Photo via Life is Living
Most of you likely know the story of Van Jones by now--how, after being appointed to the position of Green Jobs Advisor in the Obama Administration, a series of attacks from right wingers, especially Glenn Beck, on his activist past led to his untimely resignation. Those who follow green goings-on, of course, know him as one of the finest proponents for green jobs and clean energy there is. Jones stayed quiet for a long stretch after his resignation so as not to be a "distraction" to the president's agenda. Now, he's finally resurfaced, and is back to pushing for a triple bottom line solution to our nation's social, environmental, and economic woes. Grist's Dave Roberts interviewed Jones, where he cleared the air on a number of issues:If you recall, Jones was Beck's first victim during the period a while back when he was going on about the nefariousness of Obama's czars (even though Bush had them too). He found Jones had a colorful background in activism, had made comments supporting the ideology of communism (as a very young man), and had inadvertently expressed support for the 9/11 Truther movement--in other words, a veritable feeding ground for Beck's paranoid fantasies. After Beck harped on these relentlessly, Jones decided it'd be best for the administration if he stepped down--so he did.
Here are a couple of intriguing snippets from Jones' interview with Roberts, but the entire interview makes for a worthy read.
Q. Are you angry about what happened?And on the hot-button communism issue:
A. What I try to remember is that the whole country's going through a process. We're going to be a very different country in 20 years. That brings up a lot of fear and a lot of anger. People on both sides of the political spectrum are going to make mistakes. In my heart, I see these noisy attacks on me as friendly fire. These are my fellow countrymen and women, who don't want to see this country continue to suffer. I feel exactly the same way.
Q:Are you a communist?Again, check out the whole thing at Grist.
A. No, I'm not. That's the plain reading of the article everybody points to, where I talked about how those ideas were part of my past. I gave a speech at the Network of Spiritual Progressives in 2005 where I talked about the fact that I literally, physically burned out on the politics of outrage and confrontation. For the better part of a decade, I've been the No. 1 champion of free-market solutions for poor people and the environment. I have a best-selling book and hundreds of speeches and interviews that attest to that.
That said, I'm never going to apologize for my passion for the underdog, in this economy and the next one. The government has a role to play. It's got to get on the side of the problem-solvers. The big polluters still get all the breaks; that's got to stop.