News’ View: Jones needs to articulate his position

Michael Jones ’11 has some explaining to do.

A year and a half ago, a month before he was to come to Yale for his freshman year, Jones decided to weigh in on his blog — michaelbjones.blogspot.com — about New Haven’s Elm City Resident Card program, which had been approved that summer. And Jones did not hold back.

“What New Haven is doing is stupid,” he wrote, calling his fellow Yalies “out of touch with reality.”

“I just don’t understand how you can support a policy like New Haven’s, where the city is, in essence, granting legalization within their municipality without any attempt to deter future illegal immigration,” Jones explained. “Folks, this is ILLEGAL.”

Jones essentially argued that Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and the New Haven Board of Aldermen were only making the problem worse by “institutionally advocating something illegal” before the federal government reforms immigration policy and revamps border security. It was essentially the same argument that former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made when he visited the Yale Law School last spring.

Jones’ blog post — which he has since taken offline — was first pointed out in a News article yesterday. Asked about what he wrote, Jones said his response to the ID program was “visceral” — despite the fact he wrote his post 51 days after it had actually been approved — and that he now thinks the city was right to act while the federal government was “dragging its feet,” as he put it, on immigration reform.

We are not exactly sure what that means, since Jones made the opposite argument — that cities should not act before the federal government does — on his blog. And we don’t know when or why Jones’ opinion on the issue changed.

What we are sure about is that the Elm City Resident Program has been among the most central initiatives with which Ward 1 residents have engaged in recent years. Dozens of students lobbied the Board of Aldermen in favor of the proposal in 2007; then-Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 said at the time that the program spawned “by far the most proactive student interest I’ve seen regarding any New Haven issue during my term.”

Indeed, we remember the long lines in Dwight Hall a little over a year ago during New Haven Solidarity Week, a five-day effort by two dozen undergraduate and graduate student groups to encourage Yalies to sign up for the ID program. Shalek was among the first in line to get his ID. So was his eventual successor, Rachel Plattus ’09.

Before the ID card program was passed, DeStefano summed up its meaning to this community. “If New Haven doesn’t stand up, who will stand up?” he asked. “In the end, this is about who we are as a city.”

Maybe Jones has come to recognize that over his three semesters at Yale; we certainly hope so.

What he called a “stupid” idea is one that many people in this community cherish as one of the Elm City’s most innovative public policies. So long as Jones is seeking to represent a district made up almost entirely by Yalies, he should tell voters what he thinks now, and when, why and how his mind was changed.

Jones needs to clarify his position on this critical issue. And he needs to do so publicly, as part of his campaign.

Comments

  • Hiero II

    I didn't know anything about Mike Jones before reading this editorial, but I know UNEQUIVOCALLY SUPPORT Michael Jones. Anyone who supports the Elm City Resident Card program, as Jones said before, is out of touch with reality.

    It's pathetic that the YDN is acting as though there's this monolithic consensus of support in favor of the Elm City ID. It's even more pathetic that they have devoted an entire editorial to intimidating a single man into falling lock-step behind the idiocracy we have here at Yale.

    Shame on you, Mr. Kaplan. Shame on you.

  • Anonymous

    Amen!

  • Anonymous

    Amen to the editorial, I mean. Whether or not the Elm Card is right, Jones is showing questionable integrity here.

  • Pathetic?

    It's not pathetic to express an opinion to someone who is running for public office, especially since there is not (yet?) another candidate! I would posit that it is the YDN's responsibility to raise these questions with special attention, because there's no loyal opposition and therefore no way to express dissent with Jones' views.

    Also, whichever of Jones' opposite positions you prefer, you've got to admit that his evolution is not especially convincing. If you've got a position, stand behind it. If you've changed your mind, provide an explanation!

