All of which is true. Van has a long history of being a left advocate working in a variety of organizations. Which is why it's even more important that liberals and moderates of good faith stand up to defend him. McCarthyism was not bad because it falsely accused moderates of being radicals. McCarthyism was bad because it made having any form of left views a bar to public service, from policy to being a teacher.
President Obama has explicitly filled his administration with a broad diversity of views, with many of the key positions held by establishment moderates from the corporate world. Van Jones is one viewpoint represented among many voices in the White House, yet the Becks of the world want to make anyone holding left views or having a history of sympathetically reading the "wrong" books forbidden from public service.
Disclosure-- I knew Van pretty well back in the early 90s when we were both involved in community organizing efforts, including involvement in a variety of left-leaning groups. To quote Jerry Seinfeld- "Not that there was anything wrong with that."
If people think Van Jones's work against policy brutality was wrong, they could raise that concern for his qualifications. If they think his work to increase reading among prisoners to reduce recidivism was wrong, that's a legitimate issue. If they think his work trying to get minority youth involved in training for green economy jobs was misguided, that might be a useful debate.
But the Beck's of the world are involved in pure ideological smearing.
So far the worst of their real evidence against Van is he signed onto a petition calling for investigations of what led the Bush administration to ignore warnings about the 9-11 attacks-- an association with the "9-11 truthers" that Jones has disavowed.
The other is a Van Jones comment that conservatives have been politically successful because they are assholes. This could be seen as intemperate, but Jones goes out of his way to say that he himself is an asshole often and that more Democrats need to be assholes-- which means he is using the term for being politically aggressive.
We are seeing a full fledged movement to lie and smear anyone seeking change on the left side of the spectrum, with Obama being labelled a Fascist down to demands to fire folks like Van Jones. The best way to stop a slide towards McCarthyism is to stop it in its tracks and refuse to allow even one scalp for the rightwing, since history says that ideological blood just feeds bloodlust for more.
As German anti-Nazi activist, Pastor Martin Niemöller said:
In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me --
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
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