When it comes to political attacks, there are cheap shots, and then there are cheap shots. But the attack in this story defies both categories. In fact, it doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as cheapness, or shooting.
The Washington Times reports that Van Jones’ organization, Color of Change, has cut an ad designed to target corporate sponsors of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization that has been in the crosshairs of progressives for quite some time because of its aggressive and successful strategy of pushing model free market legislation. The goal of the ads is to publicly shame corporations into withdrawing their support from ALEC.
Typical progressive tactics, you might think, but in this case, they go far further. You see, one particular ad that Color of Change ran against Johnson and Johnson stoops to a level so unbelievably low that it has to be heard to be believed. Listen here. The transcript follows, courtesy of the Times:
Woman:You know Johnson & Johnson?
Man: Uh..yeah. Why?
Woman: They’re funding an organization called ALEC…the American Legislative Exchange Council? It’s attacking the rights of black folks, latinos, and workers in states across the country. It spread the shoot first law that protected Trayvon Martin’s killer and laws that suppress the black vote.
Man: And Johnson & Johnson gives money to that?
Announcer: Tell Johnson & Johnson to stop funding ALEC.
Yes, that’s right. According to Van Jones’ organization, ALEC is indirectly responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin because it supports “Stand Your Ground” laws, and supports “voter suppression” because it supports Voter ID laws. Never mind that in the case of Martin, it’s not even clear that Zimmerman was protected under the Stand Your Ground Law because the case hasn’t been resolved yet, and nor is it clear that Zimmerman is a cold-blooded murderer the way the ad implies. More to the point, according to this logic, every liberal lawmaker who has ever drafted a self-defense law is indirectly responsible for every murder that was ever perpetrated by someone who claimed protection under such a law, however disingenuously. This is, quite simply, morally and logically bankrupt.
And Color of Change is proud of these tactics. Consider these paragraphs from their press release on the ads:
“With these ads, we are spreading the news about Johnson & Johnson’s ties to ALEC even more aggressively,” said ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “Our goal is to help consumers understand that Johnson & Johnson helps fund a secretive and undemocratic organization that has passed laws that restrict access to the polls for Black folks, Latinos, low-income voters and other marginalized groups. The stakes are too high, and Americans deserve to know when their spending habits promote polices that are at odds with their values.”
The ads will air this week on radio stations targeting African Americans in Chicago, DC and New Brunswick, NJ, where Johnson & Johnson headquarters are located. The ads will also air in Sanford, FL, where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed in February. The unarmed teenager’s killer, George Zimmerman, evaded arrest for more than a month as his defenders pointed to Florida’s “stand your ground” as justification for his actions. The NRA and ALEC exported this law to more than 20 states across the country, jeopardizing the safety of Americans nationwide.
ColorOfChange began contacting Johnson & Johnson in November of last year in an effort to educate the company about ALEC’s role in voter suppression. The ColorOfChange community and members of allied organizations began calling the company’s leadership in April to amplify the demand to drop ALEC. Johnson & Johnson has refused to do so, even as competitor Procter & Gamble announced in April that it would end its membership in the right-wing policy group.
Since ColorOfChange launched its campaign, 18 companies have announced that they will end their memberships. These companies include Wal-Mart, Amazon, Procter & Gamble, Yum! Brands, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis and publisher of science and health information), Kaplan, Scantron, Medtronic, American Traffic Solutions and Arizona Public Service.
Vile, even for Van Jones. Still, at least the ads are getting the attention they deserve now, and perhaps now that they are subject to scrutiny, this over-the-top, entirely unwarranted attack will backfire. To any rational person, it should be self-discrediting.