September 06, 2009

Environmentalist With an Attitude

In a riveting 20 minutes of talk radio, Glenn Beck laid out the case against Obama?s ?Green Czar,? Van Jones, quoting generously from his public statements about ?changing the system? and achieving ?racial justice.? Jones has also apparently speculated that evil white businessmen and environmentalists team up to pollute black neighborhoods?and much else! These clips got linked to by Drudge and were certainly a big reason why Jones resigned late on Saturday night (most likely under pressure from Obama and Rahm Emmanuel).

(Beck?s research is sound, though I was a bit bothered by his mention of Vladimir Putin as a ?communist??the Cold War?s over, Glenn, we?re the socialists now.) 

After my many years of higher education, Jones?s general outlook and garbled political opinions come as no real surprise; there are thousands?maybe millions?of interchangeable Van Joneses scurrying around the major universities, foundations, think-tanks, and bureaucracies. In this way, Jones is useful in that he scares normal Americans?and reveals to them what the Establishment really is. My fear is that in Jones?s stead, Obama is going to appoint some Christie Todd Whitman- or RFK Jr.-style ?patriotic environmentalist,? who?ll do all the same stuff as Van Jones would have, but refrain from loudly howling, ?Bush Did WTC!?

But what I find truly remarkable, even shocking, about Van Jones is that he?s a black environmentalist. As Steve pointed out recently, African-Americans make up less than 1 percent of visitors to Yosemite Park. And just the other day, the New York Times was complaining about how the environmental movement?s leadership resembles a James Taylor concert. In fact, according to the Times, back in 1990, ?leaders of civil rights and minority groups wrote an open letter that accused the 10 biggest environmental organizations of ?racist? hiring practices.? The notion that the modern Sierra Club is racist is a lot like saying that blacks have been involved in an 80-odd-year boycott of L.L Bean clothing (which The Onion reported on in 2007). This is a matter of self-selection?people exercising their freedom of association?and it?s clear that environmentalism simply ain?t Stuff Black People Like. Not that there?s anything wrong with that. 

In this regard, that Fast Company article Karen linked to (?Van Jones: ?I?m bad, I?m slick!??) includes a telling photo of some ?Green jobs? protest Van Jones organized in the Bay Area in ?08: every single person?with the exception of one lonely black dude in the upper right?is either white or Asian. 


Of note is the middle-aged Asian woman holding up a sign reading, ?Green Jobs, Not Jails.? Though she looks mild mannered from here, it was truly only Van Jones who stood between Mrs. Chang and a destitute life of crime, drug-addiction, and hard times in the big house.

I?m sure that Van Jones decided to enter the racket of ?Green jobs??state-financed, You?ll-Never-Get-Fired kinda work?because ?that?s where the money is.? But one gets the sense that he always chafed at the WASPy-ness of the rest of his colleagues. This led him to float bizarre theories like the one about white CEOs and environmentalist working in tandem to steer ?poisons? into the ?people-of-color communities.? Jones also has a marked tendency of ghetto-ing up any Green cause he ever gets involved in: ?Green Jobs, Not Jail? was just the beginning; he also compared Bush to a ?crackhead? because of his plans to drill for oil in Alaska. 

But don?t feel too sorry for Mr. Jones for his loss of power and prestige?there?s always work at the recycling center.

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