Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Meet the Cult Leader: Hawaii Resort Developer Teams Up with Arianna Huffington
By Selected News Articles @ 4:42 PM :: 9723 Views :: Ethics, Development, Pierre Omidyar
In his continuing greenwash efforts, billionaire luxury resort developer Pierre Omidyar is teaming up with Arianna Huffington to create HuffPo Hawaii. Will this help Pierre get the bulldozers moving in Hanalei?
The announcement came with a big splash on Omidyar's Civil Beat website this morning:
In order to properly greet Huffington to the Isles, we present readers with some of the best material out there on this very strange bird:
GAWKER: Arianna's Mandatory Cult Meetings
…while Huffington is reported, including by the New Yorker, to give to 10 percent of her income to charity each year, that money flows as a tithe to MSIA, and/or to charities closely linked to the cult. That would be in keeping with church principles, as described in a lengthy 1988 LA Times article….
People: Cult Leader John-Roger, Who Says He's Inhabited by a Divine Spirit, Stands Accused of a Campaign of Hate
Susan Whitmore finally decided that her guru, John-Roger, was no man of God the day her husband's life was threatened. In fact, the evidence had been accumulating for some time. Six months earlier, Susan's husband, Wendell Whitmore, now 42, and his twin brother, Wesley, had left John-Roger's Los Angeles-based Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA), denouncing its founder as a fraud. Since then they had been subjected to a campaign of hate mail, vandalism and death threats. Still, Susan believed she could confront J-R, as his followers call him, and reason with him.
John-Roger agreed to meet with her in January 1984, but his message was hardly encouraging. "He told me that the vandalism was a warning and that he was personally touched that someone loved him enough to do it," says Susan, 37. "He informed me that some people wanted to kill Wendell and Wesley. He spent 10 minutes telling me how they were going to make it look like a car accident. He said that no one would be able to trace it back to him." ….
The Whitmores, who joined MSIA during the heyday of California enlightenment in the early '70s, decided to leave in 1983. They could no longer deny their burgeoning doubts after several male staffers confessed during an informal group discussion that J-R had used spiritual threats and promises to elicit sexual favors from them. J-R's followers had been encouraged to believe that their master had taken a vow of celibacy, so the succession of attractive young men who shared his opulent Southern California house had apparently aroused little suspicion. "He always had someone sleeping in his bedroom at night, supposedly to protect his body while he was out of it," says Wesley Whitmore, now a graduate student in psychology. A MSIA spokesman denies that John-Roger ever took a vow of sexual abstinence.
Those who complied with J-R's sexual advances were reportedly promoted to positions of authority and praised for their spiritual qualities. Victor Toso, 34, now living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married, says he was not homosexual but that he consented to J-R's requests for sex because he feared being kicked off the MSIA staff. "Whenever we fell out of line, having another sexual encounter with him was sort of required to seal us back in the brotherhood," says Toso.
SHAME: ARIANNA'S RECOVERED HISTORY: PLAGIARISM, HUCKSTERISM & CULTS
- Arianna’s debut book in 1973, The Female Woman: An Argument Against Women’s Liberation for Female Emancipation, was a “counter-attack” against the Women’s Liberation movement, which she dismissed as "repulsive... entirely destructive and vacuous.” She equated Women’s Lib to Nazism, and argued that it served the radical homosexual agenda against traditional womanhood: “Both the Nazis and Women’s Lib see the family as a political battleground and both despise the distinctively female virtues that the family epitomizes,” she wrote. "Women's Lib claims ...it would transform the lives of all women for the better, the truth is that it would transform only the lives of women with strong lesbian tendencies.”
- Arianna's second book, After Reason (1978), denounced social security as "a channel of subliminal manipulation" and charged "the welfare state has paved the way to the new totalitarianism." She pushed for eliminating all government social programs—which she called “welfare totalitarianism"—to be replaced by individual spiritualism and volunteerism. The Kochs’ Reason Magazine hailed Arianna as "an essential ally of libertarians" who "is to be congratulated on her able and thorough attack on collectivism."
- In the 1970s, Arianna became involved in the rightwing New Age Rajneesh cult led by “sex guru” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a promoter of free-market capitalism, an admirer of Hitler, and onetime owner of the world's largest fleet of Rolls Royces. In the mid-1980s, the Rajneesh was involved in the first-ever bioterrorism attack on US soil, poisoning over 700 Oregonians on voting day in order to control the local vote in the cult's district. The Rajneesh was arrested along with top aides and deported.
- In 1978, Arianna was ordained as a minister in a New Age cult led by a former insurance claims adjuster who called himself "John-Roger" and who claims he is more powerful than Jesus Christ. According to the Los Angeles Times, as well as a 1994 TV news investigation, former followers of John-Roger's cult "claimed he engaged in sexual harassment, intimidation of those who tried to leave the cult, and lived a lavish lifestyle at the movement's expense." "John-Roger" was also accused of using eavesdropping equipment to spy on his followers.
- Arianna rose to the rank of "Soul Initiate" in John-Roger’s Church of the Movement of Spiritual Awareness, and convinced Sen. Alan Cranston and other Congressmen to introduce national legislation officially commemorating John-Roger's birthday as "Integrity Day". In 2003, Arianna's ex-husband, former Republican Congressman Michael Huffington, told the New York Times that cult leader John-Roger "has more influence on [Arianna] than anyone else in the world."
