What Does Van Jones Resigning Mean for Environmental Communication?

Like most people, I was surprised and disappointed that Van Jones resigned from his post as Special Adviser for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality under President Obama’s administration. Jeff Chang has the best background summary post I’ve seen online. It is no doubt that the Right appears particularly scared when African Americans earn positions of power, particularly when those figures are able to combine the goals of environmentalism with those of social justice.

If “green jobs” can be painted as “communism” these days (as Glenn Beck has done with Jones), then we have entered a bizarre rhetorical era indeed. Anyone who has read Jones’ NYT bestseller, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, or seen an interview with him knows he is an ardent Capitalist with a capital “C”: his goal is to use capitalism to save the environment. It’s pretty straightforward. So, I wonder what this resignation will mean for the future of this part of the environmental movement? Will this embolden more radical voices to remind the Right that Jones is not the voice of radical environmentalism? Or will this temper all of us to settle for more piecemeal compromises?

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About Phaedra C. Pezzullo

Pezzullo is an Associate Professor at Indiana University (U.S.A.). She is author of *Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Travel, Pollution, and Environmental Justice* (University of Alabama Press), co-editor of *Environmental Justice and Environmentalism: The Social Justice Challenge to Environmentalism* (MIT, with Ronald Sandler), and editor of a 2008 special issue of the journal *Cultural Studies* on the environment.
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1 Response to What Does Van Jones Resigning Mean for Environmental Communication?

  1. Steve Schwarze says:

    I think it means: when a voice on the left comes up with a compelling way of transcending “jobs v. environment,” the knives come out on the right.

    My question is what it means for advocacy on the climate bill both from green groups as well as the admin. Now that the commie/watermelon meme has been personified, does it become more plausible? Does it keep the admin from borrowing Jones’s rhetoric to generate support for action on climate?

    I have to wonder what route Jones is going to take. Is he going to lay low? Tack left to move the center for the admin?

    I still think there is something fishy about the resignation. It would be such an easy job to toss aside the hysteria, and for Obama to support him–the Gawker piece from last week provides the blueprint. What gives?

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