Friday, November 28, 2008
Grief And Discord Mark Jonestown's 30th Anniversary; Cult Leader's Son Claims His Father A "Victim" Being "Villainized"
Another Thanksgiving gone and there's little doubt about one thing:
For this group of people, their great American family event was forever shattered 30 years ago by an unspeakable horror.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons, massacred by a madman in a distant jungle. Senseless and appalling. More than this -- what nearly all the religious, media, and political powers-that-be still refuse to admit to this day -- preventable.
For the Concerned Relatives and all the others, seeing Cult Ruler Jim Jones destroy their loved ones was unimaginable anguish. And only a little over a week before that Thanksgiving Day in 1978.
But many of them were in for a shock last week during the annual memorial service at the Jonestown mass grave in Oakland, California's Evergreen Cemetery.
The Rev. Jynona Norwood, a Los Angeles evangelist who lost her mother and 26 other family members, unveiled the first two black granite panels of what will be a 36 foot-long stone wall with the names of all the victims.
Actually, all except one: The man who ordered his thugs to slaughter more than 900 people, nearly one-third of them children and infants. "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."
"Villainizing" a mass murderer??
Now there's a thought. And while we're at it, just quit all this villainizing of some of the late reverend's famously sadistic and murderous colleagues.
Lovable John Wayne Gacy, Jr. would be a good start. Yeeesssss, it's true he had some issues with an overcharged libido, torture, and burying bodies under the house. But you see, the plain and simple fact is that Gacy was a victim. After all, would you enjoy the terrible ordeal of being a misunderstood clown?
Label him a "villain" -- and create more tragedy? Absolutely not. Besides, we gotta give "Pogo The Killer Clown" some credit for doing social work for the needy, entertaining all those children at neighborhood block parties. One more thing: he was Democrat, and an active one at that. When First Lady Rosalynn Carter came to Chicago, guess who had a photo op with her (like that other activist in San Francisco.)
And speaking of entertainers, here's a famous fellow who plays a mean guitar and even befriended a real Beach Boy in sun-baked Southern California. Yes, it's all true, Charles Milles Manson did have some rather helter skelter notions about the future (which seems to be a common thread with these c----, aahhmmm, "New Religious Movements".) But remember; he had a really bad childhood, got locked up a lot, and did a whole lot of drugs. He continues to be a wee bit overbearing and manipulative, yes. But, no, definitely not a villain, that Charlie. Victimhood granted.
Rounding out this tragic trio is perhaps the most original of all "victims," Milwaukee's Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer. Tragically, he suffered all manner of terrible vices at once: rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism. A struggling taxidermist, as well. His biggest fear was reported to be rejection & abandonment. That sounds eerily a bit like that fellow from nearby Indiana, who liked "God" for a nickname.
So tread lightly with such troubled souls, victimized by their madness and acting out. Avoid "villainizing" them whenever possible.
Maybe, though, I just misinterpreted Mr. Jones, Jr.'s message. Or, it could very well be he's been spending a bit too much time with the wrong crowd. Here he is, hanging with a scowling Stanley Nelson (on left.) Lord (of illusions) Nelson is the proud producer/director of the infamously disreputable, "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple." Besides winning the biggest trophy as the most accomplished cult apologist film in history, Stan took care to give Jones, Jr. a starring role! Not that he necessarily needed to, since his editing/revisionist witchcraft alone was spellbinding.
On the other hand, Nelson billowed with so much amazing "info" fed by those Cult Apologists Titans Becky Moore and Mac McGehee, that he simply couldn't resist chiming at every interview about all "the good that People's Temple did" and that "the old people were cared for..." and the "sense of family -- a sense of community."
Try, try, though, to find anything in Nelson's film that goes beyond a sugar glazing of, say, this cult's horrendous, sadistic abuse of children and adults alike, or the full measure of Jones's astonishing partnership with California officials (who again and again, ignored the evidence LONG before 1977), the fraud & extortion, or even his Marxist-Leninist fanaticism that is so blatantly clear.
Now hold on, just one moment. You think that just maybe.....perhaps.....that all this really might boil down to, hmmmmm -- possibly some curious political bend afflicting Mr. Nelson, and, yeeahhh, Ms. Moore, too??.....and, even a chance that hoard of Lotus Land power brokers has it too?
One quite cogent observation comes from author Dan Flynn, who though receiving an automatic caveat as an unabashed right-winger, I think is worth a listen. See, Flynn's particular outlook doesn't necessarily mean a permanent confinement to perpetually twisted arguments, any more than it does for some some quick & clever leftist, such as, say, a Noam Chomsky. What matters: Do the polemics measure up?
You be the judge.
