Harvey Milk and Jonestown

Something to remember on May 22

In 2009 Governor Schwarzenegger declared May 22 Harvey Milk Day. Some California parents, led by SaveCalifornia.com, disturbed that Milk may be held up as a role model, have elected to keep their children home from school on that day.

Objections to the holiday included Milk’s ongoing homosexual relationships with much younger men, documented in Randy Shilts’ biography of Milk The Mayor of Castro Street. At least one of these relationships would have been illegal had it taken place in California, where the age of consent is 18.

Perhaps more serious was Milk’s alliance with, and defense of, the Peoples Temple. The rise of Peoples Temple as a major political force was one of the biggest San Francisco stories in the 1970s, and the Jonestown massacre of November 18, 1978 was one of the biggest stories in American history. The Jonestown massacre, in which over 900 followers of the Reverend Jim Jones were either killed or forced to commit suicide, represented the largest single-day loss of civilian life in American history, natural disasters excluded, until 9/11.

That Jones was an ally of San Francisco/California politicians, including Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk was well-known, although California’s Democratic politicians would like it to be forgotten. Dan White’s murder of both Moscone and Milk nine days after the massacre probably prevented further investigations into the relationship.

However, some people do want to make sure Jonestown is not forgotten. The department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University sponsors a website devoted to keeping the memory of Peoples Temple alive. The site, www.jonestown.sdsu.edu, is a storehouse of memories, reflections, and news articles. Some are from relatives or friends of the victims of Jonestown, some are from former Peoples Temple members, some are from reporters who covered the events. The site tracks contemporary developments that have some bearing on the Peoples Temple.

In 2009, Volume 11 of the site’s Jonestown Report/templenews reported:

Perhaps the biggest story involving Peoples Temple in 2009 was its lack of mention in conjunction with the Oscar-nominated film, Milk. As noted in articles by Sylvia Marciniak and Will Savive in this year’s Jonestown Report, the movie biography of San Francisco Councilman Harvey Milk – who, along with Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated on November 27, 1978 – does not mention the deaths in Jonestown which had occurred nine days earlier. More difficult for a number of conservative columnists and television personalities was that the movie failed to mention Milk’s relationship of mutual respect with Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones.

Milk received two posthumous awards in August, 2009 – the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, and an announcement by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that Milk would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame in December – and Schwarzenegger signed a bill designating May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in California. As some of the same critics pointed out, none of the sponsors of these awards and proposal mentioned Jim Jones, Peoples Temple, or Jonestown in pressing for Milk’s recognition.

Should they have? Yes. As early as 1972-73, disturbing revelations from Peoples Temple cult members had appeared. By the mid-1970s reporters had begun serious investigations into the Temple. This did not prevent Milk from accepting Jim Jones’ help in his failed 1976 campaign to the state assembly. At the time, Randy Shilts quoted Milk as saying of the Peoples Temple “They’re weird and they’re dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side.”

Despite this statement, once he was elected supervisor, Milk hindered rather than helped efforts to rein in the temple. On February 19, 1978, Milk sent a letter to then-President Jimmy Carter praising Jones, and denouncing ongoing investigations against the temple. In the letter Milk called Jones “a man of the highest character.”

Given that he had called the temple “weird and dangerous” less than two years earlier, it must be concluded that Milk was telling an out-and-out lie. Further, he was lying about a life-and-death issue. The letter was sent to President Carter because concerns about the Peoples Temple, which had not been acted on in San Francisco, had grown so serious that Congress was becoming involved.

By that time Jones had moved a considerable portion of his congregation to Jonestown, Guyana. In the letter, Milk, a one-term supervisor from San Francisco, intimated to the president of the United States that congressional investigation of Jonestown would adversely affect diplomatic relations with Guyana. In November of that year, Congressman Leo Ryan (not from San Francisco) did lead an investigative delegation to Jonestown, where he was shot and killed by Jones’ assassins.

In the Jonestown Report article mention above, author Silvia Marciniak noted the airbrushing of Harvey Milk. She began “After the film, Milk, was released this year, I began to think that those who died in Jonestown did die in vain….”

