Creative Commons License

Weil: Silly Politics Forced Van Jones’ Resignation

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 09:24 AM EDT

Just as John Mackey’s statements about health care reform in the Wall Street Journal caused a firestorm of criticism that sparked what I consider to be a misguided boycott of Whole Foods by many on the left (see my blog posts here and here), now the right has caused the resignation of Van Jones as a green jobs advisor to President Obama – a terrible loss instigated by what I consider irrelevant and misguided reasons.

Van Jones, a lawyer, civil rights activist, author of The Green Collar Economy, and environmental/social justice changemaker, was the perfect pick as a green jobs advisor to President Obama. Jones has been promoting a green collar economy that will simultaneously put people to work in well-paying green jobs while solving environmental challenges. The environmental movement has been blessed with a brilliant, forward-thinking solutionary whose ideas have the power to speed a lasting economic recovery while at the same time preventing further environmental degradation and creating a shift toward sustainable systems. Jones has been promoting one of the most important, reasonable, practical win-win answers of our time.

But because Jones signed a petition five years ago calling upon Congress to look into the possibility that members of the Bush administration had prior knowledge about 9/11 that they withheld, and because he has criticized Republicans, and because he has committed other “liberal faux pas,” Jones has been effectively castrated in his role. Although he apologized for signing the petition and making some past statements, in the end, he was ostensibly bullied into resigning, or else weaken the potential effectiveness he has worked so hard to realize.

I don’t believe there was any U.S. conspiracy behind 9/11, and I don’t believe that the Bush administration allowed the terrorist attacks to occur to justify a war against Iraq, and I was surprised that Van Jones signed the petition that he did (although I have probably signed many petitions that, on the surface, seemed aligned with my values — doing so while I was rushing and not thorough in reading the petition carefully). But so what? What does his signing such a petition or criticizing Republicans have to do with advising the current administration on his area of expertise which could, if enacted, put U.S. citizens back to work in stable, well-paying jobs that bring about a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable, restored world?

Just as I couldn’t see a reasonable connection between John Mackey’s opinion on health care reform and a boycott of a grocery chain that offers healthier, more sustainable, and more humane foods and products, I cannot see a meaningful connection between Van Jones’ past and possibly flippant comments about Republicans and his signing of a misguided petition with his work to create green jobs and better environmental systems.

It was a very sad day in this country when Van Jones resigned. We lost a rare advisor in politics: someone with remarkable vision who knows how to put that vision into practice in ways that help everyone and hurt no one. I am appalled by those who brought Jones down. They, we, and the environment all lose because of such silliness.

~ Zoe

Image courtesy Creative Commons: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Like my blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.