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So what, exactly, are you saying, Ralph?

So, apparently Ralph Nader is willing to explain – but not apologize for – remarks made in a recent interview. The original remarks are summarized here:

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Mr. Nader, who is running for president, said of Mr. Obama, “There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. 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?”

I don't really see the corelation between addressing poverty issues in the United States and “talking white.” Is Nader making a stereotyping remark about dialect or speech?

Reading the online account of the actual interview, I found the following statement particularly curious: 

“He wants to show that he is not a threatening . . . another politically threatening African-American politician,” Nader said. “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, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up.”

Comments like these just perpetuate the perception of a “divide” IMO.

Julien / ee

***

NOTE FROM PAM: Ralph Nader has a screw loose (but I think most of us already knew the consumer advocate's credibility is questionable these days).  This “acting white” BS was hurled at Obama early on in the campaign, first by blacks who felt that because the Illinois senator wasn't a product of the civil rights movement, that he didn't have “race cred.” I wrote this back when Obama officially declared his candidacy:

I think there is a discomfort with Obama by these naysayers of color that is questioning something else — Obama's fealty to those in the black community who have made a career out of a particular framing of cultural and political “blackness.”

Apparently, to some black folks, you aren't “kin” if you don't:
* have at least one biological parent who is black (and now the new caveat, a parent who is a descendant of slaves)
* act culturally black enough (the definition of which is ludicrously subjective)
* you don't have direct ties to the civil rights movement hierarchy that is entrenched in the Democratic Party.

Obviously a lot of black leaders got over their reticence to support Obama, so it's pretty mind-boggling to read Ralph Nader's diatribe – one that assumes there is a monolithic black community that apparently only speaks in Ebonics.

It's really ironic, since Nader is Lebanese-American, making him the first Arab American presidential candidate in our country's history. By his logic, is he trying to skate by and coddle white America by not embracing the ethnic and religious “identity” (he's Maronite Catholic) that makes him groundbreaking? It's absurd.

It's time for hypocrite Nader to hang it up.

Related:
* Obama and race: our country is so confused 

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Julien Sharp

Julien Sharp

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