"On November 17, 1978," writes Flynn, "Jim Jones was a hero to American leftists. On November 18, 1978, Jones orchestrated the killings of 918 people and strangely morphed in the eyes of American leftists into an evangelical Christian fanatic. An unfortunately well-worn narrative, playing out contemporaneously in Pol Pot's Cambodia, of socialist dreams ending in ghoulish nightmares, then, conveniently shifted to one about the dangers of organized religion.
"But as The Nation magazine reported at the time, 'The temple was as much a left-wing political crusade as a church. In the course of the 1970s, its social program grew steadily more disaffiliated from what Jim Jones came to regard as Fascist America and drifted rapidly toward outspoken Communist sympathies.' So much so that the last will and testament of the Peoples Temple, and its individual members who left notes, bequeathed millions of dollars in assets to the Soviet Union.
"As Jones expressed to a Soviet diplomat upon upon his visit to Jonestown the month before the smiling suicides took place, 'For many years, we have let our sympathies be quite publicly known, that the United States government was not our mother, but that the Soviet Union was our spiritual motherland.'
"Jim Jones was an evangelical communist who became a minister to infiltrate the church with the gospel according to Marx and Lenin. He was an atheist missionary bringing his message of socialist redemption to the Christian heathen. 'I decided, how can I demonstrate my Marxism?,' remembered Jones of his days in 1950s Indiana. 'The thought was, infiltrate the church.' So in the forms of Pentecostal ritual, Jones smuggled socialism into the minds of true believers -- who gradually became true believers of a different sort.
"Unless one counts his drug-induced bouts with self-messianism, Jones didn't believe in God. Get it -- a Peoples Temple. He shocked his parishioners, many of whom certainly did believe in God, by dramatically tossing the Bible onto the ground during a sermon. 'Nobody's going to come out of the sky!' an excited Jones had once informed his flock. 'There's no heaven up there! We'll have to have heaven down here!' Like so many efforts to usher in the millennium before it, Jones's Guyanese road to heaven on earth detoured to a hotter afterlife destination.
"The horrific scene in a Guyanese jungle clearing could have been avoided. Thousands of miles north, for years leading up to Jonestown, San Francisco officials and journalists had looked the other way while Jones acted as a law unto himself.
"So what if he abused children, sodomized a follower, tortured and held temple members at gun point, and defrauded the government and people of welfare and social security checks? He believes in socialism and so do we. That was the ends-justifies-the-means attitude that enabled Jim Jones to commit criminal acts in San Francisco with impunity. The people who should have stopped him instead encouraged him.
"....By virtue of producing rent-free rent-a-rallies for liberal politicians and causes, Jim Jones engendered enormous amounts of good will from Democratic politicians and activists. They allowed their political ambitions to derail their governing responsibilities. Frisco pols like Harvey Milk never seemed to care how Jones could, at the snap of his fingers, direct hundreds of people to stack a public meeting or volunteer for a campaign.
"City Councilman Milk just knew that he benefited from that control, and therefore never bothered to do anything to inhibit the dangerous cult operating in his city. Instead, he actively aided and abetted a homicidal maniac. It wasn't just local hacks Jones commanded respect from. He held court with future First Lady Rosalyn Carter, vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale, and California Governor Jerry Brown.
"A man who killed more African Americans than the Ku Klux Klan was awarded a local Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award and won the plaudits of California lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally, state assemblyman Willie Brown, radical academic Angela Davis, preacher/politician Jesse Jackson, Black Panther leader Huey Newton, and other African American activists.
"From Newton, whom Jones had visited in Cuban exile in 1977, Jones got his lawyer and received support, such as a phone-to-megaphone address to Jonestown during a 'white night' dry run of mass suicide. This was appropriate, as it was from Newton whom Jones appropriated the phrase 'revolutionary suicide' -- the title of a 1973 Newton book -- that he used as a moniker for the murder-suicides of more than 900 people on November 18, 1978.
"'We didn't commit suicide,' Jones announced during the administering of cyanide-laced Flavoraid to his flock, 'we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.' Newton's comically idiotic slogan boomeranged on him, as several of his relatives perished in the Kool-Aid carnage.
"It's worth remembering that before the people of Peoples Temple drank Jim Jones's Kool-Aid, the leftist political establishment of San Francisco gulped it down.
"And without the latter, the former would have never happened."
Final note (excerpt from "Madman In Our Midst"):
"Gray skies dripped sadness and sorrow over San Francisco yesterday", wrote Herb Caen, "Headlines told of tragedy and madness in steaming jungles...how to judge the insanity surrounding the end of Rev. Jim Jones...Who would have expected THIS?"
Willie Brown stated "he has not regrets" over his past association with Jones and the People's Temple. Brown also mentioned he would not try to dissociate himself like so many other politicians were. "They all like to say, 'Forgive me, I was wrong', but that's bulls--t. It doesn't mean a thing now, it just isn't relevant."
