Speaking at the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) on Friday, former Obama administration green jobs czar and political activist Van Jones praised the Arab Spring movement in the Middle East as “people powered” and “non-violent” and called for the United States to follow suit.
“They had the Arab spring, which was a people-powered, non-violent opportunity to change the conversation in those countries,” Jones said. “We should have an American Autumn--people-powered, non-violent.”
“But let’s change the conversation and get more voices in,” said Jones, who is a fellow at CAP and used the occasion to promote his American Dream movement, a left-wing political organization run by the liberal group MoveOn.org Civic Action, in partnership with dozens of other liberal groups ranging from the Hip Hop Caucus to the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood.
Jones also praised the Occupy Wall Street protests that have spread to cities outside of Manhattan, including to Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.
Protesters in the plaza range from animal rights activists and people offering “pagan circles” to anti-war groups such as Code Pink. The area is littered with the belongings of the protesters, including the sleeping bags of those who are camping at the site.
Van Jones encouraged guests at the CAP event to join his movement and support the Wall Street protestors, who he said have “moral clarity.”
“Join the American Dream movement,” Jones said. “Help the Occupy Wall Street movement.”
“Keep growing it in a positive, non-violent and hopeful way,” Jones said.
“When people speak truth to power, that takes courage,” Jones said. “I admire these young people so much.”
“People say, ‘What the heck, these young people, I can’t understand their messaging,’” Jones said. “Look, they may not have message clarity yet.”
But “they have moral clarity,” Jones said. “And that’s something. That’s something in this world.”
Jones also promoted his movement’s 10-point “Contract for the American Dream,” which includes universal Medicare, higher taxes for the wealthy, and charging a fee for trading on Wall Street.
According to a detailed timeline on the Guardian’s Web site, the “Arab spring” started in December 2010 in Tunisia when a man burned himself to death to protest his treatment by police. The timeline links to a Reuters’ article about the aftermath of the suicide.
“The violent clashes ended with the arrest of scores of people,” a witness told Reuters. “[There was] breaking of shop windows and smashing of cars, while police fired tear gas."
“Another witness, a relative of the man who set fire to himself, said outbreaks of rioting had continued into Sunday,” according to Reuters.
The United States is still supporting NATO military intervention in the Libyan protests that sparked a civil war and that has led to the death of as many as 30,000 people, according to a Sept. 8, 2011 report by the Associated Press.
Cross-posted from NewsBusters sister site CNSNews.com.