Guyana: Jonestown tragedy remains a cautionary tale 40 years later – By Mohamed Hamaludin

Jonestown was in the Northwest District of Guyana, located between Port Kaituma and Matthews Ridge.

I don’t believe I ever met the Rev. Jim Jones in person but the story of the man who established the Peoples Temple of Love in Indiana in 1955, relocated his followers to a South American jungle, then led more than 950 men, women and children to their deaths on Saturday, Nov. 18, 1978, continues to haunt me 40 years later.

Claiming political and media persecution, Jones moved his followers — more than three in four African American — from San Francisco to my native Guyana, believing it to be among the safest places for radiation fallout in the supposedly coming nuclear war. The Guyana government, fearing invasion by nearby Venezuela over a border dispute, saw advantage in having an American presence in the disputed territory.      

Jones chose the Port Kaituma area about 120 miles from Georgetown, where he and his followers carved out a settlement, Jonestown, accessible mainly  by a seven-mile dirt road leading to a small dirt airstrip. They built homes and cultivated produce under the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project.  Jones also maintained a base at a house in Georgetown, where a small number of his followers, including his only natural son, Stephan, lived, and another in San Francisco, all linked by shortwave radio.

Jungle utopia

His hopes for a jungle utopia freed from the world seemed on the way to being fulfilled. But he could not escape his past in California, where the media widely believed the Peoples Temple was not a church but a cult. The illusion was shattered when Leo Ryan, a California congressman, went calling. Ryan’s legislative counsel, Jackie Speier, told Roll Call that her boss wanted to check first-hand into constituents’ complaint that all was not well in Jonestown. He led a 24-person delegation to Guyana that included Speier and a handful of journalists and, after keeping him waiting two days, Jones approved the visit which took place on Friday, Nov. 17, 1978.

I was the Guyana reporter for the now defunct Caribbean News Agency (CANA) and more than eager to cover this big story. Speier gave the OK but, at the last minute, I was bumped from the plane to make way for a Guyana government information officer.

The next time I heard of Ryan was in a phone call from my editor, Hubert Williams, in Barbados, early that Sunday morning — when I was battling the flu and a high fever. Williams explained that the State Department had issued a statement saying that Ryan and several members of his delegation had been killed.

I would not sleep for the next 72 hours.

After the killings, the government sealed off the settlement because of reports, which turned out to be false, that an armed team from Jonestown was on the loose. It was not until the next day that journalists were allowed in. The late Shirley Field-Ridley, then Minister of Information, picked me as the pool reporter to write stories for the Caribbean media and Charles Krouse, then with The Washington Post, for the international press. We arrived to a scene not exactly out of a horror movie and not bloody but one filled still with the silent kind of horror that takes some time to sink in, with even greater effect.

Deadly concoction

In front of me lay the bodies of, it would emerge, more than 950 men and women and including 300 children, some stacked more than four deep. A man and a woman lay face down, their arms stretched across a child.  I saw Jim Jones – for the first time, I believe – on his back, a bullet wound to the temple, a handgun close by. Near the steps of their makeshift temple lay his wife Marceline.

Not far off stood an oil drum, cut in half, that still contained what turned out to be a deadly concoction of fruit drink laced with cyanide and anti-anxiety drugs. Later reports indicated the adults first squirted it into the mouths of the very young before drinking the poison. People magazine reported this June that defectors said Jones coaxed his followers to drink, admitting the brew contained cyanide but adding, “It’s not going to taste bad.” It is still not certain whether they were forced to do so at gunpoint in a mass murder or collectively agreed to mass suicide.

Jones was the only one among the dead who was shot but a few young women “aides” were found with shotgun wounds in one of the houses, according to those who saw them. The fact that the gun was a short distance from Jones’ body still fuels speculation that he was killed.

An open leather briefcase lay on the ground full of American passports, now in police custody.

I walked among the dead for a while and then just sat down on a tree stump and gazed in disbelief as I pondered on what in the psyche of some human beings would lead to this.

First byline

The government sent a smaller plane for the return trip and some of us had to wait until the morning but Krouse made it out.  I spent the night at a nearby police station, where I was allowed to use the radio to file my story. I dictated it to my wife Enid at our home because the radio could not reach Barbados, where my editor was based. She then phoned it to him. So while Krouse was still in the air, I was getting the first byline on a story that was of worldwide interest.

