Who is Van Jones?

I’ve been talking about Van Jones, Obama’s green jobs czar, but who is he?

To answer that question in part, I’ve been digging through old videos archived on the Ella Baker Center website. Jones helped found the Oakland, California-based organization, which bills itself as “a strategy and action center working for justice, opportunity and peace in urban America”

If you are a blogger, I highly encourage you to start mining these videos for clues about Van Jones and his ideology.  I don’t have the time or resources to do it all, but let’s get it out there. Dissect it. Analyze it. Distribute it.

After watching a couple of these videos, one thing is clear. It’s obvious why liberals like this guy. (I watched a C-Span clip recently where Obama insider Valerie Jarrett introduced him at some sort of lefty conference and he received quite the warm welcome). He’s got a low-key, earnest yet intense delivery. He’s clearly a true believer, or he just talks an incredibly good game. His rhetoric is cutting edge – and I’ve heard a lot of leftist intellectual and pseudo-intellectual rhetoric. It’s good.

His nearly every phrase is nicely wrapped up like so, delivered in modest yet soulful cadence (remind you of anyone we might know?):

“The communities that have been locked out of the pollution-based economy, those communities deserve to be locked in to the new clean and green economy.”

It strikes personal chords, it’s upbeat yet insistent, it’s emotional and manipulative. It melds several key issues* together into a pop-socio case for action, and makes it sound utterly reasonable and rational while sending all the right codes to the hard core ideologues. In short, everything good lefty rhetoric should be.

Will Van still have a job at the White House on Monday? I don’t know. After seeing this, it’s not difficult to suppose that he probably has some major players who feel an emotional/ideological attachment to him and would go to bat for him. In the end though, Obama’s political interests must be served and that may be his undoing. We’ll have to wait and watch. There are signs the story has started to make the jump from the blogs to the legacy media…(Fox News was already on the story, but I think they were pretty much the only mainstream network covering it). Now, Jake Tapper of ABC has grabbed it, as has Politico. Should be wildfire tomorrow.

As an aside, if you want some great context for the “sustainability” movement – because that’s really where a lot of this “green jobs” stuff comes from – you must refer to Peter Wood’s excellent treatment of the matter (I couldn’t find the one essay I was really looking for, but there’s a few pieces linked to here). Woods is one of the nation’s leading anthropologists and author of Diversity: The Invention of a Concept. He currently serves as head of the National Association of Scholars.

*In this footage I reviewed, primarily the environment, the economy and race.


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