Oregon Magazine
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The Black Jim Jones
  by Art Hyland, Contributing Editor

Jim Jones, for those who forgot or are unfamiliar with him, formed and led the 1970s “People’s Temple” congregation in San Francisco, 900 members of which committed mass suicide by willingly drinking poisoned Kool Aid at a sanctuary in South America.  The phrase “drunk the Kool Aid” was and is associated with this infamous incident. 

For several years before that incident, Jones was the hope and change leader of the political Left in California.  Thirty years ago his reputation and influence in California was no less than a 2007 Barack Obama.  Jones and Obama, two peas in a pod, to borrow the president’s recent vegetable analogy.  Obama, a “community organizer,” had ACORN** (see Note 1 at the bottom), and Jones had the People’s Temple.  The differences between their goals are minimal.

I’ll be your god

I lived nearby and worked in San Francisco during the time the People’s Temple existed there.  Anyone who lived in the area at the time could not help but notice the activities of their highly visible leader.  The media loved this man and his members, the majority of whom were Black.  They represented the “poor and disadvantaged,” and therefore were eagerly acquired as constituents by the California Democrat Party which dominated California then.  Because Jones could muster 300 to 400 people to appear at any rally or cause by just saying the word, his political force was legendary, and virtually every major California Democrat politician paid homage to him.  When President Carter came to town to visit, sitting right behind him was Jim Jones.  Jerry Brown, George Moscone and Wille Brown were among scores of liberal leaders who were gladly pictured with Jones as their ally and friend.  It was easy to see why. 

IPhoto: typical American liberal voter)

Jones represented everything Democrat politicians sought to become:  a person unquestioned, revered, and idolized by the common, poor person in the streets of San Francisco, and of course the media.  That he was White while so many of his members were Black highlighted the uniqueness of his abilities and persona.  “If you want me to be your friend, I’ll be your friend.  If you want me to be your father, I’ll be your father.  If you want me to be your god, I’ll be your god,” (he was somewhat more willing than Obama to admit messiah status).  Temple services weren’t Christian because the Bible was often mocked.  His message and speaking ability differed from Obama’s only because he never used a teleprompter.  Jones was a person the media and Democrats felt could transcend the world of racial differences and tensions thirty years before Obama was discovered for that purpose.  He brought hope and change to thousands who longed for social justice and equality, words that rang true to the fawning Democrats of the day.  The more things change the more they stay the same when you study Democrats.  

We now know that Jones was as shallow a person as one could find.  He preached purity but practiced the opposite.  He called for sharing all, but collected millions from members who donated everything they owned to his temple.  He lied and manipulated the throngs by, for example, staging fake, Jones’-commanded healings.  He was a charlatan by definition, but he had an army of true believers to sway doubters and help convert the ignorant.  By members becoming dependent upon the temple for their existence, Jones had absolute control over them.  Once members, resistance was futile. 

The connection

Fast forward to 2008.  “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.”  You know who said that in February of 2008.  And you know the degree to which so many followers have become enamored of the person who uttered those words.  Barack Obama was more than a presidential candidate, he became a rock star, a leader of leaders, a messiah.  He became a Black Jim Jones, only this time authentically Black (well, enough anyway).  For Democrat political history, it is deja vu all over again.

(Photo: Karl Marx)

And Kool Aid is being served as well:  his campaign motto, “hope and change, his socialism “spreading the wealth,” his references of taking from the rich and giving to the poor (increasing taxes), his nationalizing of industry (GM), his reverence toward absolute international rulers (Saudi Arabia, Venezuela), his affiliations with ‘the poor” type organizations (Acorn), his narcissistic personality (debating by crowing “I won”), his “do what I say not as I do” attitude (calling for “shared sacrifices” while he and his family vacation frequently and dine extravagantly), his egoism, (commanding leaders of co-equal branches, “I want [them] here at 11 AM”), and his penchant for spending money that wasn’t his on monuments to himself (Obamacare).  These examples may not be in the form of a cold drink, but they contain enough poison to kill a nation.  So far, he’s succeeding, and many gleefully swallowed his populist ideas.  

Democrats self-destruct to victory

Even though Jones literally killed himself, while Obama is merely killing his party while he kills the nation, the comparison of two Democrat figureheads is not the major lesson to learn.   It’s what can happen to the United States because of what did happen in California despite the damages each caused.  Hear me out.  In the mid seventies, for the first time in decades, conservatives were making gains and looking like they could become a possible majority in California politics.  But for Democrats, Jones’ was a go-to savior of many vulnerable campaigns.  Jones literally put George Moscone into the mayor’s spot in San Francisco.  The run-off election that his opponent vehemently claimed was won by non-residents bussed in by Jones, was in fact years later confirmed to have been stolen by that process (perhaps ACORN can trace their beginning to this period). 

Moscone’s near loss in what would traditionally be a sure win in Democrat San Francisco, coupled with the rise of other conservatives or causes in California (the successful property tax initiative Proposition 13 & Ronald Reagan comes to mind), meant that Democrats in California, long in legislative control in Sacramento, were looking very vulnerable.  A political sea change seemed inevitable (akin to the 2010 election results).  To make things even worse for the Democrats, their go-to spiritual, socialist, secular political leader Jim Jones (and hundreds of his members) abruptly departed San Francisco just as a New West magazine (interestingly owned by none other than an unknown Rupert Murdoch) was to publish an expose about the fraud and lies beneath the cloak of the People’s Temple and their leader.  And within the year, the mass suicide occurred, after which Democrats were doing hand springs disassociating themselves from Jones.  Even the media could not ignore the years of images showing Jones smiling next to every Democrat leader alive; there was nothing to do but lament the passing of the California Democrat era.