Larry Layton, a Jonestown member, was being held in a cell just below the sleeping area and he ranted at the top of his voice the entire night, so I did not get to interview him. But, the next morning, I met and interviewed the only other immediate survivors, both elderly African Americans — a woman who told me she slept through the chaos of the night before and  a man who said as Jones was persuading his followers that death was the only way out, he unobtrusively slipped away and hid in a dugout.

I also interviewed the district medical officer, who had rushed to the scene. He read off to me a list of powerful drugs found in the settlement that were most likely used to keep the people sedated and also to make the deadly mixture in the half-drum.

By the time I was back in Georgetown, the story was being pieced together further. Speier recalled in the Roll Call story published on Nov. 18, 2015, that at Jonestown Ryan and his delegation were treated to entertainment while Jones’ followers were being interviewed. She said someone surreptitiously passed a note to NBC News reporter Don Harris which said some wanted to leave. Any façade of normalcy began to collapse but all was not yet lost.

Revolutionary death

Jones said anyone wanting to leave was free to do so and they were driven with Ryan and his team to the airstrip. They would need two flights to take them all. Speier recalled that as she was getting people on board the first plane, a Guyanese child ran up to her. (Several dozen of them were in Jonestown to attend the school which Jones ran.) As Speier was trying to coax the child to leave, she said, a tractor-trailer drove up and shooting began at point blank range. “People ran into the bush. I followed Ryan under the plane and hid under one of the wheels,” she said.

Ryan, shot in the head, Harris and three others were dead. Speier was hit five times, spent two months in hospital and underwent 10 surgeries.

Later news reports filled in the blanks. Ryan had seemed impressed with Jonestown even after several members wanted to leave. But a Jonestown follower lunged at him with a knife and cut him in the arm. The damage was done; an attempt was made on a congressman’s life.

Jones evidently realized this and prepared his followers for the worst. Some reports said while Ryan and his delegation and the defectors were on the way to the airstrip, he called his followers to the meeting place and told them he prayed for a miracle and Ryan’s plane would fall out of the sky.

Apparently a handgun was hidden under a seat behind the pilot and Layton reportedly was to sit there and shoot him, causing the plane to crash. But the gun was discovered and Layton was apprehended. Jones then went into his final sermon.  People magazine reported survivors as saying he saw death as a “revolutionary” act and that, “If we can’t live in peace, then let’s die in peace.”

Soviet embassy

Jones dispatched a hit squad which shot Ryan and others. In the Georgetown location, on receiving a kill code, a mother had another follower slit the throats of her two daughters while she held them down and then herself.

Survivors Tim Carter, then 30, and his brother Mike Carter, 20, and  Mike Prokes, 31, helped me understand further what happened. A Jones aide, Maria Katsaris, had instructed them to take a briefcase containing an estimated $500,000 and “two or three notes” to the Soviet embassy in Georgetown. That opened another intriguing angle to the tragedy. Apparently Jones was worried that the Guyana government planned to expel him and he was planning to relocate, once again, this time to the then Soviet Union.

The Carters and Prokes eventually encountered a policeman, who took them into custody, and they finally ended up at a Georgetown hotel.

“I don’t know how history would judge Jim Jones,” Tim Carter told me at the time. “What happened was grotesque, totally unnecessary and a waste. But the story of Peoples Temple is such a complex one, so many different variables involved, leading to this final act of insanity.”

Mike Carter blamed “isolation” for the tragedy, saying it was one of its main weaknesses.  Tim agreed: “Jones so isolated himself that he lost his perspective.”

Prokes said Jones had been making a genuine effort to create something worthwhile but it failed because of “a conspiracy” to destroy him and his movement.

Immeasurable grief

The three men said none of Jones’ followers expected to die. “There is 60,000 board feet of lumber now lying on the Port Kaituma dock,” said Tim. “You don’t order 60,000 board feet of lumber if you are going to die.”

 “You don’t spend $7 million on a project, a model community, and then kill yourself,” Prokes added.

By the end, 50 cottages had been built, with seven couples living in each, and plans to construct another 150, eventually having only two couples per house.

