Posts Tagged ‘Jonestown’

I was struck in watching various Jonestown documentaries that the leftist ideology of Jones and his followers has been downplayed in most accounts. I had never heard word one about this until researching it recently, and it was barely visible in CNN’s documentary. For instance, most of the suicide victims willed their property to the Communist Party and an alternative to mass suicide considered by the group was defection to the Soviet Union.

There are certainly no shortage of right-wing crazies ranging from the Branch Davidians to Tim McVeigh. But left-wing violence is more often than not either treated as forgivable excesses–as in the easily rehabilitated murderers of the Weather Underground–or, at worst, as the product of deranged personalities and charismatic leaders.

If an abortion clinic bomber’s sins must be imputed to the pro-life movement as a whole, the tree-spikers of Earth First and the mass killers of Jonestown are treated as unique. This seems part of a broader attempt to excuse and compartmentalize leftist violence.  There is little attempt to examine the ways it flows logically from the uncompromising and “revolutionary” claims of the left as a whole.  Even the egregious violence of the Soviet Union was distinguished from how admirable Communism was “in theory.” Insofar as legality and “the system” are dismissed as obstacles, then such rhetoric surely has some relationship to the extra-legal actions of true believers.  But a confrontation with the Left’s violence is lacking from top to bottom.  Most egregiously, the current president began his political career in the living room of an admitted terrorist, and the media remained largely silent about it, just as they have flushed Jim Jones down the memory hole, treating his story as one of deranged personalities and an excess of religion, rather than typical leftist mania.

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