Posted On: Monday - April 29th 2019 8:21PM MST
In Topics:   Commies  History  Movies  Socialism/Communism
Part 2 of this series left off with the geography of the location of Jonestown and a bit about the climate, both the climate climate, and the "Climate of Communism", I'll call it now, which is never conducive to the development of higher life forms.
Let me write just one more thing with respect to the remoteness of Jonestown, Guyana, in the 1970's, which many cannot relate to today. There was no internet, and there were no phones, even landlines that don't take pictures (yeah, I know, "what's a landline?" LOOK IT UP on your wireless device). I'm not sure even Port Kaituma, 6 miles or so away, had any phone line. Though the Peoples' Temple Guyana group originally had an office in Georgetown, the capital, all they had for communications from their
A year to a year and a half of misery down in what WAS in reality Communist Gulag (without the tundra, so there was that) was enough to make anyone either ready for a break-out or just plain suicidal. I'll get more to the suicidal part later on. There were members of this cult who wanted out, but this was no easy deal anymore with almost no communications to the outside world. Jim Jones was not going to let anyone badmouth his place on the shortwave, and, as stated in the section on Geography last post, this was the kind of place that America, as THE free-world power at the time BY FAR didn't really give a rat's ass about. Nope, if the "according to his ability" lifestyle, along with the SS checks, was not making life a picnic there, there would be no C-141 airdrops from your Capitalist-Roader enemy of pallets of steaks, frozen foods, toilet paper, and Kool-Aid. (Wait, they were stocked up pretty well on Kool-Aid.)
Like pretty much any Communist country in history, people were trying to get out. It wasn't rubber rafts, as out of Cuba, Philippine freighters, as out of Vietnam, single-seat fighter jets and ballet troupes, as out of Soviet Russia, ladders or hot-air balloons as out of East Germany, or caskets as out of Cambodia, but the place was surrounded by jungle. I was remiss in the last post in not pointing out the possible familiarity of readers with French Guiana by way of the movie Papillon. In the (real-life-based) prison of the movie, the jungle and the remoteness replaced prison walls, at least in the initial sentence/location for Steve McQueen. It was very much the same in Jonestown, a century later, two Guianas away.
With 900-odd members down there, that means likely 5,000 or so fairly concerned close relatives back in California. By some point that summer of '78, many of these people were anxious enough to try to find out what was happening down there. It was enough to get California Congressman Leo Ryan to make a trip to the camp. The Jonestown leaders were alerted he was coming and had prepared a reception he was not agonna forget. Congressman Leo with a number of news reporters and cameramen left 4 days before the big happening for Georgetown, and arrived at Port Kaituma airstrip 1 day before. As they checked out the place, Mr. Jones, who had become very ill and more delusional than normal over the last year or so, did not trust that the delegation was impressed with the place. Unfortunately, some would-be defectors passed a note to one of the prison leaders mistakenly, rather than to the Congressman about their wanting to leave.
Though he was told that the Congressman was going to give a good report (we'll never know now, but remember, Jim Jones was well-connected politically - the Democrats LUVED him!), Jones did not believe this. As the crew boarded a 6-seat single engine Cessna that had come to pick them up at Port Kaituma along with a 20-seat Twin Otter, a ringer onboard named Larry Layton shot up the rest of the passengers in the single-engine Cessna, as it was back-taxiing for takeoff. With the Otter, it became very much like an action-movie scene. An open trailer towed by a tractor to Port Kaituma got in front of the plane, and Jonestown Kommie-Kultists opened fired with shotguns, pistols and rifles at it. It was destroyed.** The Congressman was hit with 20 shots and died there.***
I guess that was the point that Jones decided he'd made the situation down there unsustainable. If you are going to have lots of stupidity, at least make it "sustainable stupidity" - that's one take-away here. It was about that time, time to "DRINK THE KOOL-AID". Most were dead within 5 minutes.
Listen, don't be surprised, readers, but in my day we did very similar stuff. It wasn't for repudiation of the Capitalist system or that sort of thing - it was usually for football or concert tickets (and camping out for 2 nights to get 'em). Yes, we also had big trash cans full of Kool-Aid. They weren't laced with cyanide though, just a number of bottles of 190-proof Everclear, with traces of cut-up oranges, berries, and random fruit thrown in for nutritional value. Yes, we drank the Kook-Aid, and no, we were not the better off for it in the morning either.
If you've read about this story, you may have learned another thing I had not known until now. There had been practice suicide runs a number of times before. I don't just mean "OK, take a swig and imagine you are going to die. Next time, we'll spike this up a notch." No, there was suicide "practice" in which the willing(?) participants were told that the stuff WAS poison, so they took it knowingly. In these earlier cases, Jim Jones was "just kidding", and I do wonder if he had watched the original M*A*S*H* movie, with the pretty well-done Suicide is Painless scene*, made well before Jonestown was built. However, the babies and toddlers were given the poison directly via syringes squirted into their mouths, some by their own parents. How sick! It's one thing to fall for a charismatic cult leader or beliefs thereof, or to leave it all behind. It's another to birth a child in a Communist prison camp, and yet another to murder him to prove your point of stupidity!
Therefore, this was truly a mass suicide for the most part, with those unfortunately little ones and the smart defection-minded ones who didn't make it out being just those eggs that the Kool-Aid Kommies need to make those great omelets with.
I'll mention again here that, OK, it was really "Flavor-Aid" a cheaper version of this flavored sugar water. I don't know why even poor Communists would need to save money on Kool-Aid. I believe it'd still be less than one quarter for a nice refreshing, not particularly thirst-quenching, pint solo cup, at today's prices for the sugar and drink mix. Either drink, the expression stands to this day for anyone drinking from the pitcher of stupidity. In most cases, death doesn't come within 5 minutes, but misery and earlier death for the rest of us come from too much "drinking the Kool-Aid" nonetheless.
* Note, the movie is MUCH BETTER than the later Alan-Alda (basically a synonym for "cuck" now) - starring 1970's - '80's TV show.
** A nice piece of good news was that the 2 pilots were able to fly the Cessna (by that point, not exactly FAA airworthy on paper!) out of that mess on back to Georgetown. Peak Stupidity would love to talk to either of them, if they are still alive!
*** I gotta say honestly that I don't get all broken up about a US Congressman getting shot these days. However, this Leo Ryan was doing something constructive, constituent services, at least, and additionally he was quite a character himself who deserves his own post here on Peak Stupidity.