 The Carters and Prokes told of immeasurable grief as they got ready to carry out their mission. Tim Carter said as he went to say goodbye to his wife Gloria, “She was kneeling on the ground and she was holding our son and I saw tears flowing down her cheeks. I don’t know, I can’t imagine, what was going through her head. I came up to her and looked down and said, ‘Our son is dead.’ I leaned over and hugged her and said, ‘I love you so much. I love you. I love you. I love you.” Gloria then went into convulsions and fell next to their 18-month-old child.

Mike Carter said his wife Jocelyn, 20, and their 15-month-old daughter also died. So too did the Carters’ sister Terry and  Prokes’ adopted son Randy, 3.

Jonestown finally ended for Prokes in a Modesto, Calif., hotel four months later. According to the website Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple, maintained by San Diego State University,  he called a press conference, read a statement, went into the bathroom, closed the door, turned on the faucet and shot himself in the head.

  A note found next to Prokes’ body read, “Don’t accept anyone’s analysis or hypothesis that this was the result of despondency over Jonestown. I could live and cope with despondency. Nor was it an act of a ‘disturbed’ or ‘programmed’ mind – in case anyone tries to pass it off as that. The fact is that a person can rationally choose to die for reasons that are just, and that’s just what I did. If my death doesn’t prompt another look at what brought about the end of Jonestown, then life wasn’t worth living anyway.”

Possible CIA involvement

Speier told Roll Call that the State Department should have paid more attention to Jonestown, especially after Layton’s sister Debbie, who fled the settlement, told the U.S. embassy in Georgetown that there were problems at the settlement.

Speier added, “There were some that had suggested that the CIA was somehow involved and they didn’t want that to be exposed.”  I too had heard similar speculation. Speier, who was elected to Ryan’s congressional seat in 2008 and is on the House Intelligence Committee, said she requested the Jonestown documentation. “It does not appear that that was the case. And I don’t know,” she added. “But it does seem like it was mishandled on a number of levels.”

Speier said the State Department “could benefit from doing a case study” of Jonestown, loosely quoting the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, “If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re condemned to repeat them” — which, ironically, was written in bold letters on a sign nailed to the Jonestown meeting place.

I returned to Jonestown a week later. The produce garden was a bit less green and there was, ironically, a sign warning that fertilizer had been applied. A towering windmill still whirred overhead. Strewn around the settlement were hundreds of pieces of paper with expressions of affection for Jones written by his followers.

The bodies still lay in the hot tropical sun, decomposing now as the Guyanese and American governments squabbled about responsibility for burying them, until they were eventually taken to now Cheddi Jagan International Airport to be flown to Dover Air Force Base. At the airport, I saw Jones for the second time, his body now in a crude box on which was scribbled “Jimmye Jones”.

The American cult leader who fled San Francisco with his followers to escape perceived media persecution for a country he believed safe from radiation fallout in a coming nuclear war was on the way home.

————

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who  worked for several years at The Chronicle in the 1970s and in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating to the United States in 1984 where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every two or three weeks for The South Florida Times in which the above feature first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com.

###

Reporter’s 1978 account of deadly ambush, Jonestown tragedy

By TIM REITERMAN – 

Forty years ago this week, a California congressman and a group of journalists traveled to South America to see Jonestown, a remote settlement created by an American church, and investigate reports of abuses of members.

As the visitors prepared to return to the U.S., Peoples Temple gunmen ambushed them on a jungle airstrip, killing the congressman, Leo Ryan; three newsmen; and a church defector. The shooting triggered the mass murders and suicides in Jonestown of more than 900 people orchestrated by the Rev. Jim Jones.

ThenSan Francisco Examiner reporter Tim Reiterman was wounded in the airstrip shooting and flown to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where he wrote the following eyewitness account. It appeared in the Examiner on Nov. 20, 1978, two days after the tragedy:

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  • Clyde Duncan  On November 15, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Jackie Speier, Legislative counsel for California congressman, Leo Ryan, said the State Department “could benefit from doing a case study” of Jonestown, loosely quoting the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, “If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re condemned to repeat them” — which, ironically, was written in bold letters on a sign nailed to the Jonestown meeting place.

    40-years later … Therefore, What Have We Learnt?

    This neuroscientist details the 14 distinct cognitive flaws that lead people to become hard-core Trump supporters – These people would follow Trump off a cliff.