Doesn't psychiatry have a word for that, Mr. Mayor?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"I'll lend you for a little time a child of Mine," He said,
"For you to love the while he lives and mourn for when he's dead,
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for Me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and shall his stay be brief
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.
"I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call to take him back again?"
I fancied that I heard them say, "Dear Lord, Thy will be done."
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may
And for the happiness we've known forever grateful stay;
But shall the angels call for him much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand."
--- Edgar Guest
Monday, November 17, 2008
CNN's "Escape From Jonestown"-- Powerful But Still Incomplete Reporting On The Eve Of A Terrible Anniversary
"Thirty years ago," says CNN, "900 people died by murder and suicide. Only a few survived. Now, CNN special correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports on their untold stories...."
In its special report that originally aired last Thursday--five days before we observe the anniversary of that horrific day--CNN did a fine job interviewing former cult members who miraculously survived the slaughter. They told the truth about life in Jonestown, in all its graphic, shocking details.
But what the CNN producers refused to reveal was just how preventable this crime of the century really was. Not that this coverup wasn't expected. But just imagine if all the guilty parties that aided and abetted Jim Jones
in his rise to power were to step forward with one massive, long-overdue apology (in the style of Robert MacNamera's Vietnam mea culpa) AND media behemoths like the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle admitted they could have stopped Jones's cult assassins LONG before November 18, 1978?
Imagine if, just once, the San Francisco Examiner came clean about their cowardice in not standing up to Jones and his threats to sue because of the paper's exposes in 1972 (half of which were shelved by those editors.) Imagine, too, if the San Francisco Chronicle at last gave us an accurate retrospect of what they did and didn't do to save the Temple cult members from their hellish captivity and ultimate destruction
Maybe this could be made into a song. Call it "Imagine II." Much less sanguine than the first.
As it is, the Chronicle's series, "Ten Days That Shook S.F.," kicked off yesterday, bringing on an added dimension to the world of media whitewash.
Imagine (sorry, the thought keeps poppin' up) the public's reaction if the Chronicle revealed how their "Institution", the late, great columnist Herb Caen, had been in virtual cahoots with Jim Jones. Caen did all kinds of shimmering plugs for the cult; just a little over a year before the November, 1978 mass murder, Caen claimed Jones was the "target of a ceaseless media barrage" and was actually "doing the work of the Lord" in Guyana.
Oh, but of course, Herb. The "work of the Lord", .....
Don't worry folks, the secret's safe. Current Chronicle editor-in-chief Phil Bronstein would no more disclose this on his pages than he would discuss the shameless behavior of his former employer, the S.F. Examiner. The Examiner, of course, had been bullied by Jones's attack dog attorney, Tim Stoen, to shelve half of my father's 1972 Temple exposes, even after he had returned from Ukiah with taped sworn statements and signed affidavits from members of the Concerned Citizens who were facing down--unlike the Chronicle & Examiner--the cult terror all around them.
That brings us to yet another exceedingly dishonest voice that has already been telling his Anniversary Historic Fiction Story over the Associated Press network: Mr. Tim Reiterman. Ol' Tim, as I have said, was unquestionably brave in going down there to Jonestown with the Ryan party, and nearly got killed on that airstrip. Still, this can't excuse his lying about investigative reporter Les Kinsolving, loaded down with sworn statements and affidavits fresh from Ukiah, and falsely accusing him of having exposes "not well substantiated."
Clearly our "Raven" star author was angling for some insurance that it would be REITERMAN that would stay bathed in limelights, despite the fact that he, like Chronicle reporter Marshall Kilduff and all the rest, did NOTHING for all those years leading up to 1977. NOTHING to lift a hand to write a critical word about this dangerous cult leader. NOTHING to try and save all those people trapped in a madman's crushing iron grip.
Better late than never?? Not this time.
That's the truly phenomenal thing about this People's Temple Saga. Like the astoundingly evil Indiana con man that gave birth to this frightful cult, so also came a school of relentless bottom feeders.
Be they ruthless opportunists or gutless appeasers, their sordid behavior was the ultimate key to Jim Jones's breath-taking success before The Fall.
San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church's Radical Reverend Cecil Williams gave his blessing......
"We are pleased and honored that you will be with us...to accept Glide's 4th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award", Williams wrote to Jones, in January, 1977, "in recognition of your leadership to many communities of people."
Rev. Williams presented this coveted honor to Jones at the height of the Temple's power in San Francisco. Interestingly enough, the Martin Luther King Award was offered up just two years after Humanitarian Mister Jones had stuffed $6,500 into Williams's pocket. Who knows, maybe Jones was flush with some freshly extorted cash from some senior's "donated" life savings....
