As most of us have heard by now, this Labor Day weekend brought the resignation of Van Jones, the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Special Adviser for Green Jobs.
Jones, of course, is the charismatic founder of Green For All, an Overbrook grantee, as well as the author of The Green Collar Economy and an inveterate supporter of human rights. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All since Jones' departure for Washington in March of this year, sent an email to supporters and posted on the organization's web site this weekend. Jones' resignation was the focus of Ellis-Lamkins' post, but she focused less on the defeat and more on the work ahead. The post, titled "Time to Step Up," implores readers to cyber-sign an Internet petition supporting green jobs in a show of new-found commitment and strength after this blow to the green jobs movement.
"In the face of tactics intended to frighten and divide," the petition states, "we must stand together around the core values that unite us." It is not clear to whom the petition will be passed, whether it's for the eyes of senators in Washington or merely an act of solidarity to re-rally the green jobs movement. Only time will tell how significant Jones' resignation is to the success of the green collar economy.
Arianna Huffington's post, "Thank You, Glenn Beck!" takes a slightly less somber, if less polite, tone. Huffington actually thanks Beck for the smear campaign he led against Jones. "To stick him (Jones) behind a desk," she writes, "working out the details of tax credits for green jobs -- incredibly important though the job is -- was never the best use of his unique and abundant skills." According to Huffington, Jones can now go back to speaking his mind and using his abundant oratory skills to inspire the green jobs movement.
Although her tone is irreverent, Huffington gravely warns against an emerging culture of fear and intimidation, in which citizens could become afraid to speak their minds or support unpopular causes. "If the sliming of Van Jones is an indication of how things are going to be," she writes, "a lot of 20-somethings posting to their Facebook pages as we speak better start worrying about the digital crumbs they are leaving behind for the future Glenn Becks of the world."
David Roberts of Grist, also an Overbrook grantee, faults the White House for not properly vetting Jones. He concedes the anti-Jones campaign was a "head hunt," however, launched to discredit the uncensored, candid speech that made people admire Jones in the first place.
Glenn Beck, on the other hand, posts on his Fox News television program's web site that "the American people" were the ones who "stood up and demanded answers" about Jones' past, as though Beck were an innocent conduit of information between Washington and the people. He writes that "the Administration had Jones resign under cover of darkness," which is patently not true. In reality, Jones made the decision to resign himself, stating that a negative media blitz surrounding his past would take away from the Obama administration's message in these crucial days leading up to health care and climate change legislation. You can read Beck's short post on Jones' resignation on his web site; it's the link under "Most Popular Stories," just above "Sarah Palin Bikini Pictures." We can only hope readers differentiate the news-worthiness of the two.
With luck, the coming weeks will bring new statements from Green For All and Van Jones, as well as a new appointee to the Special Adviser for Green Jobs position.