By John Frary — Last year presidential consigliore John Podesta snarled that Republicans “are facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown.” He apologized shortly after. I can only guess, but my intuition advises me that he was not regretful about slandering the Republicans or the Tea Party “cult.” I suspect a sudden memory of the connections between the “Reverend” Jim Jones and the Democratic Party motivated his retreat. The history of the People’s Temple and California’s liberal Democrats is relevant to a “scandal” recently manufactured by Maine People’s Alliance Miscommunications Director Mike Tipping.
A 2012 article in Salon, an insanely liberal website, sets the background: “Jim Jones, the strange and charismatic leader of the People’s Temple, proved a master at politically wiring San Francisco in the mid-1970s….Jones soon learned that his control over a well-organized, mixed-race army of some 8,000 dedicated followers gave him major stature with San Francisco’s liberal elite. “
Jones had a “progressive” pitch. He had a following. That was enough. Mayor Moscone appointed him chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission. He accompanied Moscone on a visit to Democratic vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale on his campaign plane. Jerry Brown, then and now governor of California, sang the preacher’s praises. Dianne Feinstein, now California’s senior senator, lunched with Jones and toured his People’s Temple. Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano told him “your humanitarian principles and your interest in protecting individual liberty and freedom have made an outstanding contribution to furthering the cause of human dignity.”
In March of 1977, Jones dined with Rosalynn Carter at the head table at the Democratic National Convention. In a March 17, 1977, letter from Jones to Carter, Jones requested aid for Castro’s Cuba. Rosalynn wrote back, “Your comments on Cuba have been helpful. I hope your suggestion can be acted on in the near future.”
Four months later Jones led his followers south to found Jonestown in Guyana. On Nov. 18, 1978 Jim Jones induced them to “drink the Kool-Aid,” creating almost a thousand corpses and an enduring metaphor.
Here’s a lesson we must all draw from this story. Stay away from any group with “People’s” in it’s name, e.g., People’s Temple, People’s Democratic Republic, People’s Army, People’s Police, Maine People’s Alliance. Such groups are almost invariably destructive, fanatical, idiotic, and deceitful.
Thirty-six years ago these intimate involvements embarrassed a lot of Democratic politicians but did no serious or permanent damage. The Main Stream Media reported all of the facts recited above, but political reporters and pundits pointed out that, after all, politicians say nice things about putative supporters without meaning them a whole lot. I don’t remember them delving too deeply into Reverend Jim’s wacko kindergarten Marxism. Some YouTube recitals of him leading his “congregation” in singing the Soviet national anthem conveys the flavor. The story that he attempted to negotiate a refuge in the USSR for his followers is disputed. True or false, I’d be surprised to learn that Soviet officials were as gullible as San Francisco’s liberals.
This brings us to Mike Tipping’s dramatic expose. He writes that Paul LePage met with “a group of Sovereign Citizens, recognized by the FBI and Maine state law enforcement as belonging to “a domestic terrorist movement.’”
This “group” consists of four people. Its members don’t call themselves the Sovereign Citizens of Maine. They call themselves the “Maine Constitution Coalition.” They deny affiliation with any Sovereign Citizens organization. They deny terrorist aspirations. Mike persists in calling them “sovereigns,” implying linkage to domestic terrorism. The Maine People’s Alliance hack understands the wisdom of Francis Bacon’s dictum: “Calumniate, calumniate, something always sticks.” He will go on implying that they are terrorists, continue to speak of them as associates of the Sovereign Citizens, continue to imply that Paul LePage dreams of suspending Justin Alfond from any convenient tree and leaving him swinging wide and free. All he has to say is that he “stands by his story.” Makes you think of a man standing in a cesspool saying ‘come on in, the water’s fine.”
This “sinister” group delivered documents to Mark Eves and Justin Alfond. Did they view this as a terrorist act? Were they, in fact, terrified? Were these dread documents launched as lethal paper planes? We must await further details.
Our governor spent some time speaking to them. This offends Mike, the Maine People’s Alliance, Prof. Amy Fried, a whole bunch of people. There’s a certain symmetry here since they would all feel equally alienated from everybody who spends time talking with Paul LePage. The learned professor leaps into print with a column citing Margaret Chase Smith’s denunciation of Joseph McCarthy as an example fit for the governor to follow. Comparing Senator McCarthy with four nobodies seems a little far-fetched, but there is a historical parallel here. The central charge against the Wisconsin senator was his practice of ascribing “guilt by association.” It’s a simple technique. You say X knows Y; Y knows Z, who’s a communist. Therefore X is a communist. Mike and Amy understand this technique very well.
Let’s sum up. This tempest originates with the state’s most powerful hate group, the “We Hate LePage Posse” (WHLPP). They are hoping that the dimmest among Maine’s voters will remember this as the story about how the governor plans to hang Democrats.
I feel a little vulnerable to this charge myself since I’ve had contact with some people who know some other people who have associated with some people associated with the group. So I declare here before the people of Maine and the whole world that I have never advocated hanging Democrats, wholesale or individually.
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and publisher of www.fraryhomecompanion.com and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org