noviembre 18, 2006

In the holy name of socialism.

This week marks the deaths of 913 people, including 276 children, in the Guyanan jungle. Most of them died by their own hand, voluntarily drinking a cyanide-laced grape punch (not Kool Aid, contrary to the idiomatic expression). The ones who wouldn’t kill themselves were shot. Babies had the lethal concoction forced into their mouths with syringes.
Orchestrating the 1978 holocaust was “Reverend” Jim Jones, founder of the People’s Temple. His church had been based in San Francisco until allegations of brutality, financial irregularities, and mistreatment of children became widely publicized. In 1977 he set up shop in South America.
Jones is sometimes described as a religious fanatic, and as a man who used faith to do monstrous things. The truth is that his faith wasn’t, as many presume, in Christianity. He believed in Marx more than in Christ.
Jones baptized people “in the holy name of socialism” and called himself the Socialist Worker God. His church’s newspaper featured a picture of him shaking hands in Cuba with Black Panther Huey Newton. Jones wanted his followers to learn Russian. He’d left instructions for assets to be sent to the Soviet Union.
Jones referenced that in 1977 when he wrote to the First Lady and recommended that the U.S. government give Cuba medical supplies. He mentioned his “deep appreciation for the privilege of dining privately with you prior to the election.” She replied by saying she’d enjoyed the experience and hoped the United States would adopt his suggestion on Cuba.

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