Per my post and announcement last night, here's the clip of my CNN debate with David Frum about the Van Jones affair this morning. Notice that Frum has no answer for the obvious double standards. Somehow, nobody gets fired for lying us into Iraq, Tim Geithner keeps his job after tax evasion and gift scandals, Republican Congresspeople remain credible while championing the "birther" lunacy -- but Van Jones must be fired for carelessly signing a petition years ago, which he later apologized for.
As I said on CNN, the hypocrisy uncovers the real truth of this whole affair: Van Jones was targeted by the political terrorist known as Glenn Beck -- the man who leads a 21st century lynch mob looking to hunt down anyone (and especially anyone black) who has ever been a part of progressive movement politics. I don't use that term "political terrorist" lightly. According to the dictionary, a terrorist is "a person who terrorizes or frightens others" -- and usually does so with an ideological objective. There are, of course, many different kinds of terrorists, and I'd say Beck -- with his fearmongering, paranoia and hate -- fits the letter and spirit of the dictionary definition of a political terrorist quite well. Indeed, just listen to this clip or look at this not-so-veiled threat and then try to claim with a straight face that Beck isn't explicitly using the mass media to scare and terrorize people.
In placating the demands of this terrorist and his lynch mob, the Obama administration has simultaneously empowered that terrorist and that lynch mob, while abandoning its own progressive base. (And yes, yes -- I know saying that makes the sycophants upset. I know it means I'll get a lot of irritating email saying, "I guess you wanted McCain!" or "You're going to get us President Romney in 2012!" - as if the progressive movement exists solely to worship at the feet of politicians with a "D" behind their name. That's fine -- that kind of cultism is everywhere in the American Idiocracy, and I've got my "delete" key fired up and ready to go).
I am at once loathe to help fuel this media-manufactured controversy and eager to use this as a kind of "teachable moment" that Obama talks about, but rarely delivers on. If we as a movement cannot stand up for a genuine progressive hero like Van Jones -- a guy with a towering record of real-world accomplishment on behalf of issues and grassroots communities -- then we will not be able to stand up for anything, much less major legislative initiatives.
The multi-million-dollar Washington-based "progressive" organizations that previously used Van Jones to stress their environmental and racial progressivism haven't strongly spoken out about Jones and about the White House's failure to back him. Indeed, most of those organizations have issued mealy-mouthed statements praising Jones but giving their friends in the White House a pass. This is par for the course, unfortunately. As I wrote in my newspaper column this week, and as Jane Hamsher has so effectively shown, these institutions are still too concerned with their White House access than in building a real movement.
So if I can do my own little part to take up the slack through the media, I will -- even if it means I will inevitably be targeted by that same right-wing lynch mob.
Of course, perhaps the Jones affair is the canary in the coal mine. Maybe the White House's refusal to stand by Jones and willingness to accept the demands of right-wing political terrorists is a symptom of the bigger disease whereby the Obama is already selling out progressives on every major priority. Perhaps, in short, Jones isn't the issue -- and what his firing represents is.
I fear that is the case -- certainly the Obama administration's behavior on everything from health care to climate change to war suggests that's what's going on. And if that's true, then we've got a huge problem on our hands.