The San Francisco Board of Supervisors votes Tuesday on a measure to compel the city’s airport to spend over a million dollars to redo proposed signage plans calling Terminal One “Harvey Milk Terminal.”
Supervisor Hillary Ronen complains that San Francisco International Airport’s signage redesign does not showcase Harvey Milk’s name in large enough font.
“There has been another hiccup,” Ronen told the board on March 19. “Even though this law passed unanimously a year ago to change the name, the airport — and the airport did say that they would comply with the law—they have continuously undermined the intent. When they gave us a mockup of what the sign in front of the Harvey Milk Terminal would look like, it had ‘Terminal One’ in huge, massive lettering, and then, you know, maybe a quarter of the size, the ‘Harvey Milk Terminal.’ It almost looked like an asterisk. We felt the need to introduce legislation to return it to the original intention, which was to proudly and outly (sic) name this terminal after Harvey Milk.”
Allen Jones, a longtime San Francisco prison reform activist, finds the proposal petty and a waste of money.
“They weren’t satisfied with his name being on there,” Jones, a gay black man, tells The American Spectator. “They want to spend millions more to make it more prominent. I don’t think it should be there in the first place.”
Ronen’s legislation demands that “whenever signage identifying ‘Terminal 1’ appears on the interior or exterior of the terminal or airport, the words ‘Harvey Milk’ shall appear in equal or greater height.” She describes her efforts to get the airport to comply to the board’s wishes “a struggle” and “frustrating.”
Allen Jones’s objections involve Milk’s promotion of the Reverend Jim Jones, the architect of the murder of more than 900 people in Guyana nine days before Milk’s assassination (N.B.: the writer of this article authored the book, Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco). Specifically, Jones points to the lobbying-letter Milk wrote to President Jimmy Carter demanding that he not intervene to retrieve a six-year-old boy, John Victor Stoen, kidnapped by the cult leader from San Francisco and brought to Jonestown, Guyana.
In that letter, Milk described the boy’s mother as engaged in “blackmail,” the boy’s father as a teller of “bold-faced lies,” and the kidnapper as “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.” He touted media support for Jim Jones, writing: “The most widely-read columnist in the area, Herb Caen, printed Mr. Stoen’s sworn testimony that John is not his child but rather Rev. Jones[’s].”
Carter did as Milk asked by not intervening, despite a California court ordering Jones to return the boy. Along with 917 other people in Guyana, John Victor Stoen, far away from his mother and father, died on Jim Jones’s order on November 18, 1978. Back in San Francisco, Milk, Assemblyman Willie Brown, and Mayor George Moscone, three of the most exuberant champions of Jim Jones, rushed from the man they once rushed toward.
African Americans constituted the overwhelming majority of those killed in Jonestown, and Allen Jones, whose website describes various ways that San Francisco mistreats blacks (with an emphasis on the relocation of the Golden State Warriors from Oakland to San Francisco), describes the current outlay as another way that San Francisco favors abstract, ideological interests over its very real, and very much diminishing, black population.
“I don’t mind honoring a gay person,” Jones explains. “I just don’t want you spending millions of dollars to honor someone who does not deserve honor.”
Jones regards the late Oliver “Bill” Sipple, who knocked Sara Jane Moore’s aim off course when she fired a shot at President Gerald Ford on a 1975 trip to San Francisco, as a more fitting honoree than Milk, who surreptitiously outed the Vietnam veteran Sipple as a gay man to the press following his friend’s heroics.
He estimates that the airport shrine to Milk ultimately costs the taxpayers in excess of $6 million. The airport pegs the cost of the latest demands at $1.6 million.
“For all of these people saying that Harvey Milk was some sort of Gay Gandhi, I’m saying he was a politician who used people so we should not honor him in this fashion,” Jones tells The American Spectator. “His defense of Jim Jones may have contributed to the fact that this six-year-old boy left in Jones’s care was later murdered. The city is basically just trying to pander to the LGBTQ community here.”