- In 1994, Nightline's Ted Koppel talked with mental health counselor and cult specialist Steven Hassan about Arianna's involvement in John-Roger's Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, which according to Hassan displayed all the tell-tale signs of a cult: "A pyramid structured authoritarian regime that uses human recruitment and mind control techniques to keep people dependent and obedient. People are instilled with phobias. If they question John-Roger, if they ever leave the group terrible things will happen to them. Peter McWilliams, who's a New York Times best-selling author, writes in his recent book about how he was told by John-Roger that he had AIDS, but that if he wrote books for John-Roger, John-Roger would keep him alive."
- According to Vanity Fair reporter Maureen Orth, Arianna hired a private investigator to hound her and possibly smear her over her critical coverage. Arianna's ex-husband, Rep. Michael Huffington, told reporter David Brock that Arianna "often hired private investigators to collect dirt on her foes." Brock claimed Arianna passed him a "file" on one of her political rivals, Joe Gaylord, smearing him as a racist and homosexual.
- In 1980, Arianna moved to the United States to advance her literary career. She was accused of plagiarizing at least three of her books. Her bestselling biography, Maria Callas (1981), was so rife with passages directly lifted from another author that Arianna was forced to settle out of court for “a substantial settlement, although Arianna has maintained that the amount was only 'in the low five figures.'"
- Her next bestseller, “Picasso: Creator and Destroyer” (1987) was widely accused of plagiarizing the life work of University of Virginia art historian Lydia Gasman, who called Arianna Huffington an "intellectual kleptomaniac" for appropriating her 4-volume study on Picasso and publishing it just before Gasman's opus. "What she did was steal twenty years of my work," Gasman told Vanity Fair. [ 4 ]
- In 1986 Arianna married Texas oil heir Michael Huffington, whose father formed a shady partnership with Indonesian dictator Suharto in the 1970s. According to reporter Maureen Orth, cult leader John-Roger "guided her every step in her pursuit of [Michael] Huffington, including how to negotiate their prenuptial contract." Shortly after the marriage was consummated, Arianna repaid the favor at a cult retreat in upstate New York, telling followers: "Dahlings, if you want to marry a rich man like I did, then tithe up!"
- In 1992, Republican Michael Huffington spent a record $5.4 million to win a Congressional House seat representing Santa Barbara. Just two years later, at Arianna’s urging, Michael spent a record $28 million in a failed bid to become a Senator, narrowly losing to Democratic incumbent Diane Feinstein. New York Times columnist Frank Rich described candidate Michael Huffington as a "Manchurian Candidate."
- Michael’s political agenda, under Arianna's direction, included huge tax cuts, abolishing all government social programs including Social Security, Medicare and food stamps, to be replaced with voluntary "tithing"—echoing the John-Roger cult's use of "tithing" to describe charity and volunteerism. However, when asked by reporters about their volunteer work, Michael said he couldn't name a single example, while Arianna claimed she volunteered at a Santa Barbara homeless children's shelter. The shelter's director refuted Arianna's claim and accused her of "using needy children...for political gain, and it's really disgusting."
- Arianna developed a reputation for exploiting and abusing her mansion servants. At her D.C. residence, home servants told Vanity Fair they were treated "like slaves" and quit. At their $5 million Santa Barbara mansion, the Huffingtons were caught using illegal immigrant labor, even as Michael campaigned on a tough anti-illegal immigrant platform. Arianna told reporters: "This was not a case of cheap labor. This is a case of a family falling in love with another human being . . ."
- In 1995, Arianna continued attacking illegal immigrants: “The fact that they can come here, and whether they succeed or not, whether they can make a living or not, they can stay on welfare. This is what drives the Americans nuts . . . I'm talking about the fact that an illegal, pregnant woman can walk into any California doctor and get all the services paid for free. Yes, I am talking about that."
- Newt Gingrich brought Arianna, a columnist for the right-wing Moonie-owned Washington Times, into his brain-trust to help guide the Republican Revolution after their 1994 election victory. After joining a Gingrich front-group, Arianna co-founded the Center for Effective Compassion, a religious free-market outfit that served as "a conduit for right-wing dollars to reach strategic conservative causes."
- In 1997, writing for a publication of the American Enterprise Institute, Arianna Huffington called herself an "unrepentant and unreconstructed conservative." [ 5 ]
- A year later, in 1998, Arianna declared that she was “disillusioned with the 'intellectual bankruptcy’ of the GOP Congress.” Arianna credited comedian Al Franken, who "opened my eyes to what Gingrich and Limbaugh were really saying." In 2000, a skeptical Laura Flanders wondered, “Has this former Gingrich girl turned into a progressive populist?” The Nation's Katha Pollitt called Arianna "dishonest" and "manipulative," telling the LA Times, "I find it amazing that anyone would take her seriously."
- In 2003, Arianna ran for California governor on a platform of “cracking down on ‘fat-cat’ tax evaders." When the LA Times revealed that the Brentwood multimillionaire paid just $771 in federal taxes over the previous two years, and $0 in state taxes—and that her private corporation set up by her accountants paid zero dollars in federal taxes over the previous two years—Arianna responded, "There isn't any loophole here. There isn't any dodging here." The hypocrisy echoed the hypocrisy in her previous conservative incarnation in 1994, when Arianna preached a harsh anti-immigration platform while privately hiring illegal immigrants to serve her.