    Bobby Azarian / Raw Story

    While dozens of psychologists have analyzed Trump, to explain the man’s political invincibility, it is more important to understand the minds of his staunch supporters.

    This list will begin with the more benign reasons for Trump’s intransigent support, and as the list goes on, the explanations become increasingly worrisome, and toward the end, border on the pathological.

    It should be strongly emphasized that not all Trump supporters are racist, mentally vulnerable, or fundamentally bad people.

    It can be detrimental to society when those with degrees and platforms try to demonize their political opponents or paint them as mentally ill when they are not.

    That being said, it is just as harmful to pretend that there are not clear psychological and neural factors that underlie much of Trump supporters’ unbridled allegiance.

    The psychological phenomena described below mostly pertain to those supporters who would follow Trump off a cliff.

    These are the people who will stand by his side no matter what scandals come to light, or what sort of evidence for immoral and illegal behavior surfaces.

    1. Practicality Trumps Morality

    For some wealthy people, it’s simply a financial matter. Trump offers tax cuts for the rich and wants to do away with government regulation that gets in the way of businessmen making money, even when that regulation exists for the purpose of protecting the environment.

    Others, like blue-collared workers, like the fact that the president is trying to bring jobs back to America from places like China.

    Some people who genuinely are not racist (those who are will be discussed later) simply want stronger immigration laws because they know that a country with open borders is not sustainable. These people have put their practical concerns above their moral ones.

    To them, it does not matter if he’s a vagina-grabber, or if his campaign team colluded with Russia to help him defeat his political opponent.

    It is unknown whether these people are eternally bound to Trump in the way others are, but we may soon find out if the Mueller investigation is allowed to come to completion.

    2. The Brain’s Attention System Is More Strongly Engaged by Trump

    According to a study that monitored brain activity while participants watched 40 minutes of political ads and debate clips from the presidential candidates, Donald Trump is unique in his ability to keep the brain engaged.

    While Hillary Clinton could only hold attention for so long, Trump kept both attention and emotional arousal high throughout the viewing session.

    This pattern of activity was seen even when Trump made remarks that individuals didn’t necessarily agree with. His showmanship and simple language clearly resonate with some at a visceral level.

    3. America’s Obsession with Entertainment and Celebrities

    Essentially, the loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction with entertainment and reality TV.

    To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With the Donald, you are always left wondering what outrageous thing he is going to say or do next. He keeps us on the edge of our seat, and for that reason, some Trump supporters will forgive anything he says. They are happy as long as they are kept entertained.

    4. “Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn.”

    Some intelligent people who know better are supporting Trump simply to be rebellious or to introduce chaos into the political system.

    They may have such distaste for the establishment and democrats like Hillary Clinton that their support for Trump is a symbolic middle finger directed at Washington.

    These people do not have their priorities straight, and perhaps have other issues, like an innate desire to troll others, or a deranged obsession with schadenfreude.

    Science has unequivocally shown that the conservative brain has an exaggerated fear response when faced with stimuli that may be perceived as threatening.

    A 2008 study in the journal Science found that conservatives have a stronger physiological reaction to startling noises and graphic images compared to liberals.

    A brain-imaging study published in Current Biology revealed that those who lean right politically tend to have a larger amygdala — a structure that is electrically active during states of fear and anxiety.

    And a 2014 fMRI study found that it is possible to predict whether someone is a liberal or conservative simply by looking at their brain activity while they view threatening or disgusting images, such as mutilated bodies.

    Specifically, the brains of self-identified conservatives generated more activity overall in response to the disturbing images.

    These brain responses are automatic and impulsive, and not influenced by logic or reason.

    As long as Trump continues his fear mongering by constantly portraying Muslims and Hispanic immigrants as imminent dangers, many conservative brains will involuntarily light up like light bulbs being controlled by a switch.

    Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with offensive and divisive remarks.

    There is more ….

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 16, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    6. The Power of Mortality Reminders and Perceived Existential Threat

    A well-supported theory from social psychology, known as Terror Management Theory, explains why Trump’s fear mongering is doubly effective.

    The theory is based on the fact that humans have a unique awareness of their own mortality.

    The inevitably of one’s death creates existential terror and anxiety that is always residing below the surface.

