Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fallen Gentleman: The resignation of Van Jones

It's been a long time since I've posted on These Gentlemen. For that I apologize. I have been compelled to come out of hiatus to say a few words about integrity, and to highlight a case of someone I believe has it.

Webster's defines integrity as "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values." Integrity isn't about always winning, and it's not about always being right. But it IS about seeking Truth and sticking to your gut unless thoroughly convinced your understanding of the situation is incorrect or otherwise misguided. As such, Integrity is a core component of the proper Gentleman.

The problem with integrity is it's very inconvenient to those who use less than honest means to accomplish their goals, and many of these dishonest folks are in positions of great power. My ears always perk up when I hear a story about a concerned member of an organization coming forward with claims or concerns only to be treated as if they have done something wrong. Pay close attention to any situation in which someone is being demonized on thin facts or getting put down at an especially convenient time in regards to someone else's agenda. It so often means a threat to the darkness is being neutralized, and an injustice is being protected.

So, Van Jones. If you haven't heard the news, he just resigned from his post as "Green Jobs Czar" partially over backlash from his signing of a 9/11 Truth petition back in 2004. I am not claiming to know much about Mr. Jones. I don't collect government appointee trading cards, and I'm not such an Obama fanboy as to know the personal hobbies of his team. But from what I have read I believe him to be a man of integrity. It takes balls to admit you're a "revolutionary" in this day and age, even though our Founding Fathers were by definition revolutionaries themselves. Even though Jefferson tells us each generation NEEDS its own revolution. I haven't heard one damn reason why his "radical" beliefs are antithetical to the progress of this nation and its people. (If you have, please post a link in the comments.)

Re: 9/11 Truthers. My personal ethos leads me to the sentiment that no individual should be unduly demonized for questioning their (democratically elected) officials or government, especially about earth-shattering events. I often think of the tact the government likes to take on private citizens, usually through law enforcement. You know the one, "If you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to hide." So why is it that when a respected individual decides to question or stand up to government, or another kind of organization, the response is so often half-answers and political/career assassinations? I know some of the "Truthers" are a bit out there. I've engaged several in conversation and found a few DEFINITELY have the crazy eyes. But I've also talked to genuinely concerned citizens with honest questions that haven't been thoroughly answered. Van Jones just happens to be one of them.

A second excuse for the railroading of Van Jones was a statement he made about Republicans in February of this year at a lecture to the Council on Environmental Quality. Basically, Van called Republicans "assholes" and explained that at some point folks on the left are gonna have to be a bit more assertive in order to counter GOP assholery. While not exactly prudent wording for a political appointee, his colorful language is rather on the mark. I would have probably said it more like: "The Republican party has mastered the ability to present a united front, and expertly employs aggressive and unethical tactics and rhetoric to intimidate opponents and mislead constituents. Eventually Democrats are going to have to get together and shut that machine down." Semantics aside, Jones is right on the money.

Sidenote: I must repeat what I've said in the past. I AM NOT A DEMOCRAT. I support Truth. Not 9/11 truth, although I suppose that'd count if the public story isn't exactly what went down. I'm talking about Universal Truth. The Truth that must be spelled with a capital "T." Whatever IS, regardless of what we THINK we know, that is what I believe in.

Following that logic, I'm in no way saying I know Truth. I merely claim to seek it. What my search shows me right now is, as a team, the Republicans have been sacrificing Truth to the god of war and plunder for the last decade, at least. The Dems as well I'm sure, but the Republicans are seriously freaking me out. I haven't heard much of anything in the way of solutions coming from their team at all since they handed the country over to the Left. All I'm hearing from the Right is bloody murder about how Obama is ruining the country that was f@#$ing screwed before most of us even knew who he was.

According to another fallen Gentleman of integrity, former head of the Government Accountability Office, David Walker, we've got a Social Security/Medicare deficit of $59 trillion and two unnecessary wars going on, and somehow Obama's $7 trillion stimulus package is the cause of all our problems? Didn't the first bank bailout happen under Bush? The president wants to give our students a pep talk and the right cries "indoctrination," as if Ronald Reagan talking to students about guns, drugs, and God was appropriate. They decry his frequent vacations when Dubya took more vacation time than only one other president, good ole Reagan!

These tactics are disingenuous at best. It's an exploitation of the relatively open forum that Obama "allows", unlike Bush's lack of transparency and general squashing of opposition voice. (Valerie Plame, much?) Further, these tactics are being employed in lieu of giving a shit about the state of the world, socially, politically, economically, and ecologically.

I guess what I'm getting at is: don't let those with integrity stand alone. They will likely sacrifice themselves for the greater good, but if more of us thought for ourselves and sought Truth over easy answers and simple comfort, they wouldn't have to, and the world may have a fighting chance of getting through the coming storm.

So just out of curiosity, who thinks it makes sense that Van Jones was railroaded out of his position where he was trying to create green jobs in an ailing economy while Dick Cheney has never been properly taken to task about his authorizations of torture or his secret energy cabal?


AZ Winer said...

Damien! You need to post more!!

Jason Heat said...

very happy to have you back, buddy

Ozkirbas said...

Interesting. I've been brainstorming a post about professionalism and its application to gentlemen/ship/hood/ism/whatever, but was a little stuck on how to carry it. Due to your post, I now think choosing a person who exemplifies those characteristics would be a great way to do it.

Good post, Damo. Jolly well done.

greg said...

well said. as somebody a bit more entrenched in the political scene, I must say that the moment it was revealed that Jones signed the 9/11 truth petition, I knew it was over.

before that, we was merely an "avowed communist," a charge that could be brushed off for the most part. it's vague and meaningless, and I think many on the left, myself included, were not ashamed that somebody with such an -- how you say -- idealist background was occupying an important post in the WH.

you didn't have to defend Jones for being a "communist" (which he wasn't). But you couldn't defend Jones once he was a Truther, and from that point on, he was a goner.

I'm saddened and angry over the way things went down, but I'm more partisan than thou, so it was interesting to read the thoughts of somebody more detached from the 24hr news cycle than I am. Thanks


Scotty said...

There's a Google ad for to the right of this post.

Damo said...

Thanks for the love. Writing this piece came as an uncontrollable urge. I don't know how often that urge will come, but I do promise that when I contribute it will be insightful and/or entertaining.

I'm hoping someone on the other side sees this piece, though. I would love some friendly (or at least civil) discussion that includes an opposing voice.

Damo said...

A colleague on facebook just posted an article in response to this piece. Character limits make it difficult to complete a point. Regardless, exchange reposted here:


Damo: E, We have an imperative on every level to make sure the global ecosystem doesn't break down. I'll admit not being 100% sure about what role the solar cycle is playing in global warming, but I have two reasons not to let that stop us.

1.) In practice, reducing carbon emissions is the same as increasing efficiency, which is tantamount to creating new resources out of nowhere. This reduces global tensions over resources.

2.) We've got to stop polluting in general. I'm much more concerned about heavy metals, noxious chemicals, and other waste ending up in air, water, and soil, reducing the overall value of our collective global resource assets.

This is long-term fiscal conservatism. But in the end, f*ck a profit motive if it destroys life.