last week white house environmental adviser van jones resigned from his gig as obama's green jobs czar. some republican leaders actively sought his demise amid revelations (some deem controversial) from his past activism, all of which caught white house officials off guard. jones joined the administration in march as special adviser to the council on environmental quality. as he did not report directly to obama, he did not require senate conformation and avoided the kind of vetting cabinet officials are generally accustomed to.
after jones stepped down from a progressive post many were excited about he said, "on the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. they are using lies and distortions to distract and divide." jones continued, "i have been inundated with calls from across the political spectrum urging me to stay and fight, but i came here to fight for others, not for myself. i cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. we need all hands on deck fighting for the future."
in recent days jones had issued a couple of public apologies, one, for signing a petition in 2004 from the group 911 truth.org. the embattled group questioned whether bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." the other apology he offered was for using a crude term to describe republicans in a speech he gave before joining the obama administration. of course, some will question the sincerity and timing of his apologies, but i digress.
another source of contention was jones' brief involvement with the bay area group, standing together to organize a revolutionary movement (storm), a group which was allegedly influenced by marxism. additionally, jones admitted he's a staunch advocate and supporter of political prisoner mumia abu-jamal, the brilliant and profilic brotha institutionalized on death row (falsely) convicted of killing a philadelphia cop in 1981.
fox news channel host glenn beck, who recently warranted national attention for calling obama a racist, led the charges against jones after a group jones founded in 2005, colorofchange.org, organized a successful advertising boycott for beck's show specifically due to his callous attack on the president. rep. mike pence (r-ind.) ushered the call for jones' resignation stating, "his extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or this debate."
senator christopher s. bond (r-mo.) urged congress to examine jones' "fitness" for the position. in an open letter, bond wrote, "can the american people trust a senior white house official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?" echoing bond's concerns was senator john cornyn (r-tex.), chairman of the national republican senatorial committee. cornyn wrote on his twitter account, "van jones has got to go."
on fox news sunday, senator lamar alexander (r-tenn.) and former house speaker newt gingrich declined to criticize jones directly but alexander questioned why the obama administration appointed so many czars. "i don't think he's the issue...i think the czars are the issue," alexander said. former vermont governor howard dean, who (also) signed the 9/11 truth.org petition - admittedly by mistake - said of jones' resignation, "i think he was brought down...it's too bad...it's a loss for the country."
white house adviser david axelrod appeared on nbc's 'meet the press' sunday and mentioned he had not spoken with obama about jones' decision. axelrod said, "the political environment is rough, and so these things get magnified...but the bottom line is that he showed his commitment to the cause of creating green jobs in this country by removing himself as an issue and i think that took a great deal of commitment on his part."
jones' meteoric rise to national prominence in the environmental movement is a unique commentary for a strong black man in a conservative multicultural society. he was a civil-rights activist in california before shifting his focus to energy and environmental issues exclusively. jones was respected for articulating, organizing and strategizing a broad visionary plan for green jobs in a manner ordinary folk could embrace and feel inspired by pre-obama. he undoubtedly benefited from a yes we can america. yet less than six months on the job many republicans are saying, no you can't.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.