When it comes to talking politics today you have no doubt heard the expression "drink the Kool-Aid".  Generally it means that you are being accused of having gone all in on something that the person accusing you of drinking said Kool-Aid, feels is bad, wrong or is a losing cause.

If you are over fifty or a student of history you may know where the saying comes from.  If not, let's take a short trip down memory lane on this date,  November 18, 2020, the 42nd anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre.

On Nov.18,1978, 913 members of the People's Temple cult led by Jim Jones died in a night of mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.

In 2012 the Atlantic Magazine ran a piece that reminded us all of what lead up to the negativity the accompanies the phrase "drink the Kool-Aid".

In 1977,cult leader Jim Jones moved the Peoples Temple and its members to a settlement he had been building since 1974 in the South American nation of Guyana. He named it "Jonestown," and it was not a nice place. It occupied nearly 4,000 acres, had poor soil and limited fresh water, was dramatically overcrowded, and Temple members were forced to work long hours.

In November of 1978,California Congressman Leo Ryan(D) visited Jonestown to investigate allegations of human rights abuses within the Jonestown community. About  a dozen Temple members  wanted to leave and passed a note reading "Please help us get out of Jonestown "

Ryan's party drove to a nearby airstrip hoping to leave. But Jim Jones sent armed Temple members called the Red Brigade to head them off.  They opened fire, killing Ryan, a Jonestown defector, three members of the media and injuring eleven others.

The Atlantic reports what happened next.  " Jones offered Temple members these choices: stay and fight ..... head for the USSR, head for the Guyana jungle, or commit "revolutionary suicide" (in other words, mass suicide as an act of political protest). On previous occasions when Temple members mock-voted for suicide, Jones tested them: Temple members were given small cups of liquid purportedly containing poison, and were asked to drink it. They did. After a while, Jones revealed that the liquid didn't contain poison -- but that one day it would."

November 18th would be that day.
"Jim Jones ordered Temple members to create a fruity mix containing a cocktail of chemicals including cyanide, diazepam (aka Valium -- an anti-anxiety medication), promethazine (aka Phenergan -- a sedative), chloral hydrate (a sedative/hypnotic sometimes called "knockout drops"), and most interestingly... Flavor Aid -- a grape-flavored beverage similar to Kool-Aid. "

The members ultimately chose to commit suicide in order to make a political point and the next day found 913 people dead including more than 300 children.

SO that's where it comes from... the phrase "drink the Kool-Aid"(even though it was actually Flavor Aid) became a popular term for willing blind obedience 42 years ago today.


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