Lemonade from Kool Aid

But it was not to be in California:  the impossible happened, the inevitable stopped.  It was as if Jones came back from the dead.  Just ten days after the mass suicide, a Republican ex-cop/ex-SF supervisor named Dan White enters San Francisco City Hall and kills Democrats (mayor) George Moscone and (gay) supervisor Harvey Milk.  I was in the City when it happened, and I can tell you it was a tremendous shock to one and all, no matter if you paid any attention to politics before.  It was the day that Diane Feinstein, a relatively anonymous county supervisor and vice-mayor, suddenly became mayor, and a permanent politician.  Media coverage of the Jones massacre--the 900 dead women, children and families, and all the Democrat connections to the devastation--ceased immediately, and was virtually never heard of again.

(Photo: typical liberal politician)

Moscone and Milk became California martyrs akin to Bobby Kennedy ten years prior.  What was going to be a conservative resurgence disappeared in the confused media fog of San Francisco Bay:  a long-term Democrat association with a Jim Jones who killed nine hundred was instantly replaced by a short-term Republican association with a Dan White who killed two.  The California Democrat history of power and corruption was erased from memory, “reset” one might say, and the Democrats resumed their uninterrupted position from that time to the present.  Democrats like Feinstein, Pelosi, Stark, & Dellums marched right on to higher political power status, power they probably would never have seen but for the insane action of one individual tied to their opposition.

Memory is fleeting

What that entire period displayed was no matter how it appears, no matter how the momentum of politics looks to be tilting conservative, something can happen to alter it in favor of the march of liberalism.  A promising Tea Party-inspired return to smaller government, sane financial footing, less regulation, and a creative, prosperous economy can all be snuffed out just like the conservative movement back in 1978 California.

Look at events in Europe.  There is a bone fide movement to reverse or restrain the loss of European culture brought about by the non-assimilation of a fast-growing Muslim population.  From Merkle to Sarkosy to Gert Wilders (Netherlands), there is a movement to stop cultivating cultural diversity, and rekindle the idea of national and traditional identity.  Islamification is finally being recognized for the long-term cultural and political threat it represents to an aging, low birthrate Europe.

(graphic: the solution to American Marxism)

But, just like the actions by one conservative San Francisco crazed killer, a madman, loosely tied but media-advertised as right wing, recently killed 90 people in cold blood in Norway.  You now have the trappings of an emotional blockade of conservative political thought.  Anything hinting of right-wing is now suspect, while the left wing skates, with both public images “reset.”  Muslim terrorists, who have committed many atrocities, even in Europe itself, are elevated because this tragedy was created by a White European.  The political current changed.  The momentum to reinstate traditional (if not conservative) politics is likely broken, perhaps for good, or at least for a sustained amount of time.  Enough to alter the shape of European history.  It’s happened before (recall Archduke Ferdinand).  

American conservatism, the philosophy of smaller, Constitutionally-oriented government is extremely fragile in a world where a surprise event can “reset” the government to its 50-year default position of progressivism, socialism, and top down control.  The debt ceiling battle may very well be our Constitution’s Battle of the Bulge, led by Tea Party regulars.  Perhaps it’s best they ignore the political history in California, for they have plenty on their plate at the moment.  After all, California has become a shadow of its past because its Jones-linked Democrat leaders have led California itself to commit economic suicide.  So perhaps the real legacy of Jim Jones will be as simple as monkey see, monkey do, while serious adults take care of business in Washington D.C.

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**Note 1.   ACORN Mission Statement “
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"The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) aims to organize a majority constituency of low- to moderate-income people across the United States. The members of ACORN take on issues of relevance to their communities, whether those issues are discrimination, affordable housing, a quality education, or better public services. ACORN believes that low- to moderate-income people are the best advocates for their communities, and so ACORN's low- to moderate-income members act as leaders, spokespeople, and decision-makers within the organization.”

Author's correction: 8/6

Dan White ran on the Democrat ticket as a San Francisco supervisor.  He was always referred to as conservative in life, as well as now in death.  As a former law enforcement deputy, he came to the political scene opposing gay rights among other more conservative views.  The author regrets this error, but feels it does not disrupt the theme presented.

OMED comment on the above correction: (same date):

Re: "opposing gay rights"  For the record, conservatives such as those found in the Tea Parties, do not object to Gay Rights.  They believe all citizens of this country share the same Constitutional Rights.  What conservatives object to is "special rights" for anybody except the handicapped and members of the military.  Access to public buildings is special treatment for the handicapped, and must be done out of simple decency.  The military, we believe, has earned special or favored treatment because they perform the Constitution's Prime Directive by defending  this nation with their very lives. Conservatives also know when we are all being fed a line of "rights" B.S., because some politically-favored liberal voting bloc desires special, supra-constitutional protection or (usually financial) assistance.  Most modern "gay rights" fall under this latter designation. 
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Original text © 2011 Art Hyland