When news of Van Jones’s Communist background came to light in 2009 – shortly after he’d been named the Obama White House’s “green czar” – Kyle Smith of the New York Post called out the New York Times for ignoring the story. (Note: weirdly enough, the 2009 New York Post story linked to above is misdated at the Post‘s own website as being from 1999.) “The Times purposely ignored” Jones’s Communist history, wrote Smith, “because it was hoping that the story would go away, because it likes people like Comrade Jones and was hoping he wouldn’t be forced out.”
What was the Times‘s excuse for not reporting on the story? It claimed that Jones himself wasn’t important enough to merit such coverage. This was transparent hogwash. The New Yorker had profiled Jones at length only a few months earlier, and the Times’s own Thomas Friedman had devoted “four breathless fanzine pages” to him in a recent book. As Smith put it: “The Times continues to treat communism as a cute campus peccadillo like pot smoking or nude streaking.”
Also in 2009, it emerged that Jones had signed a letter suggesting that 9/11 was an inside job by top U.S. government officials. He had also engaged in race-war rhetoric, accusing “the white polluters and the white environmentalists” of “essentially steering pollution into people of color because they don’t have a social-justice framework.”
Jones felt obliged by the media pressure to leave his White House job in order to keep the heat off of President Obama and his environmentalist colleagues. At the time, however, he did not renounce Communism. Not until 2011, when he was working at both the Center for American Progress and Princeton, did he have a lawyer, Joseph E. Sandler, send a “cease and desist” letter to Fox News demanding that Fox hosts Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck stop referring to him as a Communist. Sandler insisted that Jones had long since ceased being a Communist and was now “firmly pro-market.”
The Fox hosts had also called Jones a 9/11 Truther; Sandler denied this. Finally, the Fox hosts had aired a video of the Oakland event on September 12, 2001, and had noted the vile sentiments expressed by Jones and his fellow participants. How did Sandler respond to this? “Mr. Jones,” he wrote, “was one of many speakers at a small gathering in Oakland on Sept. 12th 2001 convened to express shock and horror at the atrocities committed on 9/11.” To watch the video is to recognize this as a flagrant misrepresentation of the emotions expressed at that event.
“Mr. Jones,” Sandler went on, “does not agree with the hateful, misguided sentiments of some of the attendees featured in this clip and has never endorsed or adopted any such sentiments. His comments at the rally were for all people to eschew violence and pursue change through peaceful means.” Again, this is a lie: Jones had spoken explicitly of revolution.
“As with any political figure,” wrote Sandler, “he is often forced to share the stage with people with whom he strongly disagrees.” But nobody was forcing Jones to be on that stage. He spoke last. Any decent American would either have walked away from that event after hearing the other speakers – or would have explicitly denounced their disgusting remarks on the spot. Van Jones did neither.
The conclusion is simple: whether or not he is still a Communist in his heart, Jones was, as recently as 9/11, an avowed revolutionary who on the day after that monstrous attack on his country willingly consorted with the worst kinds of America-haters; and as of 2011, when his lawyer wrote that letter, he was still prepared to lie about it.