At first, the numbers seemed too absurd to be true: did Mitt Romney really receive zero votes in 59 Philadelphia voting districts? Did Barack Obama really outpoll him by a combined 19,605 to 0 votes cast in these 59 districts.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which has no interest in deceiving, the answer is yes. Immediately, one suspects some element of fraud, but fraud isn't the real issue here. Obama was producing nearly comparable numbers in inner-cities throughout America, especially those in contested states.
Worse than fraud is the process that turned nearly 20,000 black Philadelphians -- and millions of inner-city dwellers throughout the country -- into automatons. Hope does not produce this kind of regimentation. Fear does. In looking at these numbers, in fact, one can begin to see how, 34 years ago this Sunday, in the jungles of Guyana, Jim Jones was able to persuade 918 of his followers, most of them poor and black, to drink their lethal Kool-Aid. Fear can do that.
Not surprisingly, it was while at college -- Indiana U -- that Jim Jones got his first injection of Marx, and he was hooked from the beginning. Given that promoting communism in 1950's Indianapolis held about as much promise as promoting traditional marriage in contemporary San Francisco, Jones took another tack. "I decided how can I demonstrate my Marxism," he would recount years later. "The thought was 'infiltrate the church.'"
In 1955 he and his wife Marceline did just that, opening the Peoples Temple Christian Church in Indianapolis. Here, Jones embarked on a second strategy, this one a proven winner in Communist circles: exploit America's Achilles heel, racial injustice. This he did as well, recruiting hundreds of Christian blacks and then subtly shifting their focus from Jesus to Marx, all the while reinforcing their fear of White America. In 1965, he moved the whole shebang to Ukiah, about 100 miles north of San Francisco up Highway 101.
By 1970, the Peoples Temple had shed all but the illusion of Christianity. "We are not really a church," one of the leaders confided to Debbie Layton, a Jonestown survivor, "but a socialist organization. We must pretend to be a church so we're not taxed by the government."
Layton remembers Jones explaining "how those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought into enlightenment -- socialism." In his own reminisces, Jones called religion "a dark creation" of the oppressed. Salvation would come through other channels. "Free at last, free at last," he led his temple comrades in prayer, "Thank socialism almighty we will be free at last."
Faux Christian that he was, Jones pioneered the "social justice" mission. To be clear, though, he had no real interest in helping black people than do contemporary liberals. They provided his base, his path to power. As in today's Democratic Party, the hierarchy was almost exclusively white and female, many of whom Jones had raped. A sexual progressive, Jones raped his white male followers as well.
Like so many Democrats, Obama among them, Jones worked to aggravate race relations in America, not improve them. To that end, Jones had his people write hateful, racist letters and attribute them to lesser white people. Obama likewise worked to intensify the fears of black America, as he famously did at Hampton University in June 2007, when he reminded his listeners that the Republican administration did "not care about" them or consider them "part of the American family."
By 1973, after aggressive recruiting in black neighborhoods nationwide, the Peoples Temple boasted some 2500 members, most of them in San Francisco. Better still, they voted as if with one voice, Jones'. And not only did they vote en bloc, they rang doorbells and made phone calls and hung posters en bloc. Given their affection for independent thinkers -- and so many of them in one place! -- the city's progressive politicians wooed Jones like a Southern Belle.
From gay icon Harvey Milk to Rosalynn Carter, Jimmy's wife, they all come a courting. "I figured if these people -- if anybody should know, they should know," testified one black survivor as to why he stuck with Jones. After taking office as mayor in 1976, San Francisco mayor George Moscone repaid Jones by appointing him to the Human Rights Commission and then to the chairmanship of the San Francisco Housing Authority. That same year, The Los Angeles Times named Jones "the humanitarian of the year."
"In my later years," Jones reflected near the end, "there wasn't a person that attended any of my meetings that did not hear me say, at one time, that I was a communist." In the People's Republic of San Francisco that fact bothered almost no politico of consequence. "And that is what is very strange," Jones added, "that all these years I have survived without being exposed." In San Francisco, what was strange was that he even worried about it.
In 1974, Jones leased 3,000 acres of land in a Guyana jungle and began construction of a commune called the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project. Hundreds of his followers were dispatched there to work. What they discovered was a South American gulag equal parts Werner Erhard and Pol Pot.
The buzz about Jonestown persuaded Democrat Congressman Leo Ryan to check the place out. When Jones found out about Ryan's impending visit, he resorted to the ultimate Democrat gambit -- race baiting. He denounced Ryan as someone who had "voted sharply in racist terms and fascist terms" and began rehearsing his people for "White Night," the night when Ryan and other evil white people would come to kill them.
In preparation for visits from outsiders, Jones had earlier issued proclamation #75, "Give your original name when guest is here -- do not use your socialist names such as Lenin, Che Guevara, etc. . . " (87) On his visit Ryan quickly saw through the subterfuge. When he attempted to fly back to civilization with inside dope on the commune, a Jonestown security team murdered him and four others on the runway.
That night Jones put his well-drilled minions through a "White Night" exercise. They had been through this before, drinking the proverbial Kool Aid and surviving. They likely presumed that this was just another test of their loyalty. It wasn't. This time the drink was heavily laced with valium and cyanide. Everyone who drank it died. Those who refused to drink it were injected with it. As to Jones, he shot himself.
Despite the tragedy, Democrats from the president on down have continued to do almost exactly what Jones did and get away with it: embrace minorities, alert a partisan media to the embrace, woo the minorities for their support, reward them for it with Obamaphones and the like but never with real power, scare them with tales of racist whites, promise to protect them from those whites, engineer societies (or school systems) from which there is no escape, and when all goes to hell, as it inevitably does, blame Mitt Romney or some evil "other." In 2012, this strategy would seem to have paid off. Despite record poverty and unemployment, atrocious schools and neighborhoods, all the residents of Obama's Jonestowns voted for him.
"They're going to put y'all back in chains," Joe Biden told a group of African American supporters in August.
Silly us -- we thought it was a gaffe!