Thomas Paine Would Have Loved Van Jones
Monday 14 September 2009
by: Kelpie Wilson, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
It's been a nail-biting time for liberals, wondering if President Obama would have the strength to take on the right-wing bullies who ran amok in our public life throughout August's Congressional recess. It was a relief to hear the president in his health care address confront the lies directly and to hear him stand behind his preference for a public health care option. But Obama's failure to defend Van Jones, his green jobs adviser, is still a big disappointment and we need to understand why it happened.
Why was Glenn Beck able to drive Van Jones out of office? Jones did nothing that was illegal or immoral. Some of his views and opinions, now or in the past, are not popular with some people, but that doesn't make them "fringe" or "crazy" or "reprehensible," all epithets used to describe them. "Crazy" is more applicable to Beck, who seems to believe he is channeling the American revolutionary Thomas Paine: Beck titled his own book "Common Sense"; Beck produced a series of nutty videos where an actor portraying Tom Paine spouts angrily about taxes and illegal immigrants; Beck has Tea Party protest signs that say, "Tom Paine Rocks."
Let's take a look at the charges against Jones and try to understand why the president couldn't just ignore Glenn Beck. Then let's look at how we can reclaim the spirit of this country and make progress toward a more just, free and secure life, in accordance with the ideals of Thomas Paine.