Rory Cooper, writing at the Heritage Foundation blog, uncovers a sinister conspiracy to suppress free speech originating from White House and environmental adviser Van Jones, who co-founded Color of Change before leaving in 2005:

But the new development is their potential use of closely affiliated groups, like one recently operated by top White House advisor Van Jones, to launch organized attacks on commentators like Glenn Beck and Fox News. Apparently Beck, certainly no friend of the Obama administration and never advertised as such, said something that the White House chorus deemed offensive enough to launch an underground attack on his show’s advertisers. Whether Beck said something controversial or not about the President’s reaction to the Henry Louis Gates arrest is not the question. But is it appropriate for the White House to be judge and jury of the fourth estate, and are they using Chicago-style tactics to silence their critics?

So not only is Cooper, without any evidence whatsoever, alleging that the White House ordered Color of Change to go after Glenn Beck, the online petition gathered by the group that resulted in major advertisers requesting their ads be removed from the show is indicative of a "Battle Against Free Speech." In order to buy this, you'd not only have to conclude that the White House controls Color of Change armed with nothing more than an article from WorldNetDaily, home of the Kenyan Birth Certificate, you'd have to assume that they somehow forcibly coerced the thousands of signatures from CoC's members--unless of course, Cooper just thinks that people who don't share his opinions don't have a right to express them. But in order to make this a "free speech" issue, the government has to be involved, so Cooper employs the same power of logic and reasoning that gave us Birthers and Death Panels. Especially since CoC has been going after Fox since before Obama had even won Iowa.

The simplest explanation is that CoC is a black grassroots organization that is comprised of Obama's strongest and most motivated supporters--black folks. They didn't like what Beck said and they took the terribly time-consuming step of signing an online petition that lands in their inbox with their names and contact information already filled in. This is absolutely outrageous, if, like Sarah Palin and apparently Rory Cooper, you believe the First Amendment only protects the right of conservatives to say outrageous things without being criticized. If conservatives don't stand up to the dire threat to free speech comprised by online petitions and sternly worded letters, who will? 

UPDATE: A clarification. CoC head James Rucker explains that Van Jones had little involvement in the day to day operations of CoC shortly after its founding, because he was running the Ella Baker Center. But he didn't officially leave until May of 2008.

-- A. Serwer

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