He was honored by Barack Obama with a posthumous Medal of Freedom.
He once described Jim Jones, who led more than 900 people to a cyanide massacre in Guyana, as “a man of the highest character” and said his social-problem remedies were “effective.”
He prompted a California-wide campaign for parents to withdraw their children from public schools.
And his biographer said of him: “It would be to boyish-looking men in their late teens and early 20s that Milk would be attracted for the rest of his life,” and “Harvey always had a penchant for young waifs with substance-abuse problems.”
Now Harvey Milk, the one-time San Francisco municipal official who earned fame by being the first openly homosexual elected politician in the city, is being honored by the U.S. Postal Service.
The agency announced several weeks ago the release of the “Harvey Milk Forever Stamp” and said its official first-day-of-issue ceremony would be May 22 at the White House.
There will be a special dedication ceremony in San Francisco on May 28.
The announcement called him “a visionary leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.”
And it continued: “Milk’s achievements gave hope and confidence to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the United States and elsewhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. Milk believed that government should represent all citizens, ensuring equality and providing needed services.”
But he was a controversial figure on several fronts.
WND reported when, after state officials in California designated a “Harvey Milk Day” in public schools, family groups organized to encourage parents to send their children to private schools, homeschools or church schools instead.
A leader in the effort was SaveCalifornia.com, whose president, Randy Thomasson, said, “Boycotting Harvey Milk Day and pulling their children out of the imploding government school system is the only way for parents to protect their girls and boys.”
Lawmakers who adopted the special recognition for Milk didn’t make a point of highlighting Milk’s ties to Jones, leader of the massacred hundreds in Jonestown.
Jones moved his cult from San Francisco to the “Peoples Temple Agricultural Project” in Guyana in the 1970s. On Nov. 18, 1978, 918 people, including 276 children, died in a “revolutionary suicide” led by Jones. Hours later, five people were murdered by Peoples Temple members at a nearby airport. One of the victims was Rep. Leo Ryan, the only member of Congress ever to die in the line of duty. He was investigating complaints from members who had left the cult of brutal beatings, murders and a mass-suicide plan.
Only nine months prior to the mass killing, amid pressure to investigate Jones’ cult, Milk wrote a Feb. 19, 1978, letter of support for the Peoples Temple to then-President Jimmy Carter:
He said Jones was known “as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness.”
Longtime WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving was a journalist for the San Francisco Examiner when Jones grew his cult in the city. In a column about the Sean Penn movie “Milk,” Kinsolving recalled the relationship between Jones and Milk.
Kinsolving cited columnist Dan Flynn’s point that director Gus Van Sant left out a important part of Milk’s story by not casting a Jim Jones character.
The Flynn column accused Milk and “the San Francisco left” of allowing Jones to conduct his “criminal enterprise in San Francisco with impunity.”
“When veteran journalist Les Kinsolving penned an eight-part investigative report on Peoples Temple for the San Francisco Examiner in 1972, his editors buckled under pressure from Jones and killed the report halfway through,” wrote Flynn. “Kinsolving quipped that the Peoples Temple was ‘the best-armed house of God in the land,’ detailed the kidnapping and possible murder of disgruntled members, exposed Jones’ phony faith healing, highlighted Jones’ vile school-sanctioned sex talk with children and directed attention toward the Peoples Temple’s massive welfare fraud that funded its operations.
“Unfortunately four of the series of eight articles were jettisoned after Jones unleashed hundreds of protesters to the San Francisco Examiner, a programmed letter-writing campaign and a threatened lawsuit against the paper. The Examiner promptly issued a laudatory article on Jones,” wrote Flynn.
Kinsolving’s column noted that after Milk was killed, all mention of connections between Milk and Jones “were intentionally obscured.”
As WND reported, Randy Shilts, a homosexual San Francisco Chronicle reporter, wrote a favorable and telling biography of Milk called “The Mayor of Castro Street.”
Thomasson delivered copies of pages in the 1982 book to members of the California Assembly. The book describes Milk’s sexual relationships with a 16-year-old, a 19-year-old and other young men.
According to the book: “Sixteen-year-old McKinley was looking for some kind of father figure. … At thirty-three, Milk was launching a new life, though he could hardly have imagined the unlikely direction toward which his new lover would pull him.”
When Obama gave Milk the Medal of Freedom, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was unable to say whether Obama had access to information about Milk’s well-documented advocacy for Jones.
WND columnist Matt Barber, when the stamp plans were announced several weeks ago, tried to track back through Milk’s accomplishments.
“Harvey Milk’s only claim to fame is that he was the first openly homosexual candidate to be elected to public office (San Francisco city commissioner). His chief cause was to do away with the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic. In 1978 Milk was murdered over a non-related political dispute by fellow Democrat Dan White,” he wrote.
“And a ‘progressive’ martyr was born.”
He described Milk as “both a pederast and, by extension, a statutory rapist.”
Mostly bloggers of the left-leaning persuasion erupted, he noted.
“Here’s what’s especially telling about their reaction. Not one of the dozen-or-more publications that reported on my comments even challenged their veracity. Not one attempted to refute or deny that Harvey Milk was, in fact, a pederast and a sexual predator.”