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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What We Learn from Van Jones: Vicious Attacks Must Not Silence Progressive Leaders

The resignation of Van Jones silences a much-needed progressive voice in the administration. There is no doubt he will once again don the mantle of advocacy he wears so well and continue to do great work fighting for the environment and civil rights.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jones is not the first, nor will he be the last, target of manufactured right-wing outrage or partisan witch hunts. Just ask Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose stellar career and accomplishments were reduced by the right wing to attacks on her “wise Latina” phrase. Or ask Tom Perez and Dawn Johnsen, two nominees to senior Justice Department posts who still await confirmation amidst partisan gameplaying.

Those yelling the loudest now about targeting administration officials--many of whom are women and people of color--for "extremist views" are the same voices who passionately defend the likes of John Ashcroft, Jay Bybee, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Van Jones’ forced resignation is a hard lesson for our progressive community. We have always known the corrosive effect the organized right wing has on reasonable debate, and their willingness to lie and wage baseless attacks on the character of good and strong leaders.

But instead of each group defending leaders of our own communities, all of us -- environmentalists, civil rights, women’s, human rights groups, you name it – must work together to defend progressive leaders from the kind of vicious attacks that have denied America a creative, innovative public servant like Van Jones, and that threaten to keep Dawn Johnsen, Tom Perez, and others from serving in the Obama administration.

Van Jones has much more to offer this country, and Alliance for Justice looks forward to proudly standing with him and other committed progressives to fight for the change America needs.

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