So, is Moore just another crackpot peddling a self-published screed? Hardly.
It would be tempting to dismiss Moore, who in addition to her latest apologia has authored such titles as A Sympathetic History of Jonestown and In Defense of Peoples Temple. But like the group whose reputation she seeks to resuscitate, Moore does not operate on the margins, however marginal her views. She chairs the department of religious studies at San Diego State. When the subject of Jonestown arises, as it did recently on the 30th anniversary of the events, media outlets solicit her expertise. Stanley Nelson’s PBS documentary “The Life and Death of Peoples Temple,” for instance, featured Moore as a talking head. And she published this latest book not out of her garage but through Praeger, a respected imprint of a major publishing house. However reassuring it is to believe that all cranks are tinfoil-hatted denizens of the furthest recesses of the Internet, the examples of Jones, the darling of the San Francisco power structure, and of Moore, a tenured, media-designated authority, prove that what’s comforting isn’t always what’s true.There is virtually no concept, ideology or historical incident that is so insane, asinine and bloodthirsty that you can’t find a well-placed intellectual who is willing to defend it. I sometimes feel as though our society would be far better off if we closed half of the colleges and universities and replaced them with plumbing and carpentry schools.