Van Jones in Newsweek and on Glenn Beck


Even Van Jones recognizes there’s no unified definition of a green job.

And as a senior advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality and founder and former executive director at Green for All, a national organization working to build an inclusive economy, Jones is about as definitive a source as you can find.

That’s why those tracking new developments in green jobs should check out Daniel Stone’s interview with Jones in this week’s Newsweek. Despite the lack of a consensus definition of what constitutes a green job, $60 billion of the recovery package going to fund them.

As Jones observes, many of these opportunities may not immediately look green—8,000 manufactured parts go into a wind turbine, as much steel as 26 cars. Also noteworthy is his answer to a question about those who don’t think you can save the economy and the earth at the same time: A cough. “That’s clearly a false choice. That’s like saying, ‘Who do you love more, your kids or your grandkids?’”

* * *
Jones also has made some headlines recently for what he hasn’t said—but what Glenn Beck, the Fox pundit most recently known for accusing the President of being a racist, said about him. For those who have followed Jones’ career, the accusations are so spurious that any self-respecting network would be embarrassed for itself, but this is, after all, Fox News. is calling for advertisers to withdraw from the show over the race-baiting comments about the President. So far, more than 45 have done so.

In fact, those who have read Jones’ excellent book, The Green Collar Economy, will realize the degree to which Jones is working for a cleaner, greener, and inclusive economy—the very things it would seem Glenn Beck opposes.

*** UPDATE 9/6/09***

Many readers have written in to contest my claim that Glenn Beck’s claims were spurious. In fact, as many have claimed, Van Jones held radical beliefs earlier in his career and was a member of the group STORM, which had sympathies with left-wing and communist philosophies, and he stated in a speech that “white polluters and the white environmentalists are essentially steering poison into the people of color communities.” (Some may object to how Van Jones phrased this statement, but it’s worth pointing out that it is validated by a recent study by the University of Massachusetts and University of Southern California.)

In addition, there is a video circulating on the Web in which Van Jones likens former President George W. Bush oil policy to a crackhead with an addiction, and he signed a petition in 2004 calling for an investigation into the Bush administration’s knowledge of an impending attack in 2001–which he has indicated he did not read carefully, and apologized for this week.

As a result of this controversy, Van Jones resigned early this morning from his post with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, citing a desire not to be a distraction during the historic debate over health care reform.

Many Republicans had called on him to resign; Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said in a statement, “His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate.

No doubt many of the commentators to my earlier post will be pleased.

This writer, however, is disappointed. Jones’ has been working toward a solution to both social equity and climate change. There is no vision for solving these problems on the right, and often an unwillingness to  acknowledge them. The fact is, going green will require radically new thinking. We won’t get there by doing things the old ways. Only a massive, painful reinvention will avert an ecological catastrophe. If you read Van Jones, you’ll see how his radical early thinking has informed his eco-capitalist leadership on the green economy. His ideas are profoundly humanistic. He advocates for a more inclusive, more democratic way of doing things. I’m not sure we can say the same for Glenn Beck.

So let’s celebrate Jones’ brief tenure with the Obama Administration with an excerpt from The Green Collar Economy:

The best answer to our ecological crisis also responds to our socioeconomic crisis. The surest path to safe streets and peaceful communities is not more police and prisons, but ecologically sound economic development. And that same path can lead us to a new, green economy–one with the power to life people out of poverty while respecting and repairing the environment.

Frank Marquardt is the author of The Solar Job Guide.

Frank Marquardt is the author of The Solar Job Guide and Green Careers, and a contributor to How Green Is Your City? He has contributed to 100s of career guides over the past 10 years. Frank is also director of content strategy at Native Instinct, an interactive agency.

19 responses

  1. I hope Obama and his communist Jones fail in their attempt to remake America in their black theology image. I am just a school teacher that has never been political, but now am writing and attending meetings and doing what I can to stop the socialist/fascist…


  2. “So spurious” that you won’t repeat them? Really? If they were so spurious, maybe you could counter them or prove them wrong instead?

    Jones is a radical self-avowed communist and racial activist that openly supported the black panthers. There is nothing “spurious” about this. Look it up.

  3. The comments already here are sad examples of how incredibly un-thinking many Americans are.

    Glenn Beck is a manical bastard who is taking revenge on Van Jones because Van Jone helped lead the recent advertiser boycott against him. Frankly I don’t know that it was a good idea to do that and we’d best just ignore bastards like Beck.

    Van Jones has talked about his more radical past in an honest and open way. He’s not a communist for christ’s sake. He’ll be doing more for the private sector than just about anything else. Please drop it.

  4. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, etc. — these people will try to make it seem that ANYTHING Obama does is evil. He could redirect all contributions to the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, eliminate all regulation, whatever, and these clowns would try to paint him as Satan for it.

    Bottom line is they won’t be happy until somebody puts a bullet in the president’s head. And you can guarantee it’ll be someone who listens to one or all of them if, God forbid, something like that happens.

    If you listen to them, that’s what you support.

  5. Yes, like Ronald Reagan (and many others), Van Jones showed an interest in communism in his younger days. But now he’s the ambassador of capitalism. He’s working to create jobs and economic growth for our future. The racist dimwits who are going after him aren’t doing anything constructive and need to be held accountable for their foolish lies and destructive behavior.

