A Tale of Two Community Organizers

In 1970s America, two infamous organizations were gearing up for big things. Wade Rathke founded ACORN in Arkansas and soon after moved its headquarters to New Orleans. Jim Jones was building the Peoples Temple and set up operations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Rathke and Jones were btoh gifted community organizers utilizing Democrat politicians, a compliant media, and vulnerable citizens to further their quests for power and money. Their identical pretense was to help the poor and downtrodden.

Jim Jones could round up crowds of protesters and door-to-door campaign workers on demand. Admired and enabled by San Francisco Democrats and media moguls, Jones gathered emotionally and economically needy people around him, pretending to minister to their needs. He coerced them into draining their bank accounts, signing over their homes, and relinquishin their welfare and social security checks. 

Jones generously gave their money to the Democrat liberal elite and stashed millions in illegal overseas accounts. When Democrats needed a crowd of thousands, Jones provided his willing flock. He ran faith-healing and miracle scams. He loved and admired communism, Mao, Lenin, Marx, and Angela Davis. He railed against capitalism, but he was ready to pocket everything his followers signed over to him. He was a sought-after Democrat community organizer masquerading as a man of faith:
We are not really a church, but a socialist organization. We must pretend to be a church so we're not taxed by the government ... Those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought into enlightenment -- socialism.  -Deborah Layton, Seductive Poison
While Jones peddled the drug of religion and talked socialism, he imposed communism. Once his followers were hooked, he trapped them in his demoralizing dictatorship, all under the guise of fighting poverty and prejudice. The hierarchy of the Peoples Temple was largely white and the congregation mostly black, yet Jones engineered fake letter-writing campaigns to call attention to himself as an embattled race-warrior:
We produced hundreds of letters that were driven out of state and mailed from different locations to members of congress and local government figures. ... The letters looked as if they came from racists, angry at Jim's attempts to help the poor and people of color. The correspondence exhibited unharnessed racism, using the term "nigger-lover" to describe him and his good deeds.
Jones cried racism in the face of an unflattering story set to run in New West Magazine. In an effort to kill the story, he asked the editor:
Tell me, Rosalie, do you believe that this article will solve the problems Marshall Kilduff [New West writer] seems to have with people of color? [Ibid.]
Like recent Acorn whistle-blowers, Peoples Temple whistle-blowers feared for their lives and reputations. Jones had volumes of blackmail-ready tape recordings of his Planning Committee members "proving their loyalty to socialism by revealing their worst secrets." [Ibid.] 

A true believer who had joined the Peoples Temple as a lost 18-year-old, Deborah Layton became a whistle-blower and proved to be Jones' downfall...but not soon enough to save over 900 lives, including 276 children. Those with political power just looked away.

Jones understood the necessity of friends in high places.
Tim Stoen [church attorney] was being hired as chief prosecutor in an investigation into allegations that large numbers of non-residents had voted illegally in the 1975 election. Stoen would end up using volunteer clerical workers from the Temple in this sensitive investigation.  Later, similar voter fraud allegations would be leveled against the Temple itself, though not proved. 

... Jones often-denied ambitions for political recognition and power. It was not even enough that Gov. Brown appointed church attorney Tim Stoen in April 1976 to serve on the California Advisory Council to the Legal Services Corporation... he [Jones] wanted more than to host the Jan. 15, 1977 city wide celebration in honor of MLK, Jr. ... more than to share the podium that day with Gov. Jerry Brown and the head of President Carter's transition team.  [Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones by Tim Reiterman]
The big Democrat names and newspaper editors in 1970s San Francisco sat in Jones' pews and either bought his act or just liked his payoffs and power. But in 1977, things began to spin out of Jones' tight control, and a few frank stories of his oppressive Peoples Temple saw the light of day. 

Jones fled to socialist Guyana, where the constraints of polite society would not hinder him. He paid off government officials and isolated his flock as he set up his dream dictatorship. When the move spiraled out of control, a congressman investigating the group, an NBC news crew, and some disenchanted Jones followers were all gunned down as they tried to board planes to depart and tell their story.

Later on that day in November of 1978, nearly one thousand forsaken men, women and children, virtual prisoners of Jim Jones, were forced to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. They died hideous deaths in the communist paradise of Jonestown, Guyana, a perfect snapshot of a communist dictator's respect for humanity. The media preferred the storyline that Jones was a crazed religious zealot and cult leader. The story of Jones' help from friendly big-name Democrats was also swept away.

More businesslike, stable and enduring than Jim Jones, Wade Rathke built a nationwide, taxpayer-funded, partisan criminal enterprise. He was also enabled by like-minded Democrats and the media. Partisan protection of ACORN continues today, even from career politicians like Jerry Brown. Remember that Brown assisted Jones by placing the Temple attorney in a position of political power. Either Brown is a naïve man, or he lusts for the political power that both Jones and ACORN wielded. He is not alone.

Now ACORN's tentacles reach many organizations, including the Communist Party USA  (CPUSA), which wrote glowingly about highly partisan campaign work in 2004:
The chair of ACORN and Working Families Party called upon us as family to make our contribution known. Did we respond? YES, we responded!
In 2008, the CPUSA website gushed:
The grand coalition of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win along with National Council of La Raza, Women's Vote, ACORN, MoveOn and Rock the Vote has launched the biggest ever-independent voter mobilization, which is at the heart of winning a massive turnout on Election Day and after.
Numerous voter fraud and corruption investigations and ACORN's links to the CPUSA, labor unions, and other questionable and partisan groups did not interest the traditional media. Most often, the media praised and protected this massive organization. In the face of a couple of young adults' recent undercover ACORN sting, the traditional media was first shamed into coverage, but now has no interest in getting to the bottom of any of it. 

Wade Rathke's replacement, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, responded to the video evidence of nationwide corruption in her organization with the false cry of racism. This is a familiar tactic used by determined community organizers emboldened by political friends and a sympathetic media. ACORN's ties to big-name Democrats resemble Jim Jones' San Francisco political alliances on four decades of steroids. A glance into Bertha Lewis's Rolodex reveals the private contact information on Patrick Gaspard, former SEIU V.P., and the current "Karl Rove" of the Obama administration. Friends in high places prove lucrative.

Like a good communist leader, Jones squirreled away millions in offshore accounts. The recent raid on ACORN offices in New Orleans seeks to find evidence of Dale Rathke's embezzlement and a cover-up by Wade Rathke. ACORN national board members with sincere motives and questions about this financial wrongdoing were fired. Like many in the Peoples Temple, these members believed that their mission was altruistic, that community organizing was to benefit the needy.

The reality is that both Jones and the leaders of ACORN used the weak and goodhearted to line their own pockets and further their own power. Similar themes of exploitation, communism, race-baiting, intimidation, and dishonesty run through their stories. Their stroke of genius was to support Democrats, and in so doing, buy off the media. Despite lessons learned from the largest mass murder-suicide in history, this formula for unfettered corruption continues unabated.
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