Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Ha-Ha! How's It Feel To Know You've Been Cheated?"


Now that we've got the whole "gay" marriage thing out of the way, and can go back to telling the truth, here's the Harvey Milk biopic I'd pay to see:
No political figures were more gushing in their praise of [cult leader Jim Jones] than Willie Brown and Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s rising tribune of gay freedom. Milk, a perennial candidate for office until he finally won a supervisor’s seat in 1977, aggressively sought Jones’s political blessing. “Our paths have crossed,” Milk wrote Jones during an earlier campaign for supervisor, in a letter filled with the kind of awed reverence that the cult leader demanded from his followers. “They will stay crossed. It is a fight that I will walk with you into . . . The first time I heard you, you made a statement: ‘Take one of us, and you must take all of us.’ Please add my name.” 
Not content to hear dignitaries whisper flatteries into his ear, Jones staged a testimonial banquet in his own honor and demanded that politicians in his debt offer him public tribute. On the evening of September 25, 1976, the Peoples Temple headquarters on Geary Boulevard was converted into a formal dining hall with linen tablecloths and floral arrangements. At the head table sat Mayor Moscone, District Attorney Freitas, and Assemblyman Willie Brown, who acted as the evening’s exuberant master of ceremonies. As he introduced the man of the hour to the overflow audience, Brown reached new heights of shameless, ass-kissing puffery. “Let me present to you,” Brown roared, “a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein . . . Chairman Mao.” By the time Jones rose to tumultuous applause, he seemed likely to walk on water.

Can you picture it? I can picture it. A lot of reds. C'mon, you've just gotta get the feeling. Where's Oliver Stone when you need him? Michael Moore? We need a re-revisionary:
Because Milk and Moscone were murdered so soon after the Jonestown tragedy, there was immediate speculation that Peoples Temple was somehow involved. Ann Kronenberg, Milk’s hand- picked successor, told Milk biographer Randy Shilts, that when she first heard Milk was murdered, she thought Jim Jones was responsible. Rumors began to circulate (and some persist today) of obscure connections between Jim Jones and Milk’s murderer, Dan White. Vague rumors of a falling out between Milk and Jones also surfaced. One story has it that Milk asked Peoples Temple to remove his name from the church’s list of supporters when reports of violence and theft first came to light, and that he was outraged when the Temple failed to comply with his demand. Eventually, history settled on an official story: Jim Jones was a master manipulator who used unwitting local politicians to gain power for himself. The politicians, including Milk and Moscone, used Jones for volunteers and votes, while remaining personally distant and blissfully unaware of rumors of Temple violence, abuse, theft and even murder. The timing of Dan White’s murderous rampage was deemed coincidental. 

 
However, upon closer inspection, it is clear that Harvey Milk was a strong advocate for Peoples Temple and Jim Jones during his political career, including the tumultuous year leading up to the Jonestown tragedy. Milk spoke at the Temple often, wrote personal letters to Jim Jones, contacted other elected officials on the Temple’s behalf, and used space in his weekly column to support the works of the Temple, even after the negative New West article went to press. Milk appeared in the pages of the Peoples Forum, the Temple newspaper, and received over fifty letters of sympathy from the residents of Jonestown when his lover, Jack Lira, killed himself in September 1978. 


It is readily apparent from the letters and historical memorabilia that Milk and the Temple enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship until their concurrent deaths. Why then is the relationship such a secret, even taboo to discuss? The only biography of Milk to date, The Mayor of Castro Street, by Randy Shilts, downplays the Milk/Temple relationship, even going so far as to paint Milk as one of the countless people who cruelly ridiculed and ostracized the surviving Temple members and their supporters. Like most historians, Shilts opted for an image of an expedient politician, instead of truthfully portraying how Milk worked with Peoples Temple until the end of his life. 

 
Enough time has passed since Milk’s brutal murder to reanalyze this relationship, to explore how and why Harvey Milk supported Peoples Temple,...Harvey Milk irrefutably supported Peoples Temple. 


It may be understandable why in November 1978 the supporters of Milk would attempt to distance the newly martyred supervisor from the still-unfolding horrors of Jonestown. However, we as witnesses, historians, researchers and writers have an obligation to tell future generations the whole truth, as we understand it, to record as much documentation as possible and let the biases and subsequent interpretations transform over time,... 

 
If Milk supported Peoples Temple, now is the pivotal time for us to unveil the truth,...It is most important that we not participate in or settle for the revisionism and obfuscation that has passed for the historical account of this relationship to date.

You mean like Will & Grace covered for - oh, never mind,...