    In order to manage this terror, humans adopt cultural worldviews — like religions,
    political ideologies, and national identities — that act as a buffer by instilling life with meaning and value.

    Terror Management Theory predicts that when people are reminded of their own mortality – which happens with fear mongering – they will more strongly defend those who share their worldviews and national or ethnic identity, and act out more aggressively towards those who do not.

    Hundreds of studies have confirmed this hypothesis, and some have specifically shown that triggering thoughts of death tends to shift people towards the right.

    Not only do death reminders increase nationalism, they influence actual voting habits in favor of more conservative presidential candidates.

    And more disturbingly, in a study with American students, scientists found that making mortality salient increased support for extreme military interventions by American forces that could kill thousands of civilians overseas.

    Interestingly, the effect was present only in conservatives, which can likely be attributed to their heightened fear response.

    By constantly emphasizing existential threat, Trump creates a psychological condition that makes the brain respond positively rather than negatively to bigoted statements and divisive rhetoric.

    Liberals and Independents who have been puzzled over why Trump hasn’t lost
    supporters after such highly offensive comments need look no further than TERROR MANAGEMENT THEORY.

    7. Dunning-Kruger Effect: Humans Often Overestimate Their Political Expertise

    Some support Donald Trump do so out of ignorance — basically they are under-informed or misinformed about the issues at hand.

    When Trump tells them that crime is skyrocketing in the United States, or that the economy is the worst it’s ever been, they simply take his word for it.

    The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed; it’s that they are completely UNAWARE that they are misinformed, which creates a double burden.

    Studies have shown that people who lack expertise in some area of knowledge often have a cognitive bias that prevents them from realizing that they lack expertise.

    As psychologist David Dunning puts it in an op-ed for Politico, “The knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task — and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at the task. This includes political judgment.”

    These people cannot be reached because they mistakenly believe they are the ones who should be reaching others.

    8. Relative Deprivation — A Misguided Sense of Entitlement

    Relative deprivation refers to the experience of being deprived of something to which one believes they are entitled.

    It is the discontent felt when one compares their position in life to others who they feel are equal or inferior but have unfairly had more success than them.

    Common explanations for Trump’s popularity among non-bigoted voters involve economics.

    There is no doubt that some Trump supporters are simply angry that American jobs are being lost to Mexico and China, which is certainly understandable,
    although these loyalists often ignore the fact that some of these careers are actually being lost due to the accelerating pace of automation.

    These Trump supporters are experiencing relative deprivation, and are common among the swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

    This kind of deprivation is specifically referred to as “relative”, as opposed to “absolute”, because the feeling is often based on a skewed perception of what one is entitled to.

    9. Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Others

    Intergroup contact refers to contact with members of groups that are outside one’s own, which has been experimentally shown to reduce prejudice.

    As such, it’s important to note that there is growing evidence that Trump’s white supporters have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans.

    For example, a 2016 study found that “…the racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”

    This correlation persisted while controlling for dozens of other variables. In agreement with this finding, the same researchers found that support for Trump increased with the voters’ physical distance from the Mexican border.

    These racial biases might be more implicit than explicit, the latter which is addressed in #12.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 16, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    10. Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable

    While the conspiracy theory crowd — who predominantly support Donald Trump and crackpot allies like Alex Jones and the shadowy QAnon — may appear to just be an odd quirk of modern society, the truth is that many of them suffer from psychological illnesses that involve paranoia and delusions, such as schizophrenia, or are AT LEAST vulnerable to them, like those with schizotypy personalities.

    The link between schizotypy and belief in conspiracy theories is well-established, and a recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research has demonstrated that it is still very prevalent in the population.

    The researchers found that those who were more likely to believe in outlandish conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the U.S. government created the AIDs epidemic, consistently scored high on measures of “odd beliefs and magical thinking”.

    One feature of magical thinking is a tendency to make connections between things that are actually unrelated in reality.

    Donald Trump and his media allies target these people directly. All one has to do is visit alt-right websites and discussion boards to see the evidence for such manipulation.

    11. Trump Taps into the Nation’s Collective Narcissism

    Collective narcissism is an unrealistic shared belief in the greatness of one’s national group.

