Van Jones Claims Radicalism Behind Him

Van Jones Claims Radicalism Behind Him

Van Jones’ radicalism is a thing of the past. That’s what he claimed yesterday on Soledad O’Brien’s show. Jones was there to promote his book, Rebuild the Dream, but things became a bit testy on set when Jones was confronted by CNN contributor Will Cain:

Will Cain: You said you flirted with socialism, communism, various aspects. What I’m curious about is when you were inside,you were part of this administration. How much does your ideology reflect the ideology of the administration?

JONES: Well, first of all, it’s funny. The reason I wrote the book is because, you know, people like this had such a great job of smearing me and lying about what my ideas are…

But Jones wanted to make clear that all of his radicalism was in his past:

JONES: I, just like a lot of people when I was younger I experiment – some people experimented with drugs and alcohol. Iexperimented with ideas, world views, philosophies. When I was younger, I decided that I was going to do everything I could to change the system, to make sure that poor people didn’t mistreated. I grew up, I learned, I changed.

Jones returned to this once more, making clear that his radicalism was a thing of the past:

JONES: Look, all – all these are fair questions. Look, I was on the left side of Pluto when I was in my 20s. Everybody knows that. I was talk – I talked about that on the record. But what I learned is as I was you know going through the rest of my life, those ideas were not working. We – I was going to more funerals than graduations for kids in Oakland. And I said we’ve got to do something to get jobs in this community.

All of this makes it sound like Jones left his radicalism behind a long time ago. But it was in 2003 at age 34 that Jones’ Ella Baker Center funded and promoted an anti-war album featuring Mumia Abu Jamal. Here’s a sample of various tracks from the album:

Does it sound to you as if Jones had left radicalism behind? Here are the credits from the booklet that came with the album:

[Van Jones and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights,] for once again deciding that our music could be an important and effective method ofdelivering your human rights message. We could not have made this album without the time, money, energy, and strength of will that you invested in us and in this project.

Also note the section midway down which reads:

Freedom Fighter Music releases War Times: Reports from the Opposition in complete solidarity with all the victims of United States foreign policy, from those killed by the US military in West, Central and South Asia to the civilians murdered in the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

America’s chickens comin’ home to roost! Jeremiah Wright couldn’t have said it any better. This is Van Jones’ idea of being a non-radical in his mid 30s. As for his new focus on jobs, he has made clear in previous speeches that his plan for jobs involves a lot of government intervention. He said this in February 2011:

We are in the middle of the biggest economic catastrophe in the history of our country since the great depression and the American people deserve to have a partner in America’s government during a crisis like this. America’s government should not be missing in action. We shouldn’t be struggling to figure out if we’re going to re-up the unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work. It’s time for us to go from talking about an unemployment program to an employment program in America. People need jobs. People need to be able to work. People need to be able to put food on the table. Why is the government missing in action?

Has Van Jones really moderated his radicalism? Has he grown out of socialism? Or has he just become more adept at the art of marketing his far left ideas to the public?


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