Left-wing pundit and CNN commentator Van Jones is being pilloried by the liberal social media outrage mob for stating some inconvenient truths during a panel session at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The reaction to Van Jones’ Feb. 28th commentary lays bare the utter intolerance by many on the Left for giving Conservatives credit for doing anything good or for trying to work in a bipartisan manner to make meaningful changes.
Van Jones’ invitation to CPAC was inspired by his role in working on behalf of Democrats to push the White House’s support of the First Step Act, which passed Congress and was signed by the President in December. Jones reportedly worked closely with White House advisor Jared Kushner to successfully rally all-around support for the legislation, which the New York Times called the “most significant changes to the criminal justice system in a generation.” In essence, the bill is designed to unwind “tough-on-crime” federal policies that were initiated in large part by the Clinton Administration as part of its “War on Drugs,” and led to what is believed to be a disproportionate incarceration of Black Americans over White Americans. The legislation will lead to the early release of thousands of federal prisoners and ensure that future sentencing is fairer and geared towards rehabilitation rather than punishment. It is also designed to significantly improve prison conditions and the lives of prisoners.
Whatever the merits of the legislation and Jones’s role in getting it passed, his mere attendance at the annual conservative conference was enough to stir up Left-wing social media outrage before he had even spoken, with people on Twitter and other social media calling him a “sellout,” “traitor,” “Uncle Tom,” and other related epithets. But the social media outrage erupted in force and great numbers after Jones gave Conservatives credit for leading the nation’s push for criminal justice reform, citing both recent federal legislation and reform efforts by at least 19 Republican-led states.
In praising the recent bipartisan passage of the “First Step Act,” the most comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation in decades, Jones said, “the conservative movement in this country, unfortunately, from my point of view, is now the leader on this issue of reform,” adding that Conservatives are “stealing my issue.” Jones said that on the state level, Republican governors are being “tough on the dollar, tough on crime, and shrinking prison populations.” He also said that Conservatives need to “take some dadgum credit for being smart—take some dadgum credit for getting it right.” Jones also lent his support for more bipartisanship efforts in Congress by stating, “I’ve never seen a bird fly with only a left wing—we need each other.”
Spurred on in part by Leftist media—such as Vox’s Aaron Rupar—live-tweeting the event, social media commentary immediately started pillorying Jones for his statements. Jones’s CPAC commentary spurred thousands of Tweets within an hour, and even 24 hours later #Van Jones was generating a new tweet every few seconds. Overall, the ratio trends heavily to the negative, with only about two out of every 10 offering support for Jones. The commentary and memes run the gamut from incredulity to outright hatred and everything in between, with sentiment suggesting that Jones needs to be excommunicated from the Democratic Party, if not worse. Commentary also tended to strongly disparage Jones for suggesting the need for more bipartisanship, with sentiment suggesting that the idea itself was treasonous.
The intolerance from the Left for all three of Jones’s alleged transgressions—attending CPAC in the first place, giving credit to Conservatives, and encouraging bipartisanship—is utterly appalling and does not bode well for finding common ground between our sharply divided country. In fairness it should be noted that some on the Right also chastised Jones for stating during the CPAC panel session that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens. However, such commentary on Twitter only amounted to about one out of 50 or so tweets.
National Review—Van Jones: Conservatives Are ‘Leaders’ on Criminal Justice Reform
The New York Times—Trump Embraces a Path to Revise U.S. Sentencing and Prison Laws
The Federalist—Van Jones Gets Flak From The Left For Praising Conservatives at CPAC