Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ralph Nader, on Barack Obama, and race

When Ralph Nader suggested, this week, that Barack Obama was trying to “talk white,” in order to attract white voters, he took yet another step, in his ongoing—and ugly—process of self-revelation.

Said Nader, of Obama: “He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically, he’s coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure…”

Said Nader: “I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?”

For Nader, unfortunately, such racially-oriented rhetoric is not new.

While in 2008 he suggests that Senator Obama is acting white, in 2000 he charged that Bill Clinton and Al Gore were acting black.

Nader said this, regarding appearances by Clinton and Gore in front of black congregations:

“They’ve got the cadence down, they pander. It’s disgusting to watch.”

Perhaps, in 2000, he envied the popularity of Clinton and Gore, in the African-American community.

Perhaps, in 2008, he is envious of Barack Obama’s popularity, among both black and white Americans.

Nader, too, seems to covet the moral potency with which the issue of civil rights has long been imbued.

Indeed: he routinely appropriates the language of civil rights, in discussing his agenda.

He has complained, frequently, of what he perceives to be the “political bigotry” that he and other third party candidates face from America’s two major political parties.

He has also inveighed, regularly—borrowing from the lexicon of civil rights—against what he calls “corporate supremacists.”

And there is this, from 2001: Nader spoke of what he called the “new slavery.” He said: "The new slavery is the ownership and control of the genetic inheritance of the world—the flora, the fauna and the human genes."

Thus, with this odd, perverse moral equivalence, did Nader trivialize the slavery of human beings, slavery which exists today, worldwide—and which is such a profound part of the heritage of African-Americans.

Nader has long believed that other candidates avoid addressing crucial issues. He clearly believes those candidates do not have his clarity of vision—or his moral heft.

Ralph Nader believes—arrogantly, bitterly, resentfully—in the supremacy of Ralph Nader.