by Patrick Appel
A reader writes:
A lot of us on the left are defending Van Jones because:
a) Many of us know him. Just because he was not well known to Beltwayers and TV talking heads does not mean he was unknown. Jones had traveled the country several times, given speeches, talks and meetings in cities like Ft. Lauderdale, Minneapolis, and many more.
We like what he has to say now, in his adult phase of working with the system. Many of us who came up through venues like Act Up (in my case) 20 years ago see ourselves reflected in Jones. We may have been radicalized in our early 20’s, but now, in our 40s leave the street demos to the young and want to work inside the system to make it serve us better, not to destroy it.
b) More systemically, we see racism at work in Jones’ filleting and all the hyperventilating about Obama talking to school kids, etc. All the right-wing e-mails my dad shares with me (because he’s right-wing, not as an advisory to me) point to a whole lot of people very frightened by having a black president but using language like “we don’t know who he IS.” If Obama were white and graduated from Harvard, edited the Law Review, worked on poverty reduction in Chicago, and then got elected to the Senate, he’d still be pegged as a liberal, but people (white people) would “know who he is.”