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Van Jones Victimized By New Red Scare

By       Message Jonathan Nack     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 9/22/09

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The resignation of Van Jones from his position as President Barack Obama's Green Jobs Czar was the culmination of an intense campaign of red-baiting propaganda aimed at him by the radical right. That Jones was coerced to resign, should have come as no surprise. It was actually predictable.

Predictable, anyway, to those who understand that Cold War anti-communism, in other words McCarthyism, still defines the bounds of acceptable politics in this country.

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The attacks on Jones were, of course, also blows aimed at the Green and environmental justice movements, young activists of color, and the Obama Administration. A classic McCarthyite strategy -- oppose social movements through red-baiting leaders.

Glen Beck, the radical rightwing television and radio demagogue, led the charge against Jones. Beck accused Jones of being a "self-avowed communist" and a "radical Marxist" and a "revolutionary". He provided audio and video evidence of Jones' past public remarks, in which Jones describes himself as all that and more. Beck charged Jones was using the Green Jobs movement to infiltrate the government.

Beck, the Fox Network, and the radical right media hammered the Obama Administration intensely for weeks over Jones. They honed in on Jones having signed a petition demanding an inquiry into what the government knew about the plot that caused 9/11 prior to that terrible day. Jones was also accused of calling for the freedom of Mumia Abu Jamal. Then they found a recent clip of Jones calling Republicans "a**holes".

Neither President Obama nor any other politician of stature rose to Jones' defense. How could they?The charges were in their views indefensible and proven. The very facts that Jones had so recently called himself a revolutionary and a communist, that he had questioned what was known beforehand of the the conspiracy that resulted in 9/11, or fight for the freedom of a convicted cop killer, were all proof enough for them that Jones' judgment and suitability are in question.

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It didn't matter that the main source of the attacks on Jones came from Beck, the face of proto-fascism in America, backed up by the Fox News Network - the closet thing yet to a fascist T. V. network. Forget that to cave in to these right-wing demagogues is exactly the wrong way to respond to this type of McCarthyism.

Never mind that Jones' expert knowledge, proven managerial skills, and leadership abilities made him perfectly qualified for the job.

Pres. Obama and the Democrats promptly thanked Jones for doing the right thing in resigning in the interests of the Green Jobs programs.

To his great credit, Jones has not denounced his past radical views. Whether or not his views have changed, as many people's do, and to what extent, are besides the point.

The other day, I received an email which contained an open letter from Jones to his supporters, dated September 15th. Jones calls on them to continue to support Pres. Obama, Green Jobs initiatives, and even weighs-in in support of Obama's health care proposal.

Jones writes that Obama's election was not the "finish line", but the "starting line" in "the fight to renew America." Jones explains his silence since his resignation on Sept. 6, "I have remained silent since then - in keeping with my promise not to be a distraction during a key moment in the Obama Presidency. He says, "[i]n due course, I will be offering my perspective on what has happened - including correcting the record about false charges."

Van Jones was way too radical for the government crowd. Fighters for social justice and truth tellers can only get themselves into trouble in that great fraternity. Radical leftist are pariahs. Meanwhile, radical rightists, such as Beck, are not only welcome in Washington, but play a privileged role as attack dogs for the Republican Party,

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Who is Van Jones? Who is this man Washington politicians uniformly reject?

I know a little something about him. I've known him for well over a decade as a fellow activist in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've never known Van Jones well, but have met him many times and attended numerous rallies, marches, forums, and meetings he's spoken at, organized, and led.

Over a stretch of years I supported many projects Jones initiated and played a leadership role in, including the non-profit Ella Baker Center for Social Justice, which is based in my hometown of Oakland.

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Jonathan Nack has been a journalist and activist since 1984. He resides in Oakland, California.

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