And what did the high and mighty local media baron Charles deYoung Thieriot have to say about all this? ".....The church is best known and highly regarded for its
social works," said the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, "which include housing and feeding senior citizens and medical convalescents, maintaining a home for retarded boys, rehabilitating youthful drug users. . ."
Now here's yet another famous fellow, something of a community leader in his day, who also was highly regarded for his social works, too. The city of Chicago surely must have been deeply grateful when "Uncle Al" started a program, which was continued for decades after his death, to fight rickets by providing a daily milk ration to Chicago school children. Not only that, but he ALSO opened up many soup kitchens for the poor and homeless....
But of all of Jim Jones's benefactors, none could dare hold a candle to flamboyant, dynamic, and dapper local politician, Willie Brown. "When somebody like Jim Jones comes on the scene," said Brown, in July, 1977, just after the New West expose hit the streets, "...and constantly stresses the need for freedom of speech and equal justice under law for all people, that absolutely scares the hell out of most everybody...I will be here when you are under attack, because what you are about is what the whole system ought to be about!"
Thus, a cornucopia of local celebrities......all of them did their part to make the truly avoidable massacre......unavoidable.
For all the agonizing questions regarding the "hows" and "whys" of such a thing like this happening, one need only look deep into the face of the social psychology dynamic working in tandem with the primeval acts of unscrupulous power brokers.
My best friend, Gregory, is still living in California. He remembers as well as I do the fall day in 1972 when Temple thugs broke into my house at the corner of Marin and Spruce Streets, in the Berkeley Hills. They got what they came for--copies of my father's future columns. The great & powerful Rev. Jim Jones and his top henchman, Tim Stoen, were reaching the point of plotting exactly how to murder the Examiner investigative reporter (no, not you yet, Reiterman.)
Gregory asked me, just after viewing the CNN documentary:
"Did the government officials believe Jones or did they think he was a non-violent quack they could use for political gain? What happens to peoples brains when people like Jones or Hitler or a screaming Drill Sargent keep on screaming at them?
"Is there something hard-wired in children (and adult dumb f----) that when someone screams at them long enough, they will do what they say, and believe anything, because the ones who didn't believe and do what the group did, were taken out of the gene pool....?"
Excellent, relevant questions. One of the best resources available for such inquiry is the renowned Stanford social psychology scholar, Prof. Philip Zimbardo. Zimbardo, whose famed 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment set a standard in gauging the capacity for cruelty, recently authored, "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil."
Judging from the reviews, including these kudos from author Gail Sheehy, there seems little doubt about this book offering some solid insight.
"Stunning!" says the 'Passages' author. "Drawing on a lifetime of brilliant social psychological research, Zimbardo demonstrates how good people can be transformed into 'evil doers' by the power of situation--even you! He decodes how the Bush administration, in the delusion it alone can rid the world of the evil of terrorism, has turned into a model of 'administrative evil.' But Zimbardo also offers us a vision of how we can challenge an unjust system."
A number of sections in Zimbardo's book ultimately had to be deleted for lack of space. One of them was entitled (and can be found on the book's website): "Killing Your Children on Command: Ultimate Demonstration of Situational Power by Reverend Jim Jones"
It is enthralling, to say the least.
"Our final extension of the social psychology of evil from artificial laboratory experiments to real-world contexts comes from the jungles of Guyana, where a very popular American religious leader persuaded more than 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide or be killed by their relatives and friends on November 18, 1978.
"Jim Jones, pastor of Peoples Temple congregations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, set out to create a Socialist utopia in South America where brotherhood and tolerance would be dominant over the materialism and racism he loathed in the United States. But Jones was transformed over time and place from the caring, spiritual 'Father' of this large Protestant congregation into the Angel of Death--a truly cosmic transformation of Luciferian proportions. For now, I want only to establish the obedience link between Milgram’s basement laboratory in New Haven and the jungle killing-field in Guyana.
"The dream of the many poor members of Peoples Temple for a new and better life in Utopia were demolished as soon as Jones instituted forced extended labor, armed guards, the total restriction of all civil liberties, semi-starvation diets, and daily punishments for the slightest breach of any of his many rules that amounted to torture.
"When concerned relatives forced a Congressman and his media crew to inspect the compound, Jones arranged for them to be murdered. He then gathered almost all of those members who were at the compound and gave a speech that lasted less than an hour in which he exhorted them all to take their lives by drinking cyanide-laced Kool Aid. Those who refused were forced to drink by the guards or were shot trying to escape, but most obeyed their leader.
