By Joe Sims
I got a call yesterday from a subscriber in Boston complaining that PA hasn't said much about Ralph Nader's ill-advised entry into the US presidential campaign. “Why aren't you covering him,” she asked. “Point taken,” I replied, “but don't you think he's playing a negative role both now and in the past? I mean, if it hadn't been for his campaign in 2000 we might not have the war in Iraq.” “Oh, we'd have it” she replied, “Kerry himself has big investments there.” Really? But I thought it was Gore who ran in 2000. Oh well don't confuse things with the dates and facts.
Little did I realize that a few hours later, the news would ablaze with racially inflammatory remarks by none other than Mr. Nader himself who accused the Democratic nominee of “talking white,” not threating the “white power structure,” and “appealing to “white guilt.” So dear reader, here's your column.
By “talking white” (whatever that means) one presumes, Ralph wasn't referring to the cadence of Mr. Obama's speech. Obama, who grew up in Kansas, Hawaii and other points on the globe in all likelihood speaks in tones in keeping with the dialects of the hoods whose corner's he hung out on. Rather to be fair Mr. Nader was making a more substantial point: namely that the Obama campaign wasn't addressing the race and class issues of poverty and discrimination facing Black America.
Ralph apparently hasn't been paying attention to the Democratic candidate's speeches or platform. Be that as it may, what is even more striking is the implicit assumption that in Nader's mind, poverty is a Black thing, as if white poverty, gender poverty, or Latino and Asian poverty didn't exist.
As curious is Mr. Nader's concept of what “Blackness” entails or in what “taking Black consists” a problem that may relate to the degree of his class and spatial remove from the problems of this and other communities of color. Al Sharpton was right yesterday when he said "I don't know how one "talks black or white,” and "There are clearly different styles and speech cadences in every community."
Mr. Nader also clearly doesn't understand the central most basic issue before the Black community today: the need to remove from power the conservative, backward, intolerant, racist minded forces now inhabiting the White House and other corridors of power in Washington. What greater challenge to the “white power structure” could there be? But the question must be asked, does he really care. After all, who are his remarks designed to appeal to? So dear reader, here's your dream come true as today's nightmare, I'm writing about Ralph, consumer advocate, corporate challenger, poor person's advocate, and now in this latest incarnation, race bater. Happy?