A very important Washington Post article published on Tuesday morning following the late Saturday events in Jonestown, Georgetown and Port Kaituma, Guyana 45 years ago, has endured despite efforts at suppressing it for some of the reporting it contained---efforts which have themselves become permanently enshrined as part of a record of manipulation.
I speak of a textual analysis from copies of the House of Representatives' Staff report on the the assassination of Representative Lee J. Ryan and the Jonestown, Guyana tragedy--and I mean the 782-page version, which recently become available to me on my computer from hathitrust, and not the condensed 64 pages available for an "alternative consideration."
From that other source, I was familiar with the table of contents that listed 67 early Jonestown news articles by title, author, date and publication, but with the larger resource, scanned from the books in the Purdue and University of Michigan libraries, I now had nominal texts.
Luckily for me, what should have been created and maintained as the definitive statement on the deaths of 909 Americans, including a Congressman, didn't enter my awareness untill I had already assembled a fairly impressive collection of news articles salvaged from the 1970's. For instance, the one to which I am referring, had built up this hefty entry:
November 21, 1978, The Washington Post, page A1, Cult Head Leads 408 to Deaths in Suicide-Murders, Extolling 'Beauty of Dying,' Jones Led 408 in Killing, by Leonard Downie Jr. 2,520 words [pqarchiver] [apologetics: Exalting 'Beauty of Dying.' Jones Leads 408 to Death,] [hathitrust] [Blog]Having suffered the indignities of the FBI's attempt at preserving newspaper texts bearing on a preeminent American event of a criminal nature, I thought one could go no lower, but if the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, along with the federal printing office, is any indication, how far down the printed word can go is indeterminable.
Examples are endless, but I thought the following a particularly telling instance. It might appear that two original clippings slightly overlapped, and in reproduction the first line of a paragraph was dropped. If Congress took news seriously, or had workers with standards, such accidental loss would be avoided:
But other texts are available for consideration. The vaguely tri-part sounding apologeticsindex.org, which thus must accordingly have CIA roots, saved several front-page Washington Post articles from the Jonestown launch, but the title attributed to this one was a play on words from the original's subtitle, so it took me awhile to fill in the blanks:
Guyana's minister of information, Shirley Field-Ridley, said yesterday morning at a press conference, "I really can't find words to describe our reaction to this terrible thing that has happened in Guyana."
She said the Guyanese authorities first heard about the mass suicides in Jonestown Saturday night when a man who had escaped from the compound and walked 20 miles to the outpost of Matthews Ridge told police there that he had seen hundreds of people being administered poison in Jonestown
[The first Guyanese investigators] reached Jonestown later Saturday night, and found everyone inside the compound dead. The Guyanese government did not make any announcement of that fact until early Monday morning a few hours before Field-Ridley's press conference.While this does call into question the established timeline, it doesn't explain why Americans need to protect the Guyanese from the credit or blame stemming from it (isn't responding quickly better?). Unless, of course, what everybody is really playing here is a game of "hide the authority-hide the accountability":
Although Guyanese authorities also were aware of the shootings at the Port Kaituma airstrip eight miles from Jonestown on Saturday night the Guyanese military did not move in to secure the area and remove the wounded and survivors until Sunday morning. The State Department said in Washington the delay was due to the lack of lights at the Port Kaituma airstrip.The accepted rules governing "good guy-bad guy" encounters are dispensed with when you mash up the words "murder-suicide" on such a grand scale, especially when autopsies were done on only a dozen out of the 908 potential victim-perpetrators. So in applying a different metric to this altered landscape, I find something particularly attractive in Shirley Field-Ridley's speechlessness as she confronts "exhortations on the 'beauty of dying,'" (and don't forget; "The babies went first!)
The same goes for concepts like sanity and insanity. For instance, what central authority figure on a descent into madness hires a new lawyer two months before he unleashes the apocalypse; having paid the talking-head to say this:
Lane said Jones had become "paranoid" about stories in the U.S. press that people had been impressed into the cult and were being held against their will under terrible conditions in Jonestown. He said Jones had threatened to have all the Jonestown residents commit suicide about a year ago, but that Jones was talked out of it by long distance pleas from Black Panther Huey Newton, Angela Davis and others.Mark Lane had obviously been briefed and was up to speed, and he was no slouch either, when within days, he moved Terri Burford, who had been Jim Jones' main international money handler, into a share in his personal Memphis safehouse and soapbox. Anybody who would put multi-million dollar finances into the hands of a gaggle of twenty-something-year-old females deserves whatever is coming to him.
