Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh Man, Van

I'd only just begun to focus any of my attention on Van Jones, and then suddenly he was at the center of an effort by Glenn Beck and his lot to achieve his ouster. Clearly, that effort won out, and Jones resigned his position as the "Green Jobs Czar" this weekend.

Now, let's put aside the fact that Jones was a co-founder of the group Color of Change, which has successfully persuaded more than 50 advertisers to end their associations with Beck's show (for calling Obama a "racist" and a person with a "deep hatred for white culture"), because that couldn't have been Beck's motivation to save the nation from Jones. Perhaps, it was Jones association with Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM) that really peaked Beck's interest (and maybe the fact that Jones called the GOP "assholes" in explaining how the party achieves its ends).

After reading about the ideas of STORM, I have to admit that it's not my cup of tea. But, if I recall properly, Jones left those politics behind. What I am missing is what this has to do directly with the job that Jones left, the development of green jobs. Have we returned to the mid-20th century, when the very idea of "Communist sympathies" was enough to ruin a career, whether real or imagined? Is that a Beck-ian goal, an effort to return to the "traditional" values of the last century?

I am also missing how the activities of those who flirted with, or even joined the Communist Party, are being held to standards that are reserved for say white supremacist groups or radical Islamic groups. I'll even go so far to say that the actions of Bill Ayers and Senator Robert Byrd (a repentant Klan member, but a former Klan member nonetheless) were by far more egregious and wrong than what I've read about the activities of Van Jones.

I am beginning to wonder if people who have participated in truly left wing organizations are going to be "banned" from participating in government in the very near future, wondering if that is the actual goal of some on the right. David Sirota suggests that we seem to be heading in that direction in this post that he did on the Jones situation on "Huffington Post."

If we elect to use similar standards across the political spectrum, then there might be a fair few on the right who should be worried about their past associations. At this point, if one thing in Washington is clear, tit for tat is the rule of the game. If we are lucky, then maybe Beck will be submitting a resignation soon too.

UPDATE: I was just reminded of something from the first comment (thanks Scott). What I did not add in this post is the fact that I think that the notion that the U.S. government had anything to do with orchestration of the events of 9/11 is STUPID from the off. It is the one area where I think that Jones' political past was in fact a problem. With that said, I still think that a larger question remains with regard to how political activity on the left will be viewed with regard to public service vis a vis political activity on the right. There seems to remain a presumption that all things left are inherently bad for the nation, and all things right are patriotism personified. That is a problem.


Scott said...

In general I agree with you Free, some past actions--long past--that have been not only discontinued but renounced by the actor (Byrd and the KKK for example) should not disqualify someone from holding a position of responsibility in government.

But on the subject of Mr. Jones, I'm gonna have to disagree with you. The guy had to go.

If a Bush adviser was on tape calling Democrats "assholes," and had signed a petition calling for the "investigation" of "evidence that suggests" that, say, Hillary Clinton had murdered Vince Foster--do you imagine he could have stayed on? Would we on the left have bought the argument that he "didn't really read" the petition?

What is a shame is that this should have been caught up in the vetting process.

Clancy said...

I agree with Scott. Signing a Truther petition did seem rather repugnant, and his excuse was rather flimsy (it smelled like a lie). I might have considered having Jones stay if he'd just waved it off as a "youthful indiscretion," but as it stood, he was becoming a distraction that wasn't worth fighting. This isn't a victory for the Becks of the country as it is a loss for Jones, who couldn't provide an adequate answer to very real questions, even if they were formulated by asshats.

I do think it is bizarre that there are people that still care about relationships with "radical" organizations when that radical-ness is defined by some standard established in the 1950s and not something a little more contemporaneous, like a militia, an al-Qaeda front organization, or even ELF. My reaction, and that of all thinking people, should be to laugh at these morons: "Communism? Really? Where is your head, 1953? The Cold War is over." If this is the route they want to go, I have no problem re-investigating the relationships of these folks with radical domestic terrorist organizations (such as militias, the Klan, those wacky border protection nuts, or the CCC).

hscfree said...

Scott, you reminded me of something that I forgot to include, so I added an update to the blog.

Regarding Jones, I am just learning about the guy, but I do wonder if he'd made it clear to the administration that he'd renounced his position on 9/11. I have no idea, and if he had not, then Obama really needs to review a clearly broken vetting system.

I will concede that you could be right on the comment (Trent Lott comes to mind, though he only resigned his leadership position, not his Senate seat, if I recall correctly). On the Vince Foster thing, I think that there were a solid number of folks on the right who didn't need to sign a petition; they openly parroted that notion to play to their supporters who loathed the Clintons.

I think that there can be a bit of a double standard played here. I think that more people on the right tend to get away with transgressions than those on the left, deserved or not.

If Jones really did believe the 9/11 conspiracy madness, then I will concede that he indeed needed to go.

hscfree said...

Thanks for the comment Clancy. You'll see my comment.

Clancy said...

Of course, it's important to remember that Truthers were not necessarily from the left side of the political spectrum. While a good number of people ended up there, largely out of their disgust with Bush, in my experience with these people I found that they ran the gamut of politics, with most actually occupying the fringe of libertarianism.