    It often occurs when a group who believes it represents the ‘true identity’ of a nation — the ‘ingroup’, in this case White Americans — perceives itself as being disadvantaged compared to outgroups who are getting ahead of them ‘unrightfully’.

    This psychological phenomenon is related to relative deprivation (#6).

    A study published last year in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found a direct link between national collective narcissism and support for Donald Trump.

    This correlation was discovered by researchers at the University of Warsaw, who surveyed over 400 Americans with a series of questionnaires about political and social beliefs.

    Where individual narcissism causes aggressiveness toward other individuals, collective narcissism involves negative attitudes and aggression toward ‘outsider’ groups (outgroups), who are perceived as threats.

    Donald Trump exacerbates collective narcissism with his anti-immigrant, anti-elitist, and strongly nationalistic rhetoric.

    By referring to his supporters, an overwhelmingly WHITE GROUP, as being “true patriots” or “real Americans”, he promotes a brand of populism that is the epitome of “identity politics”, a term that is usually associated with the political left.

    Left-wing identity politics, as misguided as they may sometimes be, are generally aimed at achieving EQUALITY, while the right-wing brand is based on a belief that one nationality and race is superior or entitled to success and wealth for no other reason than IDENTITY.

    12. The Desire to Want to Dominate Others

    Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) — which is distinct but related to authoritarian personality syndrome (#13) — refers to people who have a preference for the societal hierarchy of groups, specifically with a structure in which the high-status groups have dominance
    over the low-status ones. Those with SDO are typically dominant, tough-minded, and driven by self-interest.

    In Trump’s speeches, he appeals to those with SDO by repeatedly making a clear distinction between groups that have a generally higher status in society (White), and those groups that are typically thought of as belonging to a lower status (immigrants and minorities).

    A 2016 survey study of 406 American adults published last year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that those who scored high on both SDO and authoritarianism were those who intended to vote for Trump in the election.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 16, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    13. Authoritarian Personality Syndrome

    Authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom, and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. Authoritarian Personality Syndrome — a well-studied and globally-prevalent condition — is a state of mind that is characterized by belief in total and complete obedience to one’s authority.

    Those with the syndrome often display aggression toward outgroup members, submissiveness to authority, resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society.

    The syndrome is often triggered by fear, making it easy for leaders who fear monger or exaggerate threat to gain their allegiance.

    Although authoritarian personality is found among liberals, it is more common among the right-wing around the world.

    President Trump’s speeches, which are laced with absolutist terms like “losers” and “complete disasters”, are naturally appealing to those with the syndrome.

    While research showed that Republican voters in the U.S. scored higher than Democrats on measures of authoritarianism before Trump emerged on the political scene, a 2016 Politico survey found that high authoritarians greatly favored then-candidate Trump, which led to a correct prediction that he would win the election, despite the polls saying otherwise.

    14. Racism and Bigotry

    It would be grossly unfair and inaccurate to say that every one of Trump’s supporters have prejudice against ethnic and religious minorities, but it would be equally inaccurate to say that many do NOT.

    It is a well-known fact that the Republican party, going at least as far back to
    Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy”, used tactics that appealed to bigotry, such as lacing speeches with “dog whistles” — code words that signaled prejudice toward minorities that were designed to be heard by racists but no one else.

    While the dog whistles of the past were subtler, Trump’s signaling is sometimes SHOCKINGLY DIRECT.

    There’s no denying that he routinely appeals to racist and bigoted supporters when he calls Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers” often in a blanketed fashion.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, a recent study has shown that support for Trump is correlated with a standard scale of MODERN RACISM.

    Bobby Azarian is a neuroscientist affiliated with George Mason University and a freelance journalist.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 16, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Frederick Douglass wrote:

    Slavery, like all other great systems of wrong, founded in the depths of human selfishness, and existing for ages, has not neglected its own conservation.

    It has steadily exerted an influence upon all around it favorable to its own continuance. And today it is so strong that it could exist, not only without law, but even against law.

    Custom, manners, morals, religion, are all on its side everywhere in the South; and when you add the ignorance and servility of the ex-slave to the intelligence and accustomed authority of the master, you have the conditions, not out of which slavery will again grow, but under which it is impossible for the Federal government to wholly destroy it, unless the Federal government be armed with despotic power, to blot out State authority, and to station a Federal officer at every cross-road.