  • Yale Med Student

    To the editor,

    Jones made these comments while he was in high school. Many people, Jones included, have the knee-jerk reaction that the Elm City ID has no other purpose than to support an illegal enterprise. It's only reasonable to admit that there is some logic to that argument, especially if one hasn't thought too deeply about the issue. Undocumented immigrants technically broke the law and thus deserve to be punished and should not receive our help, so the thinking goes.

    Then Jones came to Yale, and had the opportunity to ponder the issue more deeply and to discuss it with his peers. In the process, he maybe made a discovery. He maybe figured out that just because an ideology is embedded in law doesn't make it right. He maybe remembered the Jim Crow south, Nazi Germany, Rwanda, colonial India or apartheid South Africa as other examples where humans were divided by law into unequal classes based on race, religion, or ethnicity - and he understood how wrong those laws were, how they were violations of human rights. He maybe realized that our current immigration laws are really just discrimination based on place of birth, probably with a hint of racism. He maybe came to understand that our laws are a scar upon our society, and that regardless of one's opinion on that debate a violation of immigration law (hardly a felony) to feed one's family (hardly evil) does not give us the right to deny these individuals their basic human rights (Elm City IDs are used to get bank accounts so that immigrants aren't carrying large amounts of cash which make them targets for muggings).

    Jones went from a knee-jerk reaction, which he debated openly, to a more mature understanding of the situation, and he changed his mind. That's what you're supposed to do at Yale - learn to challenge your own beliefs and have the courage to leave one's pride behind and admit one's mistakes. One of America's biggest problems is that politicians are unable to go through this process without being labeled a "flip-flopper" and thus end up being rooted in their ideology.

    Perhaps the YDN should not be so hard on Mr. Jones?

    Disclaimer - I am in no way connected to Mr. Jones.

  • Yale Parent

    Obviously Jones is doing what most politicians do. He is sticking his finger out in the wind to see which way it's blowing and acting accordingly.

  • Recent Alum

    Jones was absolutely right as a high school student. It is unfortunate that he feels the need to change his position (or hide his true position) in order to get elected (though of course, no different from what most politicians do).

  • A Modest Proposal

    What if we just left the Ward 1 seat empty for a two-year cycle?

    If no one has specific contributions to offer to the table, especially in a time of economic crisis, then why waste the time?

    The Board can certainly manage without another rubber-stamp for the centrist-Democratic majority.

    Honestly, this whole 'student' representative thing is tiresome. What we actually need is just a representative, and at the very least, that should be an alum who cares about the city and plans on sticking around long enough to live with the consequences.

    Alums in New Haven! One of you, wake up and run!

  • Re: Yale Med Student

    Maybe Jones has indeed experienced such a transformation as Yale Med Student, but if that's the case he didn't seem to have voiced it to Martine Powers, who wrote yesterday's news analysis piece. If she did (and had just cut the quote down, as often happens in the YDN) then I would be surprised if the YDN's editors would have come out so strongly with this excellent editorial today.

    The editors are right- we need to hear an explanation from Jones himself. Politicians are certainly able to change their positions, but voters deserve to know how and why.

  • alum

    Modest Proposal: The problem with your proposal is that no alums live in Ward 1, because it is just dormitories.

    Hope Jones clarifies his position on this.

  • robert99

    We either have country or we have chaos. Why is it that many believe that any who arrive here by any means have rights to be here? Why stop there? Why can't I barge into Yale classes and enjoy the same rights as students to learn and exchange ideas? And perhaps be awarded some kind of a degree after the requisite time-in-grade. Mr. Jones was right the first time around.

  • @robert99

    You can't barge into Yale classes because you didn't EARN it. Admission to Yale is based on merit, not place of birth. Our society has rejected the idea of being born into privilege for centuries - you know, the idea that all men are created equal with the right to the pursuit of happiness.

    Unless, I guess, you were born in Mexico - or anywhere else outside our borders. It's discrimination based solely on the circumstance of your birth and the status of your parents.

  • @@robert99

    LOL at the idea of people earning spots at Yale. Even Yale admissions officers admit that many more qualified applicants apply than are accepted.