Last night I watched Van Jones on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. A few important things to know:
- Van Jones makes the short list of my media heroes
- I first encountered Van Jones during election night coverage, on CNN where they were making Wolf Blitzer stand for the entire 5 hours of coverage.
- Trevor Noah has been a crucial piece of my ability to cope/understand with the brave new world we’re facing. (To understand more about that, I recommend this piece from Vox.)
I said to my mother last night, “He’s got a bold taste in ties, he’s well-spoken, and he’s capable of articulating nuance. What more can we ask for?” And that is truly the basis of my strident appreciation of Mr. Jones. That capacity for nuance and his equal commitment to speaking unvarnished truth are desperately needed right now. He correctly challenged the notion that all Trump supporters are bigots, and doubled down by saying that the Left has failed to address the concerns of many of the people who, as he put it, held their noses and voted for Trump.
I was particularly impressed by his easy association between people who voted for Hillary as “the lesser of two evils” and those who did the same with Trump. And that doesn’t even touch on all the people who (as I’ve pointed out before) didn’t vote for anyone at all, either because they were unable to do so, or were unmotivated to do so.
I was especially moved by his answer to the question Trevor posed at the end of the broadcast portion of the interview, about how he can stand to keep extending a hand. It is something worth hearing (or reading) as we move forward and people ask themselves why they should have to continue to be the bigger person.
How can you look at Nelson Mandela, who went through much worse than I’m ever going to go through, dealing with much worse people. And he didn’t give up. How can I look at an Ella Jo Baker, a Fannie Lou Hamer, a Martin Luther King? They shot King in the face the year I was born because he was trying to fight for these ideals. I have one bad election and some bad tweets and I quit? I can’t do that. I’m gonna tell you, you cannot––especially this younger generation… They can’t quit either. I’m a ninth generation American. A ninth generation American. I’m the first one in my family born with all my rights. My relatives didn’t quit, and I’m not going to either, and neither should these young people. We’re just getting started.
–Van Jones, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, 12 Dec 2016.
Long story short: Van Jones is my hero. And right now, we need all the heroes we can get.