Friday, September 11, 2009

Before he abruptly exited the White House last weekend, former green jobs czar Van Jones used his government position to help the Obama administration cynically green-wash the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Specifically, Mr. Jones helped lead an Obama-approved effort to reshape America’s collective memory of the Sept. 11 atrocities. Eager to keep Mr. Jones in the vanguard of radical change, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress reportedly offered Mr. Jones office space earlier this weekto help him get back on his feet.

This attempt to re-brand the horrors of Sept. 11 is part of the effort to ease America along in the radical transformation of the nation that the president promised on the campaign trail.

The vehicle for this push is the National Day of Service and Remembrance. In April, the president signed a bill declaring Sept. 11 a day of government-sponsored community volunteerism. Since then, the Obama administration and its allies in the activist left have decided to transmogrify Sept. 11 into a celebration of recycling, solar panels and radical community organizing called Green the Block.

Using the language of markets, Green the Block tries to convince Americans that the utopian fantasy of an oil-free, so-called green economy is possible without turning the United States into a Third World country. Green the Block says it was created “to educate and mobilize communities of color to ensure a voice and stake in the clean-energy economy.” It’s a “partnership” between the Hip Hop Caucus and Green for All, a nonprofit incorporated by Mr. Jones.

On Aug. 4, two White House media events promoting Green the Block took place.

Mr. Jones held a video teleconference on the White House Web site, while Obama ally the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, spoke at a press conference with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

At it, Mr. Yearwood said the National Day of Service will be “the first milestone” for Green the Block. The campaign “wants to see access and opportunity created for all Americans, to build prosperity and a healthier planet for future generations,” he said.

But the campaign was explained in starkly different terms in a White House-sanctioned teleconference call Aug. 11 in which about 60 far-left, liberal, environmentalist labor and interest groups participated. Groups in on the call included the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, AFL-CIO, Apollo Alliance, Color of Change, Friends of the Earth, Hip Hop Caucus, Jesse Jackson’s RainbowPUSH Coalition and Young Democrats of America.

As I reported in the American Spectator on Aug. 24, Mr. Yearwood explained during the call that the administration wants to take Sept. 11 back from the right. The minister and others kept saying that they wanted Sept. 11 to be used for something “positive,” “forward-leaning” and “productive,” a confidential source who listened to the call told me.

Their plan is to convert what the left considers a “day of fear” that helps Republicans into a day of activism that helps the left, the source said. “They think it needs to be taken back from the right,” the source said. “They’re taking that day, and they’re breaking it because it gives Republicans an advantage.”

A chorus of liberals, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, political philanthropist George Soros and filmmaker Michael Moore — to name just a few — have long argued that Republicans have abused Sept. 11 by using it to unfairly portray Democrats as comparatively weak on national security issues.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear how Mr. Yearwood’s background in antiwar protests qualifies him as an environmental leader. He denounced the United States at a 2007 meeting of the Revolutionary Communist Party spinoff group World Can’t Wait, which aimed at driving the George W. Bush administration out of power. Echoing sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Mr. Yearwood called America “a warrior nation” that “has been addicted to war from the start of its creation, and it is able to sustain its warfare habit only by mugging American taxpayers and believing in its mission as God’s chosen.”

Incidentally, Mr. Jones founded Green for All and was on the board of the Apollo Alliance, a hard-left environmentalist group that brags it dictated the “green jobs” program in the February stimulus bill to Congress. Mr. Jones also co-founded Color of Change, a left-wing racial grievance group urging an advertiser boycott of Glenn Beck’s TV program after Mr. Beck called the president a “racist.”

Mr. Jones is the self-described communist who became the Ward Churchill of the environmentalist movement when it was revealed last week that he signed a 2004 petition accusing the Bush administration of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks. He quit in the dead of night over the weekend, blaming “opponents of reform” for mounting “a vicious smear campaign” against him.

Mr. Jones also founded a Marxist group that on the day after the attacks blamed America for those attacks. A communique from Sept. 12, 2001, mourned the loss of “of innocent working class people … and those who would surely lose their lives in subsequent U.S. attacks overseas.”

It’s unclear if the communist group cared about non-working-class people who died on Sept. 11. Perhaps Mr. Jones thought the attacks were an instance of America’s “chickens coming home to roost” and that those who died in the World Trade Center got what they deserved because they were “little Eichmanns” — to use Mr. Churchill’s words.

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy.

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