author, Daniel Flynn, on the radio. It sounds interesting and disturbing.

    I still don’t like when people use the expression “drank the Kool-aid” because it’s origin is from Jonestown. Although, while many did drink it willingly, a lot of the people were just shot.

    Thanks for pointing out the coercion behind the mass suicide.  

    • #19
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    Who is being quoted in the paragraph about the 13 buses? 

    “We loaded up all 13 of our buses with maybe 70 people on each bus, and we had those buses rolling nonstop up and down the coast into San Francisco the day before the election,” recalled Jim Jones Jr. 

    By the way, this was a late 20th Century version of the old “repeater gangs” of men organized by a party to vote in multiple precincts. Intimidation was used to get the fraudulent ballots into the boxes.

    • #20
  21. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    Who is being quoted in the paragraph about the 13 buses?

    “We loaded up all 13 of our buses with maybe 70 people on each bus, and we had those buses rolling nonstop up and down the coast into San Francisco the day before the election,” recalled Jim Jones Jr.

    By the way, this was a late 20th Century version of the old “repeater gangs” of men organized by a party to vote in multiple precincts. Intimidation was used to get the fraudulent ballots into the boxes.

     Thanks , don’t know how I missed it. Today the intimidation factor is the threat of being accused of racist voter suppression. 

    • #21
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