Monday, November 15, 2010
Cult Expert On Jonestown: "A Mass Mentality 'Manchurian Candidate' That Killed The Enemy On Demand"
Something very ironic about all this.
With the impending anniversary of that unspeakable tragedy over 30 years ago, I'm thinking about that infamous sign.
You know the one.
We've all seen the assorted photos of the gruesome aftermath of the Temple Planning Commission executioners' handiwork. This one, however, is particularly chilling.
It's right there hanging over "Father's" throne, empty cause the occupant was sprawled nearby on the pavilion floor. He was too much the coward to have that hideously painful cyanide forcibly injected into him, as more than 80 percent of the people had. No, Jones took the easy exit with a bullet through the head.
He looked so pathetic in his death portrait. Eyes wide open, no longer concealed by those menacing sunglasses. Silenced at long last. Tragically, however, not in time to stop him and his gang of mass murderers from carrying out their own Final Solution.
Jim Jones, despite all his perversions and sick Stalinist mania, still had it right with philosopher George Santayana's creed that "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It's something that spans across all realms.
That's the irony: Too many have still not learned the lessons of the past. The madness of crazies like this, running cults from the smallest to the largest, religious, secular, commercial, political, even one-on-one, continues unabated to this day. As do the cult apologists that keep on trying to somehow rehabilitate the Peoples Temple. Santayana's prophecy lives on.
Ex-Temple member Laura Kohl is just one of the many desperately wanting to put a fresh, glowing face on this, one of the most destructive cults in history. Maybe like the others, she's doing it in a sad quest for atonement.
"What happened then," claims Kohl, "was the fusion of all of our spirits, our hopes and our hard work--into a New World--a Heaven on Earth. We didn't know it was possible, and it seeped into our souls and hearts. What we created was more than we could have dreamed about. We grew into a greatness well beyond what we could have done individually."
How does someone descend to this level of denial over something that was a perfect Hell on Earth? The answer probably rests in the syndrome of well-meaning people falling prey to brain washing that sometimes remains long after they've departed the cult.
Renowned expert Dr. Phillip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment that presented vivid proof of the power that a super-charged controlled environment has on behavior. In 2005, he authored a paper entitled "Mind control in Orwell’s 1984: Fictional concepts become operational realities in Jim Jones’ jungle experiment.”
In his findings, Zimbardo drew from many sources corroborating how this was accomplished, along with exposing the shocking dichotomy between the Hellish reality of Jonestown and the "Heavenly" fantasies still entertained by the survivors of the death camp.
One of the most ghastly testimonies came from former member Debbie Layton, as described in a book by another member, Jeanne Mills:
"Mills describes other torture chambers in PT. 'Debbie (Layton) told us about Bigfoot, a punishment that had replaced the Blue-Eyed Monster. It’s a deep well about forty-five minutes’ walk away from the camp,’ she said sadly. ‘Counselors have to sit in there, and when the child is disciplined they throw the child down the well.
The kids would cry hysterically as soon as Jim would tell them they’d have to go visit Bigfoot. We’d hear them scream all the way there, and all the time they had to be down in the well, and by the time they got back they were begging for mercy. It was really awful. Some young people were forced to eat hot peppers or even have hot peppers put up their rectums as disciplines.”
So much for Kohl's notion about "growing into greatness."
Dr. Zimbardo's research blew apart such delusions. His analysis was thorough and devastating, revealing how much the spirit of Big Brother suffocated anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in the Jonestown Gulag.
"Obedience training, Newspeak, Crimestop, Doublethink, Reality Control, Emotional Control, sexual control, surveillance, hard work on starvation diets – the staples of the Orwellian Mind Controller’s repertoire – were adapted and put into effective operation by Jim Jones in his attempt to demonstrate total behavior modification beyond anything that MK-ULTRA had ever achieved. Jones succeeded in his perverted mind control 'experiment' by creating a mass mentality 'Manchurian Candidate' that killed the Enemy on demand, only the Enemy was one’s children, one’s parents, one’s mate, one’s friends, one’s self.
I believe that Orwell would not have been pleased to see his warning about the dangers of a totalitarian state acted out by a latter-day disciple in the jungles of Guyana, and then recently reenacted by destructive cult leaders in many other countries, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, and Uganda, all extracting the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of domination of free will, of individuality, of critical thought, and of the spirit of independence."
Of course, a horde of "New Religious Movements" (NRM) academics infesting universities across the land are hell-bent on not yielding even one inch to Zimbardo or any other expert that exposes cult dynamics and their horrifying consequences. They never fail to rush to defend cults as fast as five year olds running to the sound of an ice cream truck.
We'll give them their due before Thursday. Until then, there's nothing quite like the illuminating power of a dramatization. Sometimes they're way off target. Film maker Stanley Nelson's purported documentary "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple" was about as twisted a piece of cult apologist propaganda as they come.
On the other hand, straight fictional works can sometimes undo the damage by NRM puff pieces. "When you blindly give up your free will to a higher authority," warns the narrator in this 2001 Outer Limits episode, "be sure you are not also giving up control of your ultimate destiny."
Entitled "A New Life," this 45 minute eye-opener is well worth the time and attention (forgive the occasional commercial interruptions.) The alien theme provides the perfect metaphor. Please pay close attention to the dialogue. And should you just happen to wonder if there's any striking similarities with the Peoples Temple, you're right on target.
Afterward, you'll likely be wary of any and all cult apologists--who knows, they could very well be on a mission from another planet.....