"Jones was surely an egomaniac; he had all of his speeches and proclamations, and even his torture sessions tape-recorded -- including this last hour suicide drill. In it Jones distorts reality. He lies, pleads, makes false analogies, appeals to ideology, and gives assurance of transcendent after lives. Finally, he outright insists that they follow his orders, as his staff efficiently distributes the deadly poison to the more than 900 members gathered around him." [NOTE: Link above ("Torture Sessions")--then click the "Audio"--for a sampling of the cult's unspeakable brutality in CNN's "Punishment With Snake" audio. Jones's shocking sadism is all the more chilling with the sound of his hideous high-pitched laughter as the woman is tortured while the cult mob cheers it on.]
"And they did; they died for 'Dad.' The power of charismatic tyrannical leaders, like Jim Jones and Adolph Hitler, endures long after their deaths, even though they have done terrible things to their followers. Whatever little good they may have done earlier, however, somehow comes to dominate their legacy in the minds of the faithful.
"Consider the example of a young man, Garry Scott, who followed his father into The Peoples Temple but was expelled for being disobedient. Listen to his brief statement as he called the National Call-that followed the broadcast of the NPR show, 'Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown,' by James Reston, Jr. Listen to how he was punished for an infraction of the rules. But more importantly, listen to his articulation of his enduring reaction to this torment.
"Does he hate Jim Jones? Not one bit. He has become a 'True Believer,' a 'Faithful Follower.' Even though his father died of poisoning in Jonestown and he himself was brutally tortured and humiliated, Gary still admires and loves his 'Dad'--Jim Jones. Not even George Orwell’s omnipotent 1984 Party could honestly claim such a victory.
"Gary: 'Like a lot of other young people, I had my sort of rebellion against some of the doctrinal methods that were taking place in the church, and I rebelled, and for that I was punished to become a better Christian. I was physically abused. Beaten with a two-by-four. I was whipped.
'One of the big problems I have in life is I have a phobia against snakes and for one punishment I was tied up and a snake [a boa] was put on top of me and that was psychological torment that I had to go through for a while. And I was sexually abused as well.'
"Moderator Bill Moyers then asked: “What did you see in Jim Jones when you were in the Temple that caused you to be faithful despite your treatment?
"Gary: 'I think the guilt. I felt that I was responsible for everything that was taking place around me. If there was any bad attitudes or any bad feelings emitting from persons in the Temple, I felt that they were my actions.... I followed Jim Jones because he was a very caring person.
'And even today, you know, despite the fact that a lot of my friends, which I considered my brothers and sisters, died, and a lot of them were forced to their death, there is a very personal part of Reverend Jim Jones that still lives today. And even though I’m very frustrated and very disappointed by what happened to my father, there’s still a peace (piece?) here that I see in Reverend Jones.'
"Like Orwell's protagonist, Winston Smith, Gary Scott seems 'to have won a victory over himself. 'In the end, they love Big Brother and Father Jones, alike. Powerful Authority Systems conquer individual personality systems more often than does the reverse."
So true, Dr. Zimbardo.
I'll have to take issue, however, with his statement that "most obeyed their leader" in taking their lives. Guyanese Chief Coroner Leslie Mootoo examined the corpses at Jonestown and discovered that up to 90 percent of the victims had been injected with the cynanide, shot, or strangled.
In the final analysis, over 900 plus Americans were simply coerced, brainwashed, and enslaved. One Jonestown visitor said it resembled a southern antebellum slave plantation, with "Dad" Jones acting the part of the white master, surrounded by his lily-white planning commission crew serving as the overseers, carrying out Marxist Master Jones's crazed orders.
In the end, of course, Temple planning commissioners cold-bloodedly murdered nearly every one in sight. One of these killers, Becky Moore's own sister Annie, left a final note that corroborates how she, as Gary Scot and Orwell's Winston Smith, had won a victory over herself. For Annie Moore, this meant simply surrendering to a "Big Brother" named Jones.
"Where can I begin — JONESTOWN — the most peaceful, loving community that ever existed,' wrote Annie, 'JIM JONES — the one who made this paradise possible — much to the contrary of the lies stated about Jim Jones being a power-hungry sadistic, mean person who thought he was God — of all things.
I want you who read this to know that Jim was the most honest, loving, caring concerned person whom I ever met and knew.....His love for humans was insurmountable and it was many of those whom he put his love and trust in that left him and spit in his face....."
Maybe it was that ringing endorsement that transformed older sister, Rebecca, into one of today's most unabashed cult shills. In fact, the other day she told the Palo Alto Daily News the following:
"The larger question that we should ask," claimed Moore, in that beguiling pitch she uses so effectively on an unaware audience, "is what would have happened if relatives or the media hadn't pressured the community? If they had tried different means, would they have succeeded, and would 900 people be alive today?"
THAT is the "larger question"??
Okay, then. It appears the issue of accountability is at last solved. We'll all remember that on tomorrow's anniversary of when a captive group of men, women, children, and babies were annihilated by a Frankenstein in sunglasses.
