Van Jones

So, what do you say about the Van Jones hubbub without starting a political firefight? I can say I don’t feel I know enough about him. I missed his speaking presentation at Greenbuild last year in Boston but I have heard that he is a very dynamic and inspirational speaker, focused on positive change. Van JonesI only watch Glenn Beck (or Keith Oberman, for that matter) when I am in an airport somewhere waiting for a flight and I try to make sure there is no food in my stomach at the time, so I don’t know much about his campaign to oust Jones or about the campaign conducted by opposing groups to have advertisers boycott Beck’s show for calling President Obama a racist. I DID see a bit of Beck’s teary “what has so divided us?” plea as he ripped into all politicians as evil and I wondered what planet I was on. As many of our mothers used to say “If you don’t have anything good to say….” Anyway, I digress….

What caught my attention was when NBC Nightly News showed an insert shot highlighting Van Jones name, apparently from a list of people who had signed a petition insinuating or claiming that the U.S. Government had known in advance the 9/11 attack plot and let it happen. Jones apparently has said he was just asked to sign some petition at a crowded event and didn’t read it. The detail that struck me was the name “Paul Hawken” a few lines above Van Jones’ name. Paul Hawken is an intellectual and inspirational leader to many in the green building movement and I find it strange that he would put his name to such a document, if it is what NBC portrayed it as. Did he also not know what he was signing? Did Van Jones just sign because he saw Paul Hawken’s name and figured it must be something legitimate? 

I’m not immune to conspiracy theory thinking. I believe it is a good sign of a curious mind. Maybe it’s why my Tivo is currently filled with NCIS episodes. However, whenever I start to consider any conspiracy theory seriously, I’m reminded of two other possibilities:

1) Sometimes you can just piss off too many people. Former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham did this. I watched him get impeached, recalled and grand juried at the same time. No conspiracy to get rid of him was needed because he managed to anger just about everyone, including the state’s university students that I represented. It’s much easier to tear things down than build up something positive. He only understood how to tear things down and people saw that and individually did what they could to stop it. I wish that could serve as a lesson for all the negative television pundits on both sides.

2) Never underestimate the power of negligence and incompetence to create disastrous consequences. See, for example, the recent SEC review of the Madoff fiasco. And that is just the poster child for all the Wall Street/Washington fiascos of the last few years. Conspiracy actually takes quite a bit of smarts, planning and logistics. Negligence and incompetence don’t take much effort. Just think about how much effort it takes to get to know what a political candidate really stands for before voting for them. And how much effort it takes to keep track of whether they are making good decisions. But think about the consequences of neglecting to do this. It would be great if we could support a media infrastructure with our eyeballs and/or our wallets that legitimately did some of this hard work for us. But then again, the media is just a giant corporate conspiracy to dumb down the electorate so that we can be mind-controlled by the Military Industrial Complex, right?

~ by Mick Dalrymple on September 14, 2009.

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