USPS Drinks the Harvey Milk Kool-Aid — Awards stamp to “Degenerate Homosexual Icon”
Candice Naranjo from KRON 4 reports, “Long lines have formed in front of a U.S. Post Office in San Francisco’s Castro District this morning as supporters of assassinated city Supervisor Harvey Milk rush to get a stamp dedicated to the gay rights leader, a postal service spokesman said. The stamp with Milk’s laughing face, name and a small strip of the rainbow flag, first became available this morning at post offices throughout San Francisco and nationwide.”
Americans For Truth About Homosexuality noted in an email, “USPS Awards stamp to degenerate homosexual icon, Harvey Milk–who was big supporter of murderous cult leader Jim Jones. No problem that as a 33-year-old man, Milk had an illegal sexual relationship with a 16-year-old runaway boy! (Imagine if you were the boy’s dad or mom or grandparent.).”
The American Family Association reports, “The Harvey Milk stamp was a result of seven years of lobbying by a self-described drag queen (a biological man with implanted breasts) and former transsexual prostitute Nicole Murray Ramirez of San Diego.”
Watch the White House “Harvey Milk stamp” ceremony:
Question: Why honor Harvey Milk rather than Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens? Milk was a minor figure, Ambassador Stevens was a Presidential appointee and died in service to the nation.
In the byline to his San Francisco City Journal column “Drinking Harvey Milk’s Kool-Aid” Daniel J. Flynn states, “Lionized by Hollywood and California state legislators, the real Milk was a demagogue and pal of Jim Jones.”
Milk makes a rather unremarkable subject for the silver screen. In his seven years in San Francisco, he made four bids for elective office, only emerging victorious in his last—a 1977 run for city supervisor. For his persistence, Milk jokingly referred to himself as the “gay Harold Stassen.” He served for less than a year. In naming the onetime camera-shop proprietor one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth century, Time conceded, “As a supervisor, Milk sponsored only two laws—predictably, one barring anti-gay discrimination, and, less so, a law forcing dog owners to clean pets’ messes from sidewalks.” Eleven months on the city council hardly seems the stuff of Hollywood legend. So Hollywood invented a legend.
Rather than the gentle, soft-spoken idealist portrayed by Sean Penn, the real Harvey Milk was a short-tempered demagogue who cynically invented stories of victim hood to advance his political career. During his successful run for city supervisor, for instance, Milk’s camera store was the object of a glass-shattering attack by low-grade explosives. Milk blamed singer Anita Bryant, the outspoken opponent of gay-friendly legislation. “Years later friends hinted broadly that Harvey had more than a little foreknowledge that the explosions would happen,” biographer Randy Shilts noted. One friend explained to Shilts: “You gotta realize the campaign was sort of going slow, and, well . . .”
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Milk was far more cavalier about the privacy of others than he was about his own. When Bill Sipple became a national hero for tackling gun-toting kook Sara Jane Moore before she could kill President Gerald Ford in 1975, Milk anonymously leaked news of the former Marine’s homosexuality to the media. “It’s too good an opportunity,” Milk reasoned. “For once we can show that gays do heroic things.” Just as Milk anticipated the “outing” tactics of ACT-Up and Queer Nation, his rhetoric, too, foreshadowed the hyperbole of AIDS activists of the following decade. Milk liberally tossed the “Nazi” label at opponents of various gay-rights proposals and even compared politically moderate homosexuals to Nazi collaborators. “We are not going to allow our rights to be taken away and then march with bowed heads into the gas chambers,” Milk proclaimed at 1978’s Gay Freedom Parade in San Francisco.
But Harvey Milk’s homosexuality played about as much of a role in his murder as San Francisco mayor George Moscone’s heterosexuality played in his. Their murderer, troubled political neophyte Dan White, had donated $100 to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have empowered school boards to fire teachers for homosexuality. White hired a homosexual as his campaign manager and voted as a city supervisor to fund a Pride Center for homosexuals. White wasn’t driven to murder by Milk’s vision of gay rights but rather by something more pedestrian: the petty politics of City Hall. What makes for good history doesn’t always lend itself to good theater.
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Nine days prior to Milk’s death, more than 900 followers of Jim Jones—many of them campaign workers for Milk—perished in the most ghastly set of murder-suicides in modern history. Before the congregants of the Peoples Temple drank Jim Jones’s deadly Kool-Aid, Harvey Milk and much of San Francisco’s ruling class had already figuratively imbibed. Milk occasionally spoke at Jones’s San Francisco–based headquarters, promoted Jones through his newspaper columns, and defended the Peoples Temple from its growing legion of critics. Jones provided conscripted “volunteers” for Milk’s campaigns to distribute leaflets by the tens of thousands. Milk returned the favor by abusing his position of public trust on behalf of Jones’s criminal endeavors.
“Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities here and elsewhere as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness,” Supervisor Milk wrote President Jimmy Carter seven months before the Jonestown carnage. The purpose of Milk’s letter was to aid and abet his powerful supporter’s abduction of a six-year-old boy. Milk’s missive to the president prophetically continued: “Not only is the life of a child at stake, who currently has loving and protective parents in the Rev. and Mrs. Jones, but our official relations with Guyana could stand to be jeopardized, to the potentially great embarrassment of our State Department.” John Stoen, the boy whose actual parents Milk libeled to the president as purveyors of “bold-faced lies” and blackmail attempts, perished at Jonestown. This, the only remarkable episode in Milk’s brief tenure on the San Francisco board of supervisors, is swept under the rug by his hagiographers.
Is Harvey Milk deserving of recognition by the United States Postal Service? We report you decide.
EDITORS NOTE: Daniel J. Flynn, the author of A Conservative History of the American Left, blogs at www.FlynnFiles.com. The featured image is courtesy of KRON 4
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