Monday, October 31, 2011

Kalamazoo College Professor Lies About Van Jones

Amy Elman, the "chair" of the Political Science department at Kalamazoo College is upset at the Kalamazoo Gazette's description of Van Jones.

Story repeats inaccuracies about Van Jones in advance of his visit to Kalamazoo College (letter)

Here is what the Gazette said.

Van Jones, activist who resigned from Obama White House, to speak at Kalamazoo College
That same year he was asked to resign from his White House post after his past involvement with a Sept. 11 conspiracy group, a radical group with Marxist roots and past statements against Republicans came to light, according to The Washington Post.
Let's analyze Dr. Amy's complaint.
I'd like to take a moment to comment on what I find to be a troubling presentation of Van Jones in the Kalamazoo Gazette.

In my role as chairperson of the political science department at Kalamazoo College and thus a primary co-sponsor of the prestigious Weber Lecture to be given by Mr. Jones on Nov. 2, I feel a responsibility to address the misleading information now circulating about our guest.
What's the misinformation?
Let me take particular exception to the claim that Mr. Jones is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who was somehow exposed for his "involvement" with Marxists.
The Professor mentions two issues: 9/11 and Marxism. Careful readers will note that the allegation of Marxism IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN IN THE ARTICLE. Elman 'takes exception', but never offers any defense.
Curiously absent from this contrived history is the fact that he served under the Bush administration long before he worked within and then resigned from the Obama administration.
I have no idea what Dr. Amy is talking about here. Van Jones' Wikipedia page makes no mention of this. Googling, the only article that makes this claim is...Amy's own letter.
As Mr. Jones makes clear in his own New York Times op-ed pertaining to this 9/11 libel, he went from relative obscurity to national infamy within hours after pundits insisted he signed a 9/11 conspiracy petition.
Jones' 'relative obscurity' was due to the fact that the media refused to report all the damaging information on Jones that Glenn Beck dug up.

Why would those nefarious pundits insist that Jones signed the 9/11 truther petition? Perhaps because HIS NAME APPEARED ON THE PETITION. When the controversy erupted, Jones denied having signed it. It is not possible to know the truth for sure. But what is more likely--that someone added the name of a then-obscure leftist activist to a petition without his consent, or that Jones, who has a long history of documented radical views, did sign the petition and then lied about it when it was politically convenient to do so? Judge for yourselves.
Then, as now, the media rushed to judgment [HA!] concerning a document he never signed. But then it was too late. Let's hope it is not too late for the truth this time around.

If, in the past, there were few who believed that organized lying could be an effective weapon against the truth, the Internet has altered the political landscape and in so doing it demands that we respond quickly. I'm not sure what to make of the resulting emphasis on rapid response without reflection. I hope cooler heads will prevail.

Now to the lesson Mr. Jones derived from his (9/11) experience. Rather than raise the level of animus, rather than direct a diatribe against the assassins of his character, he expressed his deep concern for "people at all levels of government" who "are becoming overly cautious, unwilling to venture new opinions or even live regular lives for fear of seeing even the most innocuous comment or photograph used against them, all while trying to protect and improve the country."

The conditions that Van Jones describes are sad indeed, not least because we so need the energy and ideas of those determined to do better. I imagine that when Mr. Jones takes up our distinguished Weber lecture, we will all be called on to reflect on the ways that America is imperiled by a rapid fire race to judgment without facts. Thank you for allowing me to share just a few of these facts with you now.

Professor R. Amy Elman is chair of the political science department at Kalamazoo College.
The rest of the letter basically summarizes Jones' New York Times article. Does Dr. Amy think that no one will notice that her article contains no facts? All it has is a link to a piece by Jones himself. I'm not sure whether this letter appears in the print edition of the Gazette, but if it does, there wouldn't even be a link.

Going back to the issue that Elman failed to address, why would anyone think that Jones was involved with Marxists?

Particularly starting at 2:18.

This article from "Politifact" documents Jones' communist past before implausibly claiming that he has changed.
There's little question that Jones was an avowed communist.

In a Nov. 2, 2005, profile of Jones in the East Bay Express , an alternative weekly in Berkeley, Calif., Jones said his life hit a turning point in the spring of 1992 when he was swept up in mass arrests while protesting the acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King.

Although the charges against Jones were dropped, Jones said that while in jail, "I met all these young radical people of color — I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next 10 years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary."

"In the months that followed," the Express article said, "he let go of any lingering thoughts that he might fit in with the status quo. 'I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th,' he said. 'By August, I was a communist.'"

In 1994, the story states, Jones formed a socialist collective called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM.

According to a history of STORM written in the spring of 2004, the group held "structured political education" training at every meeting "to help members develop an understanding of the basics of Marxist politics." They "trained members on capitalism and wage exploitation, the state and revolution, imperialism and the revolutionary party."
The question I asked at the end of the previous article on Jones stands. Why would Kalamazoo College and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership bring someone to campus who has been an advocate of an ideology that murdered 150 million people?

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