    This, of course, cannot be done, and ought not – even if it could.

    The true way and the easiest way is to make our government entirely consistent with itself, and give to every loyal citizen the elective franchise, — a right and power which will be ever present, and will form a wall of fire for his protection.

    The Voters have already had their say at the mid-term ballot boxes.

    They are still counting.

    In 2018, It is, surely, a backward system of voting in the USA when a candidate is allowed to preside over and interfere with his own election process. If this is not a clear example of the entitlement the author is referring to, I am baffled.

    I say let Robert Mueller proceed with his investigation to its conclusion.

    Someone, much wiser than I am, once said:

    Adopt the pace of nature – Her Secret is ‘PATIENCE’

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 17, 2018 at 7:49 am

  • guyaneseonline  On November 17, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    An Apocalyptic Cult, 900 Dead: Remembering Jonestown Massacre, 40 Years On
    By Oliver Conroy | The Guardian UK

    Four decades ago this Sunday, the Rev Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of an American cult in the Guyanese jungle, ordered his followers to murder a US congressman and several journalists, then commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced fruit punch.

    The Jonestown massacre was, BEFORE 9/11, the largest single incident of intentional civilian death in American history. More than 900 people died, many children. It was also a devastating cultural trauma:

    The end of the last strains of a certain kind of 1960s idealism and 1970s radicalism. Jonestown’s legacy lives on in the ironic phrase “drink the Kool-Aid”. (In actuality it was Fla-Vor-Aid.)

    Although he would later become a symbol of the darker side of the west coast counterculture, Jim Jones was born to a poor family in Indiana. Described as an intelligent and strange child, Jones was instinctively attracted to religion, especially charismatic Christian traditions like Pentecostalism. He cut his teeth as a street preacher, and was, unusually for the time and place, a passionate advocate for racial equality.

    Jones’s idiosyncratic blend of evangelical Christianity, New Age spirituality and radical social justice attracted an enthusiastic following. He called his burgeoning church the Peoples Temple.

    Although Jones’s followers would later be stereotyped as sinister, brainwashed idiots, the journalist Tim Reiterman argues in his seminal book on the subject that many were “decent, hardworking, socially conscious people, some highly educated”, who “wanted to help their fellow man and serve God, NOT embrace a self-proclaimed deity on earth”.

    The Peoples Temple advocated socialism and communitarian living and was racially integrated to an exceptional standard rarely matched since.

    In 1965, when Jones was in his mid-30s, he ordered the Peoples Temple moved to California. He drifted away from traditional Christian teachings, describing himself in messianic terms and claiming he was the reincarnation of figures like Christ and Buddha. He also claimed that his goal all along was communism, and, in a twist on the famous dictum that religion is the “opiate of the masses”, that religion was merely his way of making Marxism more palatable.

    By the 1970s, the Peoples Temple, now based in San Francisco, had gained significant political influence. Jones’s fierce advocacy for the downtrodden earned him the admiration of left-wing icons like Angela Davis and Harvey Milk and the support of groups like the Black Panthers – a tragically misguided political affinity, given that more than two-thirds of Jonestown’s eventual victims were African American.

    The Peoples Temple was, as David Talbot notes in Salon, successful in part because it was politically useful: “Jones could be counted on to deliver busloads of obedient, well-dressed disciples to demonstrations, campaign rallies, and political precincts.”

    There were already signs, however, of a sinister undercurrent to the Peoples Temple. Followers were expected to devote themselves completely to the church’s utopian project: They turned over their personal wealth, worked long hours of unpaid labor for the church and often broke contact with their families. They were expected to raise their children within the commune. As a show of commitment, Peoples Temple members were asked to sign false testimonials that they had molested their children, which the church kept for potential blackmail.

    In his 1980 study of Jonestown, the writer Shiva Naipaul, younger brother of Trinidad and Tobago-born, VS Naipaul, argued that the Peoples Temple was at heart a fundamentalist religious project – “obsessed with sin and images of apocalyptic destruction, authoritarian in its innermost impulses, instinctively thinking in terms of the saved and the damned”.

    The result, Naipaul wrote, “was neither racial justice nor socialism but a messianic parody of both”.