With a little help from his friends, of course.
Postscript: JONESTOWN ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 18, tune into the online WCBM (Baltimore) radio broadcast of "The Les Kinsolving Show", 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Les will be joined by both myself and sister Kathleen, as we continue our fight to get the WHOLE story told about Jim Jones and The People's Temple.
Remember, 9 p.m. EST, at URL: WWW.WCBM.COM
Join us and call in with your comments! Talk to you soon.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Move over Stanley Nelson. You've got company.
As predicted, MSNBC's "Witness To Jonestown" carried all the earmarks of a Rebecca Moore behind-the-scenes production. One of my readers, "Dave," had this to say about the two-hour program last Sunday:
"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.)
Moore and her ilk 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."
An unquestionably cogent observation, Dave. Bravo.
Unfortunately, however, for a flaming cult apologist like our "religious scholar" Moore, it's next to impossible for her to feel ashamed until she changes her shameless ways.
Becky Moore and husband "Mac" McGehee's San Diego-based "Jonestown Institute" offers up an endless dunghill range of cult apologist propaganda, to any and all gullible individuals, with extra heavy shovel loads for knuckle headed producers, directors, editors, and reporters. To make it truly palatable, Mac & Becky market their message with an insidious concoction of fact & fantasy that works the public like some macabre supermarket tabloid.
They're willing, able, and ecstatic dispensing all the data, just as long as it's spiked with compelling "evidence" promoting all the wonderful, cheery facets of this so-very destructive cult.
And the Moore/McGehee dynamic duo knows exactly how to play such corporate media outfits like MSNBC, so that a nice, sturdy apologist undercurrent will run in the script just enough to chalk up another "mission accomplished."
And so it was with "Witness To Jonestown." One after another of Becky's friends testified to the "bad" as well as the "good" of the Jones Cult. Interesting, though, because Producer Stephen Stept seemed to have not cared less about interviewing a very relevant source named Pat Lynch.
Pat Lynch is a former NBC (as in the corporate chunk that completes MSNBC) Nightly News producer who had prepared a series of reports on the increasingly dangerous People's Temple cult in the months preceding November, 1978.
Last year, with the circulation of Stan Nelson's outrageous People's Temple whitewash ("The Life and Death of Peoples Temple"), Lynch could no longer remain silent. She wrote in the Huffingon Post about NBC's withholding of hours of footage she had produced:
"I didn't realize the extent of the media cover-up," said Lynch, "until I began revisiting these issues 28 years later. How could NBC lose -- or worse, destroy historical footage of an event like Jonestown? Why? And what about my interviews with the people who predicted from firsthand experience what would happen if the Ryan party entered Jonestown? The documentaries aired recently as the anniversary approaches are a revisionist history of the event. 'Lovely people. Tragic story.'
The real story has yet to be told and must be told for at least three reasons. First, there's the matter of accountability for 918 needless deaths. Second, there's the issue of journalistic responsibility. Those who made these fateful decisions at NBC, including former company president Fred Silverman, former NBC News president Les Crystal and NBC lawyers, are still alive. Finally, at a time when the media is criticized for missing the truth about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and for its own lack of transparency, telling this story is not only a way to come clean but a cautionary tale for all news organizations."
Come clean, indeed. Not a hopeful scenario as long as media moguls like Fred Silverman continue keeping it all swept under their very dirty little rug.
In addition to Dave's comment about the "Witness" load of half-truths, I received this little invite from one of Mac & Becky's cronies, named "Roger":
I am a family friend of the Moore's (Rebecca and Mac McGehee). I've written many articles on the website and I've invited your father to write an article for the Alternative Considerations of Jonestown website. Trust me, they have NOTHING against you or your father. Recently at our annual gathering in San Diego, I suggested we solicit Les to write an article of his experience....."
Well, Roger, please don't think me ungrateful, but this side of the fence will have to take a rain check. One of the more obvious sticking points is the fact that Rebecca's father, Rev. John Moore, delivered--quite cunningly--the contents of my father's briefcase (containing Temple exposes) to Jim Jones himself in 1975. This was to be my father's last-ditch effort to stop the cult--two entire years before Marshall Kilduff rose from his lazy, negligent duff to finally do his job responsibly. Rebecca, meanwhile, has lied outright about why my father left the San Francisco Examiner, in her apologist magnus opus, "A Sympathetic History of Jonestown: The Moore Family Involvement of People's Temple."
We'll discuss that particular Moore scandal a little later, in all its sordid details.
In the meantime, did anyone out there bother taking up my little wager (in the last posting) on the odds that MSNBC would cover up, distort and serve up a generous serving of half-truths, per the "Jonestown Institute's" schematic?
