Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - The former White House environmental czar who quit last year after coming under fire from conservative commentators says this week's controversy over the firing of Shirley Sherrod is "a learning moment" for the nation.
Van Jones, who left his post on the Council on Environmental Quality in September 2009, spoke of the forced resignation of the Agriculture Department employee at a session of the Netroots Nation convention of progressive activists Friday.
Jones resigned after six months in office following a firestorm of criticism, particularly from Fox News host Glenn Beck, over some of his views and past statements. He was faulted specifically for a so-called "truther" petition he had signed calling for an investigation into government involvement of the September 11 attacks and derogatory comments he had made about Republicans caught on videotape well before joining the administration.
When he was introduced at the session Friday morning he received a standing ovation from the audience. Many in the progressive community had criticized the administration for not fully supporting Jones when he came under attack.
"Last year I was a White House official," Jones told the audience. "[Now] I have a little bit more time," he said with a laugh.
He said in the last few years "all my dreams and all my nightmares" have been realized.
Regarding the rise in online communications in the last few years Jones said, "We are in a new world...we have never been here before."
Explaining society doesn't have the old gate keepers that vetted stories before they were made public, he said today's information system has taken "big steps forward" but added. "We have taken away our immune system."
"Eventually 5 percent of the nation will have had an experience like mine...then it will be 15 percent," he said. Ultimately, Van Jones said such stories will stop because there will be too much of a reaction.