    Jones, who had long believed the US was in danger of imminent nuclear holocaust, had been searching for a place where his church would be “safe” during an apocalyptic event. A magazine article alleging abuse in the Peoples Temple spurred Jones’s desire to relocate. He chose Guyana, a former British colony in South America whose socialist regime was politically sympathetic.

    In 1977 the Peoples Temple moved its headquarters to a remote area of Guyanese wilderness. Here, Jones declared, they could build a utopian society without government or media meddling. Battling an oppressive tropical climate and limited resources, the people of Jonestown began to convert the dense jungle into a working agricultural commune, soon known as “Jonestown”.

    The church delivered Jones’s rambling monologues to Jonestown’s inhabitants by megaphone as they worked. In the evenings they attended mandatory propaganda classes. Jones’s writ was enforced by armed guards called the “Red Brigade”.

    Jonestown had little reason to expect interference from Guyana – a “cooperative republic” whose government happily ignored signs of the cult’s authoritarian and paranoid bent. Back in the US, however, parents of Jonestown inhabitants – concerned by the strange letters, or lack of letters, they received from their children – had been lobbying the government to investigate.

    After a family in the US won a custody order for a child in Jonestown, paranoia escalated. The commune became an armed camp, ringed by volunteers with guns and machetes, threatening to fight outsiders to the death.

    During the siege, Black Panthers Huey Newton and Angela Davis spoke to Jonestown inhabitants by radio patch to voice solidarity. Davis told Jonestown inhabitants that they were at the vanguard of revolution, and right to resist what she called “a profound conspiracy” against them.

    Sometime during this period Jonestown began drills called “white nights”, in which inhabitants would practice committing mass suicide.

    At the behest of concerned family members in the US, the California congressman Leo Ryan organized a delegation of journalists and others to make a fact-finding mission to Jonestown.

    The delegation arrived at Jonestown on 17 November 1978 and received a civil audience from Jones, but the visit was hastily called short on 18 November after a member of the commune tried to stab Ryan. The delegation headed back to the airstrip, accompanied by a dozen Jonestown inhabitants who had asked to leave the commune, and escorted by Jones’s watchful deputies.

    The delegates never made it off the ground. As they boarded the planes, their escorts drew guns and opened fire. They shot Ryan dead, combing his body with bullets to make certain, and killed four others – including two photographers who captured footage of the attack before dying. Wounded survivors ran or dragged themselves, bleeding, into the forest. One of Ryan’s aides, Jackie Speier, survived five gunshots and is now a congresswoman representing California’s 14th district.

    Back at Jonestown, Jones announced that it was time to undertake the final “white night”. To quell disagreement, he told inhabitants that Congressman Ryan had already been murdered, sealing the commune’s fate and making “revolutionary suicide” the only possible outcome.

    The people of Jonestown, some acceptant and serene, others probably coerced, queued to receive cups of cyanide punch and syringes. The children – more than 300 – were poisoned first, and can be heard crying and wailing on the commune’s own audio tapes, later recovered by the FBI.

    When Guyanese troops reached Jonestown the next morning, they discovered an eerie, silent vista, frozen in time and littered with bodies. A tiny number of survivors, mainly people who had hidden during the poisoning, emerged. One elderly woman, who slept through the entire ordeal, awoke to discover everyone dead. Jones was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot.

    One of the journalists attacked on the airstrip, Tim Reiterman of the San Francisco Examiner, survived two bullet wounds and went on to write Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People – still considered the definitive history of the Jones cult.

    Reiterman has argued that it is impossible to separate Jonestown from its political and social context.

    The “Peoples Temple was – as many communes, cults, churches and social movements are – an alternative to the established social order, a nation unto itself”, he wrote in Raven.

    “The Temple I knew was not populated by masochists and half-wits, so it followed that the members who gave years of labor, life savings, homes, children and, in some cases, their own lives had been getting something in return.”

    He “recoiled”, Reiterman added, “when outsiders took the attitude that they or their children would never be crazy or vulnerable enough to join such an organization. Such complacency is self-delusion.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/17/an-apocalyptic-cult-900-dead-remembering-the-jonestown-massacre-40-years-on

  • guyaneseonline  On November 28, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Subject: Return to Jonestown | Survivors revisit site 40 years after the tragedy …

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