  6. Thanks for all the interesting comments. It is true that Van Jones has been arrested, though illegally, after protesting the Rodney King beatings, and he has called himself a communist, a view he has since renounced. In fact, Jones has actively promoted capitalism and been a staunch champion of green business. His work has been widely lauded: in 2009, he was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award, presented to those who best exemplify selfless and devoted service in the cause of equality; in 2008, he was a Time Magazine Environmental Hero and named among Fast Company’s “12 Most Creative Minds”; and he has received many other awards and recognition for his efforts to help those in underserved communities find green job opportunities–and for his support of green job opportunities in general.(He has also been recognized as a sharp dresser.)

    It is discouraging to hear people talking about Jones and President Obama trying to remake American in “their black theology image,” which does not track with the President’s policies at all. The Democratic Party has a long history of advocating for underserved communities, trying to create a more equitable society, and supporting the environment; the current plans for universal health care, energy policy, and an expiration of the Bush era tax cuts are all consistent with this agenda. Of course, there are many people who disagree with these priorities and objectives. On the environmental front, the threats are especially significant, and we need advocates for clean technologies; Jones has been one of the most effective and highly regarded.

  7. hmmm…I read that article with high expectations for a rebuttle of Glenn’s comments on Mr. Jones. I guess they are so spurious (big word there) there is no need to counter the Glenn’s argument.

  8. Just wondering…why don’t we just stick together as Americans and hold all politicians (right, left, black, white, brown, gay, straight) to high standards! We should stop shooting the messengers and look at the points they are making with an open mind. It defies common sense to beleive that Van Jones isn’t a leftest radical. There is too much evidence to the contrary! Unless these are your political views, why would anyone wish to sweep it under the rug and pretend. If you share his views just be honest about it, but don’t insult our intelligence by denying Mr. Jones’ politics!

  9. “So ‘spurious’ that you won’t repeat them?” In the wild world of internet communications, there are things called “links”. You can actually make part of one text a link to another, such that the reader can “click” on a highlighted word or phrase and see for herself a whole document that supports or clarifies your own points. I’m told that internet writers often use this technique. Will wonders ever cease?

    Anyway, if you click on the highlighted word “spurious”, it’ll take you about 60 seconds to see the accusations the writer is talking about and the source-author’s rebuttals of those charges. Then you can decide for yourself how “spurious” Beck’s charges are.

    Give me a call if you need any more help with all this newfangled consumer electronics technology. I can’t explain how it works, but maybe I can help you find the nude babe wrestling channel.

    1. Read this: LINK HERE.

      Glenn Beck is a mentally handicapped jackass who’s only accomplishment is enraging an army of sadly misinformed and uneducated people. He is attacking Van Jones ONLY because Van Jones helped organize the advertiser boycott against him.

  10. “He’s not a communist for christ’s sake.”

    Prove he’s not a communist….prove he’s just an honest citizen
    because, actions speak louder than words and Van Jones actions are in direct contradiction to what you’re spouting.

    1. Yes – actions speak louder than words!

      Have you seen Van’s actions? Look at the work he’s doing and has been doing with Apollo, with inner city Oakland, and now in the White House – it’s all about stimulating the PRIVATE sector. It’s the opposite of communism, just google around man.

      As for words, so what if Van Jones had some experimentation in earlier times? That’s how you learn, and he’s been totally honest about it.

      Glenn Beck has just taken a few words and blown them out of proportion in order to take revenge on Van for helping to blockade the sponsors of his idiotic show.

      If Glenn Beck could make more money being a ranting leftist, he would. The guy’s a bastard and you shouldn’t listen to him.

  11. The more I hear about Van Jones, the more I see a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”! Also personal attacks and “bad language” is indicative of “someone’s ox is being gored” real bad as you respond to Glenn Beck’s comments! No way you can get out of this.

  12. This is the best response I’ve seen to Glenn Beck — it throws what he does right back in his face:

    For all you haters of Van Jones, what are you for in terms of energy policy solutions? If you are not in favor of the clean energy jobs that Jones is working hard to advance, then you must be in favor of keeping America addicted to oil, thus helping support regimes that hate us and fund terrorists! And putting America in a very precarious economic and security position — check out

    Do you really want to keep America addicted to oil, people?! A clean energy economy will choke off funding to terrorists!

    1. I’m still waiting for a constructive answer here related to the topic of this post.

      What do you Van Jones critics view as smarter directions for America’s energy future than the ones Van is advancing?

      So far, all I’ve seen from you is witch-trialesque anger, broad unsubstantiated generalizations, and blatant hand-waiving that isn’t based on any solidly verified factual information.

      Then again, sounds about like what I’d expect from Glenn Beck fans!

  13. I read the “debunking” of Glen’s “spurious” claims.
    I didn’t see one place where it was debunked when Van Jones described on the radio how you can push social equality (or wealth redistribution for liberals) through environmentalism.
    She said, sure Van had some crazy ideas when he was young….who doesn’t she debunks?! Sadly, becoming a Communist, praising Mao (who slaughtered millions…for the common good I’m sure), and being part of the black separatist movement are just silly little things ANYONE might do. She argues, let’s let the past be the past. Van Jones is a good little capitalist now.
    Silly Huffington Post. Only liberals are that naive.

    1. Jones said once “I was a communist” in a moment of passion. You have no idea about life in the ghetto. People say things like that, it’s exploration. It was a metaphor at worst. I’m horrified at the spiteful disgusting ways of FOX news and how they’re tearing a good man down.

      I wish Van the best and hope this insanity blows over.

  14. Google the latest released video of Van Jones speaking poorly now of white youth in respect to the Columbine Massacre. Lovely, just lovely and this person is in the White House? People like this defending him? Amazing!

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