Lane still doing the talking:
Then, shortly after most of Ryan's party and those residents Jones allowed to leave had started down the dirt track from Jonestown to the airstrip in a falling rain, came the knife incident.No, but you can call these junkies trips.
Lane gave the following account:
One of Jones' top lieutenants, Don Sly, suddenly grabbed Ryan around the neck with his left arm, placed a knife against Ryan's neck with his right hand, and shouted: "Congressman Ryan, you mother---."
While Ryan struggled to push the man's hands away from his neck, Lane grabbed Sly's arms from the front and Gerry, 69, grabbed Sly from behind.
Finally, "all kinds of people from the temple moved in," Gerry said, and pulled Sly away from Ryan as the congressman fell to the floor. Sly's hand was cut in the struggle and blood from that cut was all over the congressman's clothes. Some Jonestown residents gave Ryan a clean set of clothes to changes into later on the plane.
Jones calmly watched this incident from some distance, making no move. Lane and Ryan told Jones that police and a doctor must be called at once. Jones said they would be, but no one came.
Jones, visibly shaken, then sat down to talk to Ryan.
"Does this change things?" Jones asked Ryan, who told Jones that he still saw many positive things in Jonestown but that the knife incident did change his impression.
Ryan then asked Lane, "Are you mad at me?"
"No," Lane said. "I'm so grateful that you came here."
"I'll always be grateful that you saved my life," Ryan told Lane.
Lane said he responded by joking with the congressman: "Now no one can call this trip a junket."
As "knife incidents" go, this one pales in comparison to the attack on Sharon Amos, en famille, in the Georgetown bathroom. In fact, it is so wildly off base that it just begs for alternative consideration.
Coincidentally, at the same time all this was going down, the garbage truck full of the assorted departing was slowed by a detour into a ditch. Other reports indicate that the Sly knife encounter (better name for him would have been Inept,) took place in private--in an indoor space, close by to the picnic shed. This set me to wondering if Ryan wasn't undergoing some sort of practice dry run that suddenly turned wet when a bladder of stage blood under his clothes meant for the dramatic finale somehow erupted prematurely. The story as told is worse than impossible: rather than pull two men apart in a fight, you let a perp stand over a vic and gravity gush red, because apparently it was so bad Ryan had to get into a new set of clothes.
But Ryan's being already onboard an aircraft is a real deal breaker, since it was only politicians and newsmen outside, with the "eyewitness" of everybody else severely narrowed.
What this ultimately will lead to is a game of numbers, given the strange specificity of 408 in the title, and a 409 in the lead paragraph. This would mean that every single body we see would need to have one additional body hiding underneath it, plus 100 more fractional bodies---maybe the babies---interspersed throughout:
November 21, 1978, The Washington Post, Cult Head Leads 408 to Deaths in Suicide-Murders, by Leonard Downie, Jr.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana---With exhortations on the "beauty of dying," the Rev. Jim Jones led 409 of his followers in the Peoples Temple Church to a mass suicide-murder and was himself shot to death, according to reports yesterday from the scene of the massacre.
Guyanese authorities said most of the victims appear to have been killed with poison drawn from a vat set in a clearing in Jonestown, the agricultural settlement where Jones' cult was based. Only three bodies had gunshot wounds.
By late yesterday only a dozen of the several hundred residents of Jonestown who apparently fled into the surrounding forest had returned to the compound. Authorities said the returnees were helping to identify the dead.
A survivor of the mass murder-suicide told an investigating group that visited Jonestown yesterday that the poison consisted of cyanide mixed with Kool-aid in a vat. It was administered by Jonestown's staff doctor and nurses to men, women, children and babies. Those who tried to refuse the poison, or escape were forced by armed guards to take it.
Although Guyanese authorities also were aware of the shootings at the Port Kaituma airstrip eight miles from Jonestown on Saturday night the Guyanese military did not move in to secure the area and remove the wounded and survivors until Sunday morning. The State Department said in Washington the delay was due to the lack of lights at the Port Kaituma airstrip.
Mark Lane said yesterday that he sensed an undercurrent of danger as soon as the two chartered planes from Georgetown carrying Ryan's party landed on the grass airstrip Friday.
Lane recalled that Jones, who had asked Lane to come to protect him from harassment from Ryan and his group, at first was not going to let anyone into Jonestown.
Lane said Jones had become "paranoid" about stories in the U.S. press that people had been impressed into the cult and were being held against their will under terrible conditions in Jonestown. He said Jones had threatened to have all the Jonestown residents commit suicide about a year ago, but that Jones was talked out of it by long distance pleas from Black Panther Huey Newton, Angela Davis and others.
The Washington Post won't let me spend $3.95 for the article in question. I doubt anybody gets even one "Buy Complete Document" link