 

READER COMMENTS

Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 6:34 AM By JLS
This article claims that the Jonestown death toll was the largest single day toll save 9/11 in US history … hmn … What about Pearl Harbor with its single day death toll of 2402. But now that there is a disgusting harvey milk sodomy day maybe soon there will be a Jonestown suicide day.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 6:54 AM By Life Lady
I am not at all surprised that the mainstream media are conveniently ignoring the connection between the death of the people in Jonestown and the killing of Milk and Moscone. Those dots are soooo huge, they beg to be connected, but I see that the mainstream media is doing it’s job and ignoring them. I imagine that those dots are weighing heavily on Milk, wherever he happens to be at present, and I am thankful that the innocent and duped people who died that day in Guyana are still remembered. Prayers for their souls are in order.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 7:32 AM By markrite
And so the beat goes on. Those who do not learn from history and its awful mistakes and crimes are bound to REPEAT THEM. Such is history in the making if the forces of the WICKED OBAMANATION CABAL are not recognized for who they REALLY ARE. If re-elected, “the one” will be EMBOLDENED to carry out his sinister machinations re turning the U.S.A. into a european-based socialist utopia, probably like the Mitterand model of yore, replete with the concept of “socialism with a human face” (AT FIRST) THE GLOVES WILL COME OFF LATER when their PLANNED TERROR takes hold. Yeah, certainly, shades of Jim Jones and the noxious Harvey Milk. God bless all, MARKRITE


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:33 AM By Anne T.
Thank you! thank you! Cal Catholic for having the courage to tell the truth about this so-called hero of the left. The truth is that he was willing to and did deal with the Devil to get what he wanted. Dan White should not have taken things into his hands and murdered or killed him, but when the local leaders are so corrupt and incompetent such things often happen. City Hall was, for the most part, a pit of vipers back then in San Francisco and still is. Only now it has spread to the much of the state.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:58 AM By Clemmie
Thanks for bringin this up. The MSM completely ignores Milk’s support of Jones. As they ignore Willie Brown’s, George Moscone’s and Jerry Brown’s love of Jones. Even St. Jackie Speier, who was shot at Jonestown, refuses to condemn these cheap politicians. This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:52 AM By Karen Lamb
JLS: the article stated:”represented the largest single-day loss of civilian life in American history, natural disasters excluded, until 9/11.” I believe that the vast majority of those noble souls lost at Pearl Harbor were valiant members of the US Military.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:59 AM By Gregorian
JLS, I believe the distinction was civilian death toll. All of this demonstrates the danger of manufacturing heroes to suit an agenda. Once again, the church’s wisdom shines forth. The church doesn’t canonize anyone without buckets of evidence and multiple miracles.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 11:41 AM By Catherine
Instead of Jonestown, Guyana should properly warn San Diego and attribute the location where the 915 bodies were found by renaming this place of death Harvey Milk’s Town.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 1:05 PM By jp
Agents of death and lies: abortion, “homosexuality”, suicide…destroying mothers, fathers, and humanity and calling it freedom.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:40 PM By Brian S
JLS, not just Pearl Harbor, but many days of war have had higher death tolls than Jonestown. For example, at the battle of Antetam, September 17, 1862, over 3600 Americans were killed.


Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:07 PM By JLS
Also, Brian S., Gettysburg saw several thousands die in three days; Lepanto saw over ten thousand die in one day; Battle of Borodino (French and Russian) 73,000 in one day; Somme 19,240 British troops killed the first day; 12,000 Allied troops died on D-Day at Normandy; 3654 deaths at Antietam; 70,000 at Hiroshima; 2335 Pearl Harbor; 2973 9/11; 25,000 Dresden; and many more one day mortalities in battles in history. I recall reading in a book by Warren Carroll that the first three months of WWI cost 3 million lives. Every day in the USA today, 4000 lives are lost to abortion, and the same number of people on our globe die each day from starvation. Mostly starvation is caused by rulers diverting food supplies; mostly abortion is caused by people who have nothing better to do.


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 5:10 AM By Bob Bugiada
Please! May 22 is my birthday. I even wrote to Gov. Schwartzenegger begging him not to corrupt this date by associating it with Harvey Milk, but to no avail.


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 2:52 PM By Anne T.
JLS, the horror of this all is that these people were willing to follow this man who claimed to be a minister of the Lord to their deaths, not for good but for evil. According to some sites Jim Jones even asked these people to sign papers that they had committed certain criminal behaviors if they had done so, and some were willing to give up their Constitutional rights and sign such self-incriminating statements. Later Jones would threatened those who had signed such things with turning them over to the authorities if they left his church. Eveidently, not all the people at Jonestown were totally “innocent” of crimes, but still he had no right to force them to commit suicide, but it seems some would have faced criminal charges if they had not “drank the Kool Aide”. It was a whole bloody mess with many of the leaders of San Francisco even defending Jones after he and the people at Jonestown were dead. It was just insane! Even the Carters were fooled by this man. No wonder Carter lost the next election with his handling of the Iran crisis and the Jonestown scandal.


