Washington, D.C.: The NAACP’s decision to bestow an Image Award on radical activist and former Obama Administration official Van Jones is drawing a stern rebuke from Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network.
"I understand that it's their award and the NAACP can give it to whomever they want," said Project 21's Massie. "But an Image Award is supposed to be reserved for 'outstanding achievement.' Can they really justify Jones' failed tenure in government and his continued wrong-headed views for such an honor? At this rate, I expect next year's ceremony will honor Lil' Wayne."
Jones, a one-time self-avowed communist who was appointed the Obama Administration's "green jobs" czar, left the White House in a storm of controversy in September 2009 after his radical beliefs (including past support of 9/11 conspiracy theories) and his vulgar comments about political opponents were reported in the media.
In a commentary justifying giving Jones an Image Award that posted on CNN.com, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous called Jones "an American treasure" who is "the most misunderstood man in America."
Massie replied: "Contrary to what Jealous asserts, the real story pursuant to Van Jones is that not even the Obama White House could support his radicalism. They threw him under the bus late on a Saturday night."
Jealous also wrote that Jones is "America's champion for green jobs" and "Van is working to make sure that our country does not lose out to India, China or Germany in the green industrial race."
"In this time of economic uncertainty, throwing our lot in with pipe dreams such as green jobs and cap-and-trade are suicide for the American worker," noted Massie. "An analysis of Spain's very aggressive green jobs program by Professor Gabriel Calzada of Madrid's Juan Carlos University found that each green job created there came with a $774,000 price tag, destroyed 2.2 regular jobs in the process and still had only a ten percent chance of actually becoming permanent. The cap-and-trade emissions regulations the White House is still pursuing is estimated to destroy millions of jobs annually and dramatically reduce national and individual earnings. And this would be done unilaterally, guaranteeing America could not compete with India and China. Quite simply, the Jones agenda is economic suicide. This I understand."
Brushing off Jones' previous radicalism, Jealous justified the award by saying Americans "ultimately judge people on what they are doing today for tomorrow, not for what they did yesterday." He cited the forgiveness of the late reformed segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace (D) and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) for "having defended racist organizations."
Massie responded: "Did Jealous forget that Byrd didn't just defend racists but was a member and recruiter for the KKK? I also didn't remember such forgiving attitudes toward Trent Lott, Don Imus and or conservative nominees to the Supreme Court in recent memory. This is all about the NAACP hitching its wagon to the political fringe and trying to make the best of what they must know in their hearts is a very bad thing."
"There are black doctors, lawyers and captains of industry who are better suited to be held up as the best of black America," said Project 21's Massie. "Giving an Image Award to Van Jones is a disservice to the NAACP and to America."
The NAACP Image Awards will be presented live on the Fox television network on February 26.
In 2004, Project 21 objected to the nomination of R. Kelly in the category of "outstanding album" at a time when he was facing charges of child pornography. The controversy led the NAACP to considering a morals clause for future nominees. Jones' award is a special one separate from the entertainment-related process related to Kelly's nomination.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy Research (www.nationalcenter.org).