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Van Jones' Misguided View

By Richard B. Muhammad - Editor | Last updated: Dec 20, 2016 - 4:02:02 PM

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Van Jones appears on The View in early December. Photo/screenshot: Facebook
Van Jones should know a thing or two about mischaracterizations, false narratives and unequal comparisons. The CNN contributor was driven out of the Obama White House by Republicans who accused him of a ton of things—ranging from accusations he was a Communist, to charges he was a left wing extremist, to the charge that he blamed President Bush George Bush for the 9-11 attack, to calling Republicans a bunch of a--holes.

Mr. Jones had been tapped as the special advisor for green jobs in the first Obama term. He ultimately resigned under GOP pressure placed on the first Black president. But as he walked away in September 2009, he issued this statement: “On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”

It would been have nice if Mr. Jones had recalled his own words on “The View,” during a segment in early December on the daily talk show featuring Whoopi Goldberg. In a clip posted by The View, Mr. Jones tries to make an argument about why trusting President-elect Trump becomes difficult or, at least, why there are reasons to be a little leery. One of those reasons, he argues, is the president-elect’s choices for leadership posts inside the new administration. As an example he cites Steve Bannon formerly of the alt-right Breitbart website. But he takes a wrong turn in making his point: “Can you imagine if Barack Obama, elected president, said, ‘the first person I am appointing to be my advisor is the former head of Louis Farrakhan’s Final Call publication, give me a chance.’ This is important to me because we have to give him a chance but we don’t have to give him a pass on everything.”

It’s true that President-elect Trump should be held accountable for his choices, his words and his history. But don’t distort the history of The Final Call newspaper and the work of Min. Farrakhan. Don’t try to equate efforts to oppose White Supremacy and systemic oppression with the efforts of those who perpetuate systemic racism and the institutions that perpetuate Black suffering.

The Final Call doesn’t print false news. The Final Call doesn’t incite attacks on innocent people or attacks on unsuspecting organizations or institutions. The Final Call doesn’t tell lies in order to gain readers or notoriety. Our purpose, principles and the character of the man who founded The Final Call, Min. Farrakhan, prohibit us from doing so. If Mr. Jones reviewed The Final Call he might find coverage of issues like environmental racism, online organizing, U.S. political prisoners and social inequality featured on our news pages. Such issues that once were, and perhaps still are, important to him. Mr. Jones would also find a piece defending him as suffered the right wing assault published in The Final Call in 2009. Or better yet a 2009 piece featured Mr. Jones, founder of Green for All and author of “The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.” He talked about the Green Economy and its relevance to Black folk and importance to America’s future.

Or maybe Mr. Jones believes the only time we got things right was when he was quoted or defended?

Whether an instruction has gone out for all acceptable Negroes or acceptable Negroes feel especially put upon to prove their loyalty, there is a horrible trend developing of trying to toss Minister Farrakhan under the bus whenever something is said about Trump or when some comparison to Mr. Trump is sought.

The truth is Min. Farrakhan’s life’s work stands for itself: he has defended Black politicians, leaders, activists, athletes, scholars and those who society would call nobodies. He brought the Nation of Islam back from government-induced destruction and has literally taught millions of people and improved their lives. The Minister has earnestly sought operational unity inside Black America and suffered insult after unwarranted insult. He has been falsely maligned and evil spoken of because he remains unapologetic and strong in the face of White opposition. He has called for reconciliation between religious faiths and unity in the fractured world of Islam. His ministry has bound the wounded and broken hearted, if you doubt it watch him walk the streets and see how people flock to him and thank him. Better yet go from city to city as he travels and watch the high and the mighty express their admiration and even love for him in private—so long as White folks don’t find out.

It’s understandable that Mr. Jones may be still traumatized from the presidential election and his tearful plea for someone to explain what happened. How did the country that elected Barack Obama and Change We Can Believe In turn to the divisive Make America Great Again aka Make America White Again message of Donald Trump? he asked. “How do I explain this to my children?” he asked on CNN election night. “We haven’t talked about race. This was a white lash. This was a white lash against a changing country. It was a white lash against a Black president in part and that’s where the pain comes,” he said.

Min. Farrakhan isn’t responsible for any of the hatred and deep White animus and Mr. Jones knows that. But for these one song choirs, slandering Min. Farrakhan is the popular tune to use when appealing to Whites. And it stems from a single, solitary, sad truth: “All of you that want national and state prominence: Sometimes I am the ‘litmus test’ to see if White folk can do anything good for you. And some of you are so weak and so cowardly, that your desires mean more than the integrity of your being,” observed Min. Farrakhan in a message delivered Oct. 30 at Mosque Maryam in Chicago.

But to Mr. Jones and all the others of his ilk, those of us know the truth of Farrakhan will tell the truth and challenge you and your lies. You don’t diminish the Minister, you diminish yourself. And if you choose to be a big man in the world of your slave master help yourself. But a free man walks in his own house, sets his own agenda and carries his own name. But we thank you for mentioning The Final Call. At least you got the name right.

—Richard B. Muhammad, editor

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