Monday, September 14, 2009

Implications of the Van Jones resignation...

As reported here last week, Obama's "Green Jobs Czar", Van Jones, was forced to resign from the Obama administration a few days ago for having once called republicans "assholes". Rabbi Michael Lerner from Tikkun has an interesting analysis of what this could mean for progressive politics in the United States.

Van Jones's Resignation: Bad for the Country and Bad for Obama

Jones's resignation is bad for the country and for the Obama administration. It's bad for America when progressive views are an excuse to purge someone from the administration while extremist right-wing views of past administrations were always given a "pass."

Van Jones's forced resignation is a huge defeat for the forces of sanity and humanity, and represents a deep failure of the Obama-ites to understand the nature of the challenge they face from an increasingly fascistic Right wing.

Jones was the first African American environmentalist to have become a national figure (his book became a national bestseller), and was brought into the administration to help enlist minority communities in the struggle to save the environment from decades of abuse...

The bigger issue remains: how Obama responds to the assaults from the Right. The pattern he sets by allowing his assistants to force Jones to resign (or set by Jones himself in the unlikely case that he made the decision without such outside pressure) is one of capitulation -- and that will only guarantee yet more extreme assaults from the Right. Wilhelm Reich in the late 1920s analyzed the growth of fascism in Germany, and one of his important observations was that the fascists managed to intimidate people because the Left was not in the streets challenging them. Luckily, we are not yet at a point where the Right is scaring people in the streets of American cities, but they are doing so through the media. What is needed is a vigorous challenge in the media from liberals and progressives, and the obvious place from which that should be coming is the Obama administration. If, instead, they wimp out, as so many congressional Democrats have done for the past many years, the Right will be encouraged and tens of millions of decent Americans will become fearful and withdraw from public involvement, allowing a path to power for some of the most hate-oriented forces in American society. Historians may well look back at the Van Jones resignation as an important step in that process of shifting the society, so recently rejoicing at having gotten back on track toward progressive values, toward a renewed McCarthyism or worse...

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