Incredibly, there are other apologists like Moore who continue to sing praises for the "bright side" to The Guyana Gulag That Jim Built. Denise Stephenson, Becky Moore's college roommate, produced the atrocious 2005 book "Dear People: Remembering Jonestown," containing "joyful" letters cult captives frequently were forced to send back to the United States.
Some of the letters in particular raved about the "marvelous" food available at Jonestown. Interesting. What a flagrant contrast to then-12 year-old Tracy Parks's (daughter of slain cult defector Patricia Parks) account of the "People's Temple Agricultural Project."
In a recent interview with the Ukiah Daily Journal--a newspaper that once served as one of the many mouth organs for Jim Jones--Tracy recalled the reality of Jonestown:
"It turned out to be hell on earth," she said. "Once we were there it just finally sunk in and I said, 'Oh my God, I'm going to die here.' We couldn't really get caught talking to each other. Because they knew if you did that you would be planning something."
Diaz [her current married name] said that although the community was advertised as a self-sustainable jungle paradise, that couldn't have been further from the truth.
"My breakfast consisted of rice and milk with bugs in it," she said. "And I joke today that that's how I got my protein. We were just severely malnourished. We found out later it was the rice they fed to the hogs. They would test you periodically. You had to know Chinese, Russian. You had to teach yourself these things. If they asked you something when you were line for food and you didn't know the answer you'd get turned away. It was a constant fear, exhaustion to keep you from rebelling and keep you more able to brainwash, keep you pretty sedate."
Sedated, fearful, and exhausted.
Oh, AND brainwashed,too??
Not a chance--that is, if our renowned Cult Apologist Queen and her pals can help it.
Rebecca Moore and Massimo Introvigne, on an official 2006 visit to the California headquarters of "Unarius," a flying saucer cult. Introvigne is founder and managing director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), as well as a proud director of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. One of Introvigne's more well-known "scholarly papers" was entitled: "'Brainwashing': Career of a Myth in the United States and Europe."
NOTE: Tonight, Thursday, November 13 (9 p.m. EST), CNN will debut its own Jonestown anniversary special, "Escape From Jonestown." They have disclosed recently the discovery that Jim Jones and his inner circle--including Moore's two sisters, Annie and Carolyn--had been importing cyanide every month into Jonestown, for at least two years before their mass murder of the rest of the cult in 1978.
Of course, the real question is whether CNN, like MSNBC, fell prey to the toxic revisionist charms of Mac & Becky's Jonestown Apologist Institute.
Stay tuned, one and all.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Tonight, on network television, we're going to once again be served another purported slice of the real story of the People's Temple.
This month, after all, is a banner anniversary--the 30th--of the November, 1978 Jonestown Massacre in a South American jungle. So a retrospect of this so very, very avoidable tragedy is more than appropriate.
The only question, of course, again is: Will our Big Media finally, at long last, tell the whole truth this time? Or will MSNBC's "Witness To Jonestown" special turn out to be just another truncated tale, with the same old media smokescreen covering up their shameless sloth and cowardice that let Jim Jones get away with mass murder?
Even worse, will it be a companion piece to Director Stanley Nelson's scandalous 2006 cult apologist mockumentary, "The Life and Death of Peoples Temple"?
This is not to say it might not have valuable components, featuring credible interviews with survivors, including the very significant ex-Temple insider, Terri Bufurd. But what really concerns me have been some of the remarks by "Witness To Jonestown" producer/writer Stephen Stept.
"And what is a cult anyway?" writes Stept in the MSNBC website, "Even former members disagree on whether that 'four-letter word' applies to Peoples Temple."
Quite astounding. That's just exactly the bunkum we've been getting for years and years from Official Jonestown Apologist Rebecca Moore.
She's more than qualified for the job, as the sister of two Jonestown mass murderers as well as daughter of one of that "four-letter word's" most ardent propagandists.
"That's a term [cult] we use to describe groups we don't like," Moore told the Sacramento Bee in 2002. "But it's so loaded with negative connotations. If we label something a cult, then we don't make any effort to understand it."
Of course, Professor Becky. She currently uses the San Diego State Univ. Religious Studies Department to promote--not cults, mind you--but what she and her nationwide network of academic cronies like to call "New Religious Movements" (NRM). Scientologists. The Moonies. The Children of God (reported to be child abusers.)
My question is: Who did the Good Professor spend more time lecturing the joys of cult life to, Director Nelson or Producer Stept?
On the other hand, there's always the chance that Stept didn't bother with Rebecca Moore or take seriously her landmark book, "A Sympathetic History of Jonestown," which has countless gems such as, "....Peoples Temple followed a long tradition common to other groups trying to forge a new society."
