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CNN contributor Van Jones received the Courage and Civility Award and $ 100 million from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Tuesday.
Bezos made the award announcement tangential to his personally financed Blue Origin space flight, which he was planning to loan to Van Jones and chef José Andrés. The Amazon billionaire claimed that he awarded these two because of their “proven courage” and their attempts to “unite” in a divided world.
“We need clubs and not detractors,” said Bezos. “We need people who argue hard and act hard for what they believe. But they always do this with courtesy and never ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately, we live in a world where too often this is not the case. But we have role models. “.”
Jones accepted the award on a live CNN broadcast hosted by Anderson Cooper.
“You bet on me and I appreciate it,” said Jones.
The award is part of a philanthropic initiative that provides a person with $ 100 million to donate to a charity or foundation of their choice.
“They can give anything for their own charity. Or they can share the wealth. It’s up to them,” said Bezos.
Jones’ acceptance of the award comes after years in which the CNN commentator has made controversial and divisive statements.
Above all, Van Jones described the election victory of former President Donald Trump in 2016 as “a white whip against a black president”.
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“It’s hard for many of us to be parents tonight. Tell your children, don’t be a bully. Tell your children, don’t be a fanatic … And then you have this result … how do I explain this to my children? “Jones said back in 2016.” That was a ‘white whip’. That was a ‘white whip’. Whip “against a changing country. It was in part a” white whip “against a black president.”
In 2019, Jones commented on Trump’s State of the Union by saying, “I saw this as a psychotically incoherent speech with biscuits and dog poop.”
Jones has also attacked other Republican politicians with equal avarice. After South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s response to President Joe Biden’s First State of the Nation, Jones implied that the choice was made solely because of his race.
“With that in mind, there’s a reason they put him in,” commented Jones. “He’s the best they have. He can get this message across to talk about – he can try to polish up all the Republican nonsense without the sharp edges better than the rest. “
Additionally, in a 2018 CNN segment, Jones equated the National Rifle Association with the Ku Klux Klan.
“So now you have a whole generation of young people who essentially see the NRA as their enemy. To them, the NRA is like the KKK.”
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This award was announced after Jeff Bezos and three others were introduced into a Bezos-funded “New Shepard” capsule. After the trip, Bezos thanked his Amazon customers and employees for making the trip into space possible, which was met with a setback from various critics.