WASHINGTON -- So Van Jones, the defenestrated White House green-jobs czar, once called Republicans "a--holes." Big deal. I've said worse about Democrats. I've said worse about Republicans. I've said worse about members of my family (you know who you are).
How prissy have we become? Are we allowed no salt in our linguistic diets?
Having once written a column praising Vice President Cheney's pithy deployment of the F-word -- on the floor of the Senate, no less -- I rise in defense of Jones. True, Jones' particular choice of epithet had none of the one-syllable concision, the onomatopoeic suggestiveness, the explosive charm of Cheney's. But you don't fire a guy for style.
Another charge was that Jones was a self-proclaimed communist. I can't get too excited about this either. In today's America, to be a communist is a pose, not a conviction. After the Soviet collapse, Marxism is a relic, a pathetic anachronism reduced to its last redoubts: North Korea, Cuba and the English departments of the more expensive American universities.
In any case, every administration is allowed a couple of wing nuts among its 8,000 appointees. As long as they're not in charge of foreign policy or the Fed, who cares?
Other critics are scandalized that Jones once accused "white environmentalists" of "essentially steering poison into the people of colored communities."
In fact, from a global perspective, Jones is right. Environmentalists -- overwhelmingly white and middle/upper class -- have blocked drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. From where do you think the world gets the missing oil? From the poor, exploited, poisoned people of the Niger Delta, the Amazon Basin and other infinitely less-regulated and infinitely dirtier regions of the Third World.
Affluent enviros are all for wind farms, until one is proposed that might mar the serenity of a sail from the crew-necked precincts near Nantucket Sound. Then it's clean energy for thee, not for me.
Jones' genius as an ideological entrepreneur was to mine white liberal anxiety -- they are quite aware of their own NIMBY hypocrisy -- by selling them the "green jobs" shtick to reconcile class/racial guilt with environmental enthusiasm, thus making them feel better about themselves.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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