Van Jones says: Don’t Cry for Me, Argen(vironmental movemen)tina.

September 15, 2009 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

It’s heartbreaking but true: Van Jones, our beloved beacon of green-collar hope and environmental justice for all, has left the building. After enduring attacks from Fox News personality, Glenn Beck, who spinned a couple tame activities into ghosts of Jones’ activist past—I’m sorry, but who DIDN’T sign a 9/11 conspiracy petition, and really, who cares?—he has stepped down from his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Some say it’s our fault. According to Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, the environmental movement didn’t take the threat of these allegations seriously enough, mobilize fast enough and back Van Jones up enough to prevent the end of his White House career.

Others say it’s a blessing in disguise. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post half facetiously thanked Glenn Beck in a recent article for his smear campaign against Jones, asserting that his resignation will put his skills and talents to better use: out of the government and back in the movement.

What does Van Jones have to say about all this? He asks us not to stand with him, but to stand with the environmental movement as a whole. “I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to ‘stay and fight.’ But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.” You can read the full article here.

I personally have mixed emotions about Jones’ resignation. Yes, we need to focus on the big picture but could he have done so more effectively by staying put? And did he really quit or was he asked to leave by the administration? Can he realistically return as the face of Green Jobs or is his name tainted? What are we gonna do now?

Ultimately, however, what Jones’ or any figurehead of our movement did or did not do is in the past and out of our control. Whatever attacks the anti-progressive peanut gallery pull out of their hats is also out of our control and not bound to stop anytime soon. We can rest assured that Glenn Beck and his posse of ignorance and greed have a whole artillery of tricks up their sleeves and are waiting just around the corner to hit us with a another curve ball at any moment. They’ve commandeered healthcare and now they’re coming for the green-collar movement.

We can’t ignore rightwing media, but we also can’t let some fringe element hijack our movement. And we won’t—not  in our name and not in the name of our leaders.

It’s not our job to let thoughts of worry and anger flood our pretty little heads. It’s our job to organize. If nothing else, this is a reminder that we need to stand together in solidarity.

We can start by following Van Jones’ example. Almost every person in the environmental justice movement has a story about how his words and actions have inspired them whether it was in an audience of twelve thousand peers listening to one of his many moving speeches or even a one-on-one interaction. Our executive director, Stephanie Powell, for example, had the privilege of chatting with him back in 2007 at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference. Van overheard that she was working in the Gulf Coast post hurricane Katrina and sought her out to ask her more about her work and thank her for what she was doing.

The Van we know is a very busy man who always takes the time to care and be supportive of another organizer. It’s critical that we remember to do the same no matter how our schedules fill up. He’s not just a figurehead, he’s a person. We need to show the same compassion and not just support him but support others in the movement.

The best way to show this support is to call for real action on global warming. It’s time for a wake-up call.  On September 21, people all over the country are getting together in public places everywhere for “wake-up call” flash-mob events, pressing our Senators to take action on clean energy jobs & climate! Click here to get involved!

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Entry filed under: campus campaigns, climate justice, events, government, green jobs, national, power shift, southeast, southern energy network.

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