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 4:11 PM By Anne T.
These were all Democrats, too, including the Senator who went to Jonestown to investigate the whole mess, and they were wiping each other off the planet. Talk about hard-ball politics!


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 4:47 PM By Maryanne Leonard
Bob Bugiada, it would distress me too to have my birthday corrupted like that, but think of it this way: on any given day, a lot of people are born, die, get married, graduate from their studies, write a book, get divorced, have a baby, murder someone . . . and none of it has stopped the Lord God from having sent you to this earthly home on May 22, which is a day to celebrate and your special birthday forever more. No one can take away that fact. It is precious in the eyes of God, in the eyes of your mother and father, and of value to everyone in your entire circle of family and friends. It is even important to the Draft Board (when there is one), to the Medicaire people, the Social Security folks, and to those who decide when you get to vote, have to retire, and can start taking money out of your IRA. So don’t worry, it’s a day that is sacrosanct and remains intact. Oh, and by the way, if you wrote recently, we have another “Catholic” governor in Sacramento now to whom you might address your pleas, most of which, we have found, go ignored, but one can only try, right?


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 7:34 PM By JLS
Birthdays: I feel blessed that my eleven something yellow lab mom was born on January 22, the March for Life day.


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:28 PM By Anne T.
Many of those people whom Jim Jones encouraged to sign statements that they had committed crimes, may not have been guilty of anything. Perhaps they signed such papers to get food or housing. Only God knows now. Nevertheless, Jim Jones used it against them, whether they were guilty or not. What an evil, evil man he was.


Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:34 PM By Anne T.
Bob Buglada, there were many Catholic saints born or died on your birthday, May 22, and I pray you become one of them. Have no fear; you are in good company.


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:21 AM By Westlake Boy
Saint Rita of Cascia, ora pro nobis! “Saint” Harvey was unfortunately assigned my daughter’s name day. The Saint of the Impossible, though, seems an apt coincidence given the state of disarray in the State of California today. Just yesterday, a friend told me her daughter’s 6th grade public school class would be learning soon how to put condoms on a wooden dowel. I told her to keep her daughter at home that day and that things would be worse for her son when he “comes of age” in the schools.


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:02 AM By OverYourLies
I thought Jesus was about love and finding common ground with others to help and do good for those in need. People are hungry and ill, so why would you waste your energy, and responsibly to help, on spreading lies and promoting hate. Shame on you. What a waste.


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:20 AM By ProLogic
This is a fine how-do-you-do from the organization that affiliated itself with the Nazis during WWII, which resulted in the deaths of millions. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, California Catholics!


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:20 PM By Anne T.
Pro Logic, it was the Nazis, not the Church, who encouraged abortions, forced sterilizations, tattoing of the Jewish people and others, and the euthanization or aborting of “imperfect” people such as those with Downs Symdrome, and it is those who go against Church teaching who all doing all that today. And,Over Your LIes, you are the only one lying here. Jesus Christ never found common ground with sin, and love it is about doing what is right not just a platitude.


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 5:16 PM By Exposer1234
No one said that Catholics were directly responsible, but if you’re going to suggest that Harvey Milk was responsible for the deaths at Jonestown, as evidenced in this ridiculous article, then the Catholics are even more guilty for the deaths of millions during WWII by the Nazi party. For example, here are some historical facts on Pope Pius, who was clearly not against the Nazis. Although informed of the massive Nazi attacks of synagogues and Jewish business in on Kristallnacht, the pope issued no criticism. Although informed of Nazi atrocities in Austria, Lithuania, Poland, Spain and the Ukraine — including deportations to death camps — from 1940-1943 — he made no public comments. He only condemned Hitler once, coincidentally one month after WWII ended. He refused to join a resolution of the Allies condemning the Nazi crimes after the war. He never excommunicated any Nazi,” although he did excommunicate some German Catholics who supported cremation as an alternative to burial. He never declared it a sin for Catholics to participate with the Nazis with regard to the death camps. Furthermore, Pius is but one of many Catholic officials who were affiliated with the Nazis and let millions of innocent people die, such as the current pope and a former member of Hilter youth. Try reading a history book for a change. You’ve been brainwashed.


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 7:10 PM By Dana
Save your breath, Anne T. Every so often a mindless dive bomber flies by and drops a stink bomb and then buzzes off to some other site, probably Jewish or Muslim to load on them as well. Anyone of faith is fair game to that type. My mother would have called him a nincompoop, but I’m above that. wink wink


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 9:21 PM By max
“Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 7:34 PM By JLS Birthdays: I feel blessed that my eleven something yellow lab mom was born on January 22, the March for Life day.” JLS, your mother was a yellow Labrador Retriever? then you can’t be all bad, doggone it….


Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:36 PM By Maryanne Leonard
Poor ProLogic, so misguided, misinformed, and unaware of the most recent facts unearthed about Catholics in general and our great Pope Pius XII specifically, who was much maligned for many years until the facts came out, proving him secretly a great hero and protector of human life and the Catholic Church. When I think of all the Catholics from many Allied nations who fought, suffered and died in WW II, countless numbers at the hands of Nazi’s, fighting Hitler and Mussolini in Europe, I feel a wound to read such lies as those of ProLogic. How sad that our great religion has been so maligned when the vast majority of actions taken in the name of the faith have been for the greater good, and the few errors are held up for centuries as “proof” that those who are followers of the faith are evil incarnate. What kind of twisted minds would arrive at such incorrect conclusions, and what sort of evil would cause someone to post such lies? Why do we keep reading this drivel on this site? Do we plead in vain for better blocking of the Catholic-bashing trolls and less blocking of our own posts? What purpose does the printing of lies and slander serve at all, let alone on a Catholic site?


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 10:06 AM By Anne T.
Thank you, Dana, for your good advice, and you are right. Some of these same Anti-catholic posters whill go on to try to outlaw Jewish rituals on other sites, such as circumcision for boys as long as it done by competed people. And Dana, I believe it was during World War II that Archbishop Sheen wrote his Military Prayerbook, and Pope Pius hid hundreds of Jews in Rome, right under the Nazis’s noses.


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 11:19 AM By k
Exposer1234, no. You have gotten your infornation from a biased source. Now, Catholic sources will be biased, also. Try Rabbi David Dalin’s article “Pius XII and the Jews”.


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 1:40 PM By Abeca Christian
Dana lol


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 2:02 PM By Anne T.
Thank you, K, for the recommendation. They have quite a debate going on at Amazon about this book, and it should be a good read.


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 2:35 PM By JLS
max, yes, I have gone to the dogs. And, yes, old Juniper is my mother, but I am not her son, if that makes any sense to you. She tossed 26 puppies. Main thing I learned is that pregnant women should not eat too much or else their babies will be huge … probably why there are a lot of C-sections these days. But I also learn many other valuable life lessons from this ol’ canine mama. Emotionally, she’s just like the Bob Dylan song, “Just Like a Woman”, at least as far as the song title, since I don’t recall what it says about women … could be all wet behind the ears as far as I know. But Li’l Juni is a model for observing how much mother’s naturally love to have babies and care for them. There is much more that I have learned from her, but you’d have to live it to understand it … beyond the capacity of written language to get at, which is obviously why I’ve never read of it or heard of it. Great composers have replicated it … the sounds, music, language and harmony of nature.


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 2:42 PM By JLS
E’1234, your points would mean that that Pope never spoke or wrote a word. I’ve never heard him called the silent pope. Many there are whose ears are shut tight, eyes are closed against the smallest ray of light, and blame everyone else for their own fight. BTW, Ecstasy1234, why do people like you continue to blame others who had nothing to do with the Nazis, the Hollocaust, WWII or anything else related to them? All you really are doing is deceiving whomever you can, and for what motive? Greed, immorality, tyranny … you solve your own problem if it pops up again. Don’t ask others to do so … again.


Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 4:36 PM By Mark from PA
It should be noted that before Hitler came to power in Germany, Catholics were not allowed to belong to the Nazi party as it was considered racist. In 1937, Pope Pius XI wrote the encyclical “Mit Brennender Sorge” which was read in German Catholic Churches on Palm Sunday. Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, had a part in the writing of this encyclical. The encyclical condemned Nazism as racist and incompatible with Catholic Christianity. The Nazi government retaliated against the Church by shutting down printing presses and Catholic publications. The also had show trials of homosexual priests, many of whom were imprisoned and lost their lives. After the persecution of the Dutch Catholic Church due to criticism of the Nazis by Dutch bishops, Pope Pius XII pretty much kept silence in regard to the Nazis. Some of this may be due to his fear of Hitler and the Nazis and also a belief the Stalin and the Communists were more of a threat to the Catholic Church. On a personal level, I feel that Pope Pius XII should have done more to speak out against the persecution of the Catholic Church in Poland and the murder of many Polish priests by Nazi Germans. Pope Pius XII did save the lives of many Italian Jews and worked behind the scenes to help them but it seems that he was very cautious about being too outspoken against the Nazi Germans after the start of World War II.

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