Van Jones Distinguishes Between the American Dream and the American Fantasy

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Green activist Van Jones delivered a thrilling speech at Netroots Nation on Saturday, rolling out his new organization, “Rebuild the Dream” which will kick off this summer and culminate in a rally in Washington in October. Jones, who has become a staple at Netroots, distinguished between the American Dream and the “American Fantasy” propagated by the right. He called the latter “Dream killers, who have a wrecking ball agenda for our country. A wrecking ball for America.” Jones also challenged right-wing Fox News commentator Glenn Beck to a debate. (Beck declined the offer yesterday, calling Jones, an “unrepentant Communist revolutionary”.

Here’s an excerpt from Van Jones’ speech (and watch The UpTake’s exclusive interview with Van Jones).

Now, some of you all are liberal, you might have a few progressives in here, so let me make sure you understand what I mean when I say killing the American Dream. I’m not talking about killing the American “Fantasy”, okay? The American Fantasy: everybody’s gonna be rich, you buy a lot of things, you’ll be happy? No, that’s an American Fantasy, which means it’s the American nightmare. That needs to go. That needs to go. We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in that at all.

I’m talking about something much, much deeper than that. Something that we had in this country until the commercializers turned it into something else. The American Dream was simply the idea that hard work should pay in our country. That you should be able to get up in the morning in America, and if you willing to and are able to work, walk out your front door, go to a dignified job, put in a good day’s work and come back home with a paycheck that you can feed your family with and give your children a better life. That’s the American Dream. That’s what our parents fought for and our grandparents fought for and we should not let it be taken away from us on our watch. That’s the American Dream.

And we have Dream killers. Dream killers, who have a wrecking ball agenda for our country. A wrecking ball for America. But they painted that wrecking ball red, white and blue. And they think we’re going to salute their red, white and blue wrecking ball? They got another thought coming in the United States of America. No. It’s time for the deep patriots to stand up to the cheap patriots. It’s time for the deep patriots who love this country and who love everybody in this country, no matter what color you are or who you want to marry or what kind of piercing you got in your nose, we love everybody, we are the deep patriots. They’re the cheap patriots and I’m tired of them questioning us and what we stand for.

So are we going to stand together?

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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