The Corner

Transition Update Update: Van (Let’s “put all the incinerators and nasty stuff in rich people’s neighborhoods”) Jones

I was remiss last night in not adding the news that the White House has announced President Obama’s selection of ”social justice” activist Van Jones as his “special adviser on green jobs” according to U.S. News & World Report. This appointment’s a doozy. Here’s a description of Jones from a 2007 interview by Campus Progress:

Not everyone makes the connection between solar panels and police brutality—but human rights activist Van Jones does. Jones founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996 to help victims of police brutality navigate the U.S. justice system. Since then, the organization’s mission has expanded: The center now works to reduce the San Francisco Bay Area’s prison population and to ensure that ex-inmates can find jobs that positively impact on the environment. Along with creating what he calls “green collar jobs,” Jones has received the Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership Fellowship and Reebok’s Human Rights Award. He serves on the boards of Social Venture Network, National Apollo Alliance, Bioneers, Rainforest Action Network, and Julia Butterfly Hill’s “Circle of Life” organization.

And here’s Jones himself, chatting with Mother Jones just a few months ago:

Well, the only reason that we have the unsustainable accounting that we have right now is because incinerators, dumping grounds, and sacrifice zones were put where poor people live. It would never have been allowed if you had to put all the incinerators and nasty stuff in rich people’s neighborhoods; we’d have had a sustainable economy a long time ago. We’d have had a clean and green economy a long time ago. It’s the environmental racism that allowed the powerful people in society to turn a blind eye for decades to the downsides of the industrial system that got us to this point.

So there’s a direct relationship between environmental racism and the lack of sustainability of society as a whole. We were the canaries in the coal mines, crying for relief. Now finally the consequences are affecting everyone, with global warming and everything else. The other thing is that the environmental justice agenda is also changing. Before, it was much stronger on demanding equal protection from environmental bad. Now we are also demanding equal opportunity and equal access to environmental good. We don’t want to be first and worst with all the toxins and all the negative effects of global warming, and then benefit last and least from all the breakthroughs in solar, wind energy, organic food, all the positives. We want an equal share, an equitable share, of the work wealth and the benefits of the transition to a green economy.

’Round these parts, though, Jones appears to have been discovered by our eagle-eyed Maggie Gallagher in late January. Maggie’s gem of a post, “Geek Chic Watch,” is worth reproducing in full:

I’d like to think of something really intelligent to say about this profile in the New Yorker of a man named Van Jones, an African-American community organizer who is attempting to solve poverty and global warming simultaneously. Is this part of a broader attempt to knit together the truly diverse collection of hard left interests into a genuine common movement?

But really I just wanted to post this:

As a child, Jones was, by his own description, “bookish and bizarre.” When his parents gave him Luke Skywalker and Han Solo action figures, instead of arranging them to fight he would have them run for imaginary public offices.


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