by Latoya Peterson
Over the weekend, I received the following email from Green For All:
Late last night, Van Jones resigned from his position with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Many of us are left with pain and anger after seeing a leader of integrity, vision, and commitment targeted by hateful personal attacks. Van stepped down in service to our movement. He felt that fighting the attacks would draw attention to him and detract from our mission.
Now, our challenge is to turn our disappointment and anger into action and renewed resolve for our common goals.
Like the great social justice movements of the 20th century, our movement for an inclusive green economy is based in the most fundamental American values: equality, justice, and opportunity for all.
That’s why our opponents reduced the debate to fear, hatred, and division. They cannot win a debate about values. They cannot win a debate about solutions.
Our allies and friends may be redirected by these attacks, and focus on the rants of those who fear our vision. For Green For All, our struggle must be defined by the issues our opponents refuse to debate: ending global warming; lifting people out of poverty; restoring the economy; and bringing health to our communities. These are the challenges that matter the most.
Parnee over at Gawker has a good summary on why Jones was singled out:
[F]or both his activism and his charm he was rewarded with a White House job with the Council on Environmental Quality. He was tasked with making sure stimulus money for green jobs actually went to green jobs. And he’s a great person to have in this administration—he is a genuine environmentalist and the only special interest he’s beholden to is poor people. He is the sort of person we were all praying Obama would bring with him to DC, instead of Larry Summers.
And that is one of the reasons he is now being ritually and savagely demonized.
To understand why and how he’s being demonized, we have to look at the way information and misinformation makes it way from crazy blogs to crazy pundits to crazy citizens to, suddenly, the non-crazy regular media.
The “why” is simple: he is a genuine left-wing liberal with a White House job. He is black. He used to be radical, and probably still has radical sympathies (you know, caring about poor black people and all that). He is, in other words, fucking terrifying, if you frame his story right.
Parnee goes on to explain that Van Jones’ platform isn’t even being considered by his opponents. It’s all about his past – and specifically, as a Communist addition to Obama’s cabinet. (Which I am sure Jones found an interesting charge as he was clear about being a Marxist.) It was a blatant political play, and Jones stepped down.
This saddens me for many reasons, but most notably for the fact that someone with a good vision, a commitment to ending poverty, and ideas on how to shift environmentalism away from consumption and toward community based initiatives was targeted specifically to score points against Obama. It’s disgusting.
In Jones’ own words:
“I didn’t start out as an environmentalist. I started out helping urban kids in trouble and I burned out, going to way too many funerals and court cases that turned out badly,” Jones said in an interview. “I was just trying to get my own health back.”
“I went to these retreat Centers in Marin County, and it was a different world. They had all this organic food and solar panels and hybrid cars, and I was like — why don’t they have this in my neighborhood?” Jones said. “I thought, if we had these kind of jobs and services in Oakland, we’d probably have less violence. So I came up with a slogan: Green jobs, not jails.”