On Tuesday night, CNN’s Van Jones and Jeffrey Lord got into an intense debate about race, American politics and the KKK. The exchange was so heated that other TV pundits sat in silence while the two men went head-to-head.
The debate kicked off when Jones criticized Donald Trump for not distancing himself enough from the KKK, and Lord, a Trump supporter, rushed to the candidate’s defense.
“The things that Donald Trump has done, and not just in this race, are horribly offensive,” Jones insisted.
“You need to take a serious look at the fact that this man is playing fast and loose. When he talks about terrorism, he gets passionate, he says, ‘No, this is wrong,'” Jones then added.”When he talks about the Klan, [he says] ‘Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know.’ That’s wrong!”
Lord turned from the topic at hand and blasted liberals and the Democratic party: “This whole attitude of dividing by race is still here, and this is how Democrats do the deal.”
“You are dividing people — this is what liberals do,” Lord added. “You are dividing people by race. This is what liberalism is all about.”
Jones reminded Lord that he argued a double-standard was at work in media critiques of Trump’s KKK support but not President Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s past connection. Jones wouldn’t let it fly.
“Reverend Wright never lynched anybody!” Jones said. “Reverend Wright never put anybody on a post. And you guys play these word games, and it’s wrong to do in America. It is wrong to do!”
Jones went on to criticize the Republican party as a whole, in a very personal and passionate moment.
“I have a kid, seven years old, he can’t even watch TV. I used to say, ‘I don’t want you watching the Kardashians, I want you watching the news so you can learn something,'” Jones said. “Watching all this nonsense in your party, he turns around and says, ‘Dad you’re a liar.’ He doesn’t even know what the word means. But he sees so much vitriol from your party he brings that into our house.”
“We have to be passionate about making sure that this country is color-blind,” Lord responded. “We have to, as President Kennedy used to say, [make sure] that race has no place in American life or law. That’s what we have to do, and we have lost that totally because the Democratic party insists on dividing people by race and it’s wrong, it’s morally wrong.”
You may remember Van Jones from the early Obama administration years. In 2009 Jones resigned from his “green jobs czar” position at the White House, after scrutiny from the Republican right over past comments.
“Here is what Trump should have said about the Klan and their ilk:
“The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.”
Those words are not mine. They belong to Ronald Reagan, after the Klan offered him their endorsement. Reagan was no friend to black and brown Americans. But he knew better than to legitimize violence and hatred.
I pray for America’s sake that Trump learns from Reagan’s example.”