Responding to the announcement that former White House green jobs advisor Van Jones will be the recipient this Friday of an NAACP Image Award, Fox News relaunched its smear campaign against the environmental leader. According to NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, Van Jones is an “American treasure” who has been “one of America’s most effective and inspiring bridge-builders,” finding “creative solutions to the ecological and economic crises.” However, the Fox & Friends morning show — hosted by Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade — took the announcement as an opportunity to run “some of his most spectacular sound bites that we’ve strung together in a montage form”:
. . . You’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child . . . the white polluters and the white environmentalists are basically steering poison into the people-of-color communities . . . Wait a minute, aren’t you an oil company? Aren’t you killing —s in Nigeria? Hold on a second . . . some cowboy cliques in the police department who have a frat boy mentality . . . the President of the United States sounded like a crack head . . . like a crack head trying to lick the crack pipe for a fix . . . the answer to that is they’re a—s. And Obama’s not an a—e . . .
It is certainly true that Van Jones has been a harsh, sometimes incendiary critic of polluters and social and racial injustice. But he has always confronted the difficult issues of race and pollution with humor and compassion:
“You’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child” Excerpted from a 2006 speech about social justice, Van Jones expresses his anger that both white and black young men are suffering in this country, and asks for concern, love, and compassion for young men.
“the white polluters and the white environmentalists are basically steering poison” Clipped from a January 2008 interview, Van Jones was explaining how the environmental movement evolved over the 20th century with the influence of Silent Spring and the environmental justice movement. He talks about how he is part of the “third wave” of environmentalism that is “solution oriented” and “investment oriented,” and how to make it “rainbow from the beginning.”
“Wait a minute, aren’t you an oil company? Aren’t you killing —s in Nigeria?” Date unknown. In a marginally longer excerpt used by Glenn Beck to connect progressives to terrorists, it is apparent Jones is criticizing the misleading greenwashing campaigns by companies like Royal Dutch Shell, who paid $15.5 million to settle lawsuits against the company for complicity in human rights abuses against the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta, including executions and torture.
“some cowboy cliques in the police department who have a frat boy mentality” In 2005, Bay Area Police Watch president Van Jones criticized members of the San Francisco Police Department who “ignored the diversity training” and created homophobic, misogynistic, and racist videos. Twenty officers were suspended, and the creator of the videos has since resigned. The chief of police called the videos “egregious, shameful, and despicable.”
“the President of the United States sounded like a crack head” Excerpted from his hour-long 2008 address to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Jones mocked President Bush for begging the king of Saudi Arabia to increase oil production. Before stepping down from his White House position, Van Jones apologized.
“the answer to that is they’re a—s” Cut from a February, 2009 lecture to the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative. Responding to a question about why Democrats “need” 60 senators to pass their agenda but Republicans didn’t, Jones explained that the Republicans are “assholes,” a “technical, political and scientific term” which he said also applies to himself. Before stepping down from his White House position, Van Jones apologized.
Not only were the Fox & Friends crew uninterested in context in their continued smear against Van Jones, they were unconcerned with accuracy. “Most of those were from before the time he was a green czar,” Doocy said, “and then of course they came to light and of course he had to resign from the Obama Cabinet.” In fact, Jones, who was never a member of the Cabinet, made none of the comments while at the White House.
More important than any impolite language, of course, is the reality of the dirty, deadly influence of polluters on our society, economy, and politics — which even the propaganda machine of Fox News cannot hide. Van Jones will receive his Image Award in a live broadcast Friday on Fox.
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