A long "tradition"? Say, like, attacking five year-old children with cattle prods, and dunking them at the bottom of a well?? Then again, Jim Jones lived and breathed like a good Stalinist, so sure, that would make perfect sense.
So stay tuned tonight, 9:00 p.m. EST, to see if MSNBC finally fesses up the WHOLE story, including how their former San Francisco affiliate station KRON promoted this sadistic cult in the early 1970s, and the way the San Francisco Examiner ran away from Jones and his law suit blustering enforcer, Tim Stoen.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat is virtually the only newspaper decades later to finally tell the authentic story of the Temple cult's terrorizing of Redwood Valley, California, in the 1960's and early 70's.
Will MSNBC have the guts and honesty to do the same tonight, as the Press Democrat did five years ago with this report?
FRIENDS' WARNINGS IGNORED
by Mike Geniella
Nov. 16, 2003
Twenty-five years have done nothing to diminish the anger of Brenda Ganatos and Nancy Busch.
The two women still get fighting mad about how Mendocino County officials and the local news media, and later their counterparts in San Francisco, turned a blind eye to the Rev. Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. Jones arrived in Mendocino County in 1965, and he and his followers quickly infiltrated the local political and government establishments.
Temple members worked at every level of local government, from the Social Services Department to the District Attorney’s Office. Jones was to repeat the pattern on an even grander scale when he moved on to San Francisco in the early 1970s.
“We can live with ourselves today because we know we did everything we could to try and stop this madman,” Ganatos said.
“Frankly, I still don’t understand how all those people who should have been concerned and weren’t can look themselves in the mirror today,” adds Busch.
Ganatos first learned of Jones and his Peoples Temple when some followers from Indiana moved in next door in the late 1960s.
“They were lovely people. I liked them, and helped get them settled,” said Ganatos.
But by 1970, Ganatos began to take note of persistent rumors about misconduct at the Redwood Valley church.
Ganatos went into action after hearing a story about a 4-year-old boy named Tommy. On a “survival training” camping trip, Jones allegedly forced the boy to eat his own vomit after he became ill at dinner.
“That was it. I couldn’t handle any more of these stories without doing something,” Ganatos said.
Ganatos and Busch organized about a dozen friends and co-workers into a group called “Concerned Citizens.”
The group began to plead with local and state law enforcement agencies and government officials to take notice of the many concerns that were being outlined to them by neighbors and former temple members. They included a litany of incidents at Jones’ Redwood Valley church, including armed guards, beatings, sexual abuse and financial wrongdoing.
Ganatos and Busch say they were rebuffed at every level of law enforcement, government, and the news media.
“We were dismissed as busybodies and kooks,” said Ganatos, a retired telephone company supervisor who now lives in Oregon.
Busch, who still lives in her Ukiah home, believes she was frequently put under surveillance by Jones, and said it wasn’t easy to be among the few who were publicly questioning a man so eagerly accepted by community leaders and the local political elite.
“We kept being reminded what good deeds Jones was doing on behalf of the poor and the elderly, and how he was so informed that a local judge decided to name him foreman of the county grand jury,” recalled Busch.
Finally, in 1972, a San Francisco Examiner religion writer — the Rev. Lester Kinsolving — took notice of Ganatos and Busch and their citizens’ group.
Kinsolving, working with an Indiana reporter who also was investigating Jones, soon wrote the first published stories in Northern California about a man he dubbed the “messiah from Ukiah.”
The response from Jones and Temple members was swift. They threw up a picket line around the Examiner building, and Jones’ lawyers threatened legal action. Four more Kinsolving articles were shelved.
It wasn’t until publication in 1977 of a damning article in New West magazine that media attention was revived in Jones and the temple’s surging influence in San Francisco politics.
“By then it was too late. The wheels were already in motion,” said Ganatos.
After the Jonestown mass murder-suicide in 1978, Ganatos and Busch received calls from reporters around the globe inquiring about the information they had gathered.
“It probably wasn’t very smart, but I used to snap at them and say, ‘Where were you then?’” Ganatos recalled.
How about that. These Redwood Valley residents fought to stop the cult LONG before the "Concerned Relatives" ever started making waves. Now what do you think are the odds that you'll hear even one word mentioned tonight, or any night, by our MSNBC about the valiant fight by the "Concerned Citizens"?
I'll predict it may have something do with them being rebuffed by not just all levels of local law enforcement and government, but just by a wild coincidence, our courageous, crusading media!
Anybody taking bets out there??
The horrendous consequences of our law enforcement, government, and media officials doing NOTHING--except backing up Jones as they were all backing away--until it was too late are all too obvious, as much as the disgrace of this California power elite in its attempt to keep it covered up.
Ponder this reality. Be devastated by the unbearable grief in this preview of "Witness To Jonestown." Know that it was all completely preventable.
Then dry your tears. Get angry.