By Harvey Wasserman
Van Jones has been fed to King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).
Obama's one serious green bright spot been sacrificed at the McCarthyite altar of the corporate bloviation machine.
The brilliant, charismatic Jones was responsible for the administration's single significant accomplishment to date. With clarity and verve Jones finally brought to the mainstream the critical message that what's good for the environment is also good for the economy.
The convenience of this simple truth has long been known to the green power movement. Since the early 1970s we have argued that converting away from fossil and nuclear fuels--coal, oil, nukes & gas--and onto a Solartopian system based on renewables and efficiency is the only route to long-term prosperity. With community-based solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, mass transit, increased efficiency and efficiency, we can and must build a sustainable economy that will create jobs and geo-political stability.
An early articulation of this green-powered vision came at the "Toward Tomorrow" Fair at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1975. As the "No Nukes" movement was just gathering grassroots steam, we envisioned a community-based Solartopian energy system that would guarantee full employment and a survivable planet.
For the next quarter century, the No Nukes movement helped drive atomic energy into its economic and ecological black hole. As fossil fuels became ever more unsustainable, the vision took shape. Wind, solar and efficiency technologies boomed ahead.
But the multi-trillion-dollar fossil/nuke industry is nothing if not entrenched. Throughout the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush nightmare it made common wisdom of the Big Lie that saving the environment meant economic sacrifice. In fact, except for King CONG's short-term mega-profits, the opposite has always been true.
Van Jones finally broke through. As an informed, exciting and compelling presenter, Jones made clear that the "green collar economy" is tangible and terrific. In his writings, mass meetings, television and legislative testimony, Jones turned the corner on the message that what's good for the environment is not only good for the economy, it's essential. Appearing with the likes of Robert Redford on Larry King, and much more, Jones finally injected into the mainstream the message that there will be no prosperity, no full employment, and no survivable planet without the necessary and do-able conversion to a green-powered Earth.
With Jones running point, Obama has in fact made millions of critical dollars available for renewable energy. The Stimulus Package does include a significant sector of cash for those wishing to bring wind, photovoltaics and other Solartopian systems into their home, office and industrial energy mix.
But we've seen this before. Jimmy Carter took halting steps up the Solartopian highway in the late 1970s. Tens of thousands of green jobs were created in California and elsewhere. Then Ronald Reagan ripped the solar water heater off the White House roof and Gov. George Deukmejian killed Gov. Jerry Brown's tax credit program. The industry went into a tailspin, those thousands of jobs disappeared, and America's dependency on foreign oil soared out of control.
With Jones gone we have to worry that Obama might now repeat history. The pretext for forcing Jones out was pathetic. Like millions of Americans he signed a petition asking for an investigation into the 9/11 felling of the World Trade Center. He used the dreaded term "asshole" to accurately describe some Republicans, and then used it to describe himself and his friends. He may have said some things that some right winger might've construed as racist.
Did he kill someone? Did he engage in torture? Did he steal money? Is he a lousy parent?
This is McCarthyism at its most lethal, and administrative timidity at its most dangerous. If groveling to the corporate bloviators is Obama's strategy for making change, we are in deep deep trouble.
In fact, Van Jones, as imperfect as the rest of us, was Obama's critical fire starter in a green-powered revolution that is decades overdue. While the likes of Glenn Beck can crow over his demise, it's the gargantuan King CONG barons of fossil/nuke who are really in the saddle. Pushing Van Jones aside is a major coup for the destroyers of the planet, and a big loss for those of us who would re-power and save it.
We will, of course, continue to fight against fossil and nuclear power and for a green-powered Earth. But as it has been for decades, the going is rough. Will this administration really be with us?
Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA: OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.harveywasserman.com. In 1973 he helped coin the phrase "No Nukes."
Photo credit: Peg McPhearson