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WASHINGTON — Forty years ago last Sunday, more than 900 men, women and children killed themselves or were murdered in Jonestown, Guyana.

Yet the deaths were not over. In San Francisco, the hometown of Jonestown’s colony of death, there were still more deaths to be carried out. Harvey Milk, a local political charlatan, and George Moscone, San Francisco’s mayor, would be gunned down nine days later. It was all part of a festival of carnage that was going on in the City by the Bay.

Jonestown was the dream of the Rev. Jim Jones, a lunatic Marxist, an atheistic evangelical and a practiced spellbinder.

He was also a manipulator of famous leftist celebrities. Jane Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden (now deceased, once a Students for a Democratic Society leader) are believed to have signed a letter praising Jones’ church, the Peoples Temple, for its splendid acts of humanitarianism, its profession of a higher ethics and its utter innocence of any crimes alleged against it.

Most of the crimes’ victims were Jonestown’s poor. They were Jim Jones’ special clientele. He was supposedly a great friend of underprivileged persons of color. All his crimes against the faithful — Jones claimed supernatural powers — eventually were exposed, certainly in the aftermath of the Jonestown holocaust. Yet before they were exposed, San Francisco’s great and good befriended Jim Jones and his sociopaths.

Jane and Tom signed their letter about the time they sent me a Christmas card, which I have still. I have often wondered about their Christmas card to me. Why did they write it? I hardly knew Tom and had very limited knowledge of Jane. I knew she flew into North Vietnam to carouse with the enemy and otherwise had participated in protests. I had not even bought her book on fitness, but before Jonestown blew up, she wrote Jones and spoke seductively of joining the Peoples Temple.

The madness of Jonestown and Jones; and of Harvey Milk, Moscone and their assailant, Dan White, a protege of Dianne Feinstein, though the media made him out to be a man of the right, has all been captured by my friend Dan Flynn in a new book, “Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco.”

Along with Jane and Tom, Flynn writes, the signers of their letter read like a who’s who of the California left. There is Willie Brown of the California Assembly, and Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally. The celebrity Bay Area reporter Paul Avery signed it, too. But the aforementioned letter is only one endorsement. Jerry Brown, at the time governor of California and, incidentally, the governor to this day, spoke at the Peoples Temple. Jimmy Carter’s wife, Rosalynn Carter, appeared on a stage with Jones, and then there was the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen, at the time “the conscience” of San Francisco, if I am not mistaken. Caen spouted off regularly on Jones’ profound decency. Jones was portrayed as the pope of the Peoples Temple.

What is amazing about Flynn’s book is its revelations about how the California press, and eventually the national press, covered up Jones’ obvious evil. Moreover, readers will see how the Democratic Party and the Hollywood left played a role in Jones’ evil. The same symbiosis is at work on a national level, where the Democrats and the media downplay the excesses of their bully boys. Read Flynn and see how it worked in the City by the Bay.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator.