Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nader refers to Obama as an "Uncle Tom"

My little brother and his brilliant musician room-mates voted for Nader back in 2000 because he was the only candidate that was openly advocating for the legalization of marijuana, which appealed to their love of all things mind-altering. Some folks tried to blame the Nader voters for the fact that Gore didn't end up being our President. I still think that's scapegoating. I mean how were they supposed to know that things would end up being that close?

I'm also sympathetic with those who are trying to voice their displeasure with our two-party system that makes it impossible for anyone but a Democrat or Republican to become President and I understand that this motivated some people to vote for Nader. That's perfectly legitimate, in my eyes. However, Nader has now gone beyond his sometimes self-aggrandizing ways and shown that he is nothing more than an attention-hog who is even willing to resort to making racist slurs in order to stretch out his fifteen minutes of fame.

Update: Congratulations, Ralph Nader is the winner of our official "Special White Woman" award for the month of November.

By the way, is it just me or has Fox News commentator Sheppard Smith been expressing some surprisingly reasonable views lately?


Kay Olson said...

I love Shep's "Really...." in response to Nader. You can almost smell Nader's bitterness, which is shocking to me since I used to think he was pretty cool.

Yeah, Shep and a lot of other conservative pundits. They've lost their direction, I think. They need a hero to present as righteous and they don't have that anywhere right now. I think without that ideological figure, they fall back on some actual logic and analysis. Pat Robertson on MSNBC has been freaking me out now and then for this whole election with some pretty balanced comments now and then.

And it was absolutely surreal to hear Robertson, Chris Matthews, and another guy sit around after that last presidential debate and discuss how McCain's "health of the woman" airquotes were sexist and offensive.

Anthony Kennerson said...

I guess that Ralph is finally discovering his inner right-wing populist after all those failed attempts at playing a progressive.

Just one more reason why I abandoned him for Cynthia McKinney this year.

And Fixed Noise?? Reasonable?? Yeah, right...probably the aftereffects of the ass-kicking they received Tuesday. Give it a few days and they'll be back to their normal whackadoodle wingnuttery....promise.


Lisa said...

Smith IS a little ant hill of surprises lately.

Blackamazon said...

* hhead tilts*

i aint got nothing

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

My parents always watched Fox when I was younger--I liked Shep then (thought he was dreamy)--and I'm glad to see I wasn't wrong about the dude, even if I have outgrown my parents' conservatism.

Unknown said...

People can't handle truth.

And why did Louissiana vote overwhelmingly for MCCAIN? Maybe because Obama turned pulled out of the Google debate in N.O. that was designed to revitalize the area economically post-Katrina. Mayor Nagin and the Governor extended their invitations to the candidates, and after it was apparent Nader was going to be included, Obama turned his back and walked away and the whole thing fell apart.
Poor Black people be damned.

I lost all respect for Obama right then and there.

Nader's words will become prophetic, as they always are...


dmarks said...

Everyone is reasonable compared to Nader. He's a racist, a liar, and a spoiler.

I've also noticed that most of the time, anymore, when the term "Uncle Tom" is used, it is used inappropriately (not for submissive Blacks) and ends up being just another racial slur.

"I'm also sympathetic with those who are trying to voice their displeasure with our two-party system that makes it impossible for anyone but a Democrat or Republican to become President "

Nader is a prime illustration of why people vote for Democrat or Republican, with only 1% of voters going for someone like Nader. The reason is that Nader and his ideas appeal to a tiny fringe 1% of the population.

" Some folks tried to blame the Nader voters for the fact that Gore didn't end up being our President. I still think that's scapegoating"

It is not just scapegoating. During the 2000 and 2004 elections, Nader was asked about this, and responsed something to the effect that he was playing the spoiler on purpose.

I watched Fox News for the election coverage because they did a better job than the others, especially CBS which did not even bother to come up with a readable font for their vote totals. I have yet to see them go to "wingnuttery".

dmarks said...

@anthony: "I guess that Ralph is finally discovering his inner right-wing populist after all those failed attempts at playing a progressive."

This has been true for a long time. For a while, he and Pat Buchanan were singing the same tune in their opposition to free and fair trade.

bint alshamsa said...


Some people can't handle the truth. However, the fact that many people find his comment disgusting that doesn't mean that Nader is telling the truth. New Orleanians did vote for Obama. It's the folks in the other areas of the state that ensured Louisiana would go for McCain. So much for you theory!

This idolization of politicians is really creepy to me. It defies logic. If I wanted to find a prophet, I'm certain Nader wouldn't be it. I can do much, much better than this self-absorbed attention-hog.

bint alshamsa said...


I do recognize that Nader was purposely playing the spoiler. When I mentioned scapegoating, I was referring to the people who voted for Nader, not the candidate himself.

Anthony Kennerson said...

Not that I actually voted for Obama (though I'm still glad that he kicked McCain's and the GOP's collective asses so completely and throughly), but ducking a debate on New Orleans was hardly the reason why most Louisianians bolted for McCain. Try the usual affinity for right-wing politics amongst Whites here in this state, or the fact that the ethnic cleansing of South Louisiana by Katrina, Rita, and even Gustav this year made the state more Republican and much more conservative.

Either way, Nader was more than likely irrelevant to Louisiana's political shifts,

Now, I did vote for him in 2000 as a protest against Gore-Lieberman and their constant pandering to the Right at that time....but his right-wing populist leanings have really embittered me to him a long time ago. Gloria la Riva (PCS) got my vote in 2004, McKinney got it this year. If i'm going to "waste" my vote, I'm going to do it in favor of a genuine Leftist who supports my principles.

And BTW....Gore actually did win the election of 2000, the Brooks Brothers Rioters, Katherine Harris, and the Supreme Court stole it from him. Likewise did Kerry win, save for Ken Blackwell and Diebold in Ohio. Whatever faults Nader may have, and however the spoiler he may have been, he's not to blame for the Dems snatching defeat in those years.


Unknown said...

Playing the spoiler, eh? I love how hypocritical the Democrats are.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is chaired by Democrats and Republicans and funded by corporations. In 2000, they had Nader escorted off the premises by state police. He could've finished much higher than he did by being in those debates ala Perot. Instead, the Dems kept him suppressed then turned around and called HIM the spoiler.

Then in 2004, they filed 24 lawsuits in 12 weeks and had his name kicked off the ballot in many states, killing his campaign. Or should I say spoiled? 12 Democrats now stand indicted.

Move to 2008 and once again they denied Nader as well as Cynthia McKinney a chance to debate, despite them being on enough states to win the election. The Google debate was formed as an alternative to the corporate debates but we know now what happened there.

The two spoilers are these two parties. People think they are the solution to their problems, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM!!!


Unknown said...

The idolization of politicians is certainly creepy to me too. I mean look at the cult following Obama has. Based on what? Words of "hope" and "change"? Because it certainly wasn't based on his voting record, which people never looked at or ignored.
If they would've looked a little harder and not been swept up by the hype, they would've seen he was more conservative than John McCain.

In fact, on Democracy Now, a liberal show, they were saying his foreign policies are more right than George Bush's. Something I had been saying all along. He even said in an interview that "the only bills I voted for, for the most part, while I was in the Senate were introduced by either Republicans or George Bush."6/10/08

He voted to for the Patriot Act after he said he was going to vote against it. Voted for the FISA spy bill after he said he was going to vote against it. These are Acts that strip away our civil and constitutional liberties. And then this bail-out? His number one contributor was Goldman Sachs, and he is the all-time recipient from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac!
How is he change?!?!?

And finally, his selection of Rahm Emmanuel indicates that the hardline Isreali policy towards Palstine will remain brutally in place (a ratio 300 Palestinian civilian deaths to 1 Isreali.)

Cynthia McKinney would've been a much better President than this guy.

Unknown said...

And, by the way, Nader NEVER referred to him as an "Uncle Tom", if you watch the interview. I swear people twist sh*t up so they can cry racism.

Take it from a Black man.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Alshamsa,

I appreciate your sensitivity to the epithet "Uncle Tom." And I don't doubt that many people were outraged to hear it said in connection to President-Elect Obama on election night. Were I in his shoes, I absolutely would not have used that frame of reference (Uncle Sam vs. Uncle Tom), because it is a racially-charged statement. However, the point he's trying to make is an intelligent and decidedly non-racist one. I heard him to be saying that Obama will have to choose between supporting corporations and supporting working people. If we must view this issue in a racial light, it's clear that Ralph Nader throughout his life has fought on behalf of minorities who are working people, and has strongly challenged corporations, which are of course run mostly by the wealthiest of this country's whites. I supported Obama, worked 40 hrs a week in the past month to raise money for his campaign, and am thrilled that we elected him. However, I have many of the same concerns that Nader voiced here. I find it disheartening that Shep Smith and Fox News receive your praise, when Nader is the one calling for Obama to attend to the needs of those African-Americans (among others) who are living in poverty, poorly educated, disproportionately incarcerated, and ravaged by gun-violence. All Shep Smith and Fox are doing is leaping at an opportunity to be self-righteous, and to bully an already marginalized candidate into a false admission that he made racist remarks. To his credit, Nader did not allow them to do so. He should have been much more careful with what he said, and it's maddening that he allowed his valid point to be ignored by using the phrase Uncle Tom. However, gains for economic/social justice are what constitute a triumph over racism, not alarmist Fox News reporting.

dmarks said...

I'm just glad he appears to be completely irrelevant at this point.

Anonymous said...


Ralph, you are a self-righteous douche. Just fucking apologize already. That is some vicious, disgusting, prejudiced shit.

bint alshamsa said...


I think you might be assuming too much. As far as I know, many of the people who have commented on this thread are actually independents of some sort. Maybe you don't like the "spoiler" label but isn't that a part of what Nader is trying to do? He's attempting to spoil the Democratic and Republican stranglehold on our political system.

I'm sure that any candidate who managed to be included in the debates would receive more votes than they would if they are kept out of it. Personally, I'd like to see a lot of changes made in the system. I haven't seen them (Democrats or Republicans) put up any candidates that I could get really excited about.

As a matter of fact, the idolization of Obama is just as problematic to me as it is when other politicians are the object of devotion. However, the idea that the Obama supporters are a "cult following" is not one that I can get behind. I grew up in an actual cult and I can say with experience that there is a difference between the two. I think it's better to be careful with how we use this word.

Larry, how do you know that people didn't vote for him based on his voting record? The fact is, many people looked at his record and decided that they liked what they saw, for one reason or another. I, for one, looked at his record and, regardless of who I actually voted for, I found him to be less conservative than John McCain. If I was obligated to vote and I could only choose between Obama or McCain, I'd definitely go with Obama. Several of McCain's positions regarding women and people with disabilities were the very antithesis of what I believe.

Palestinian freedom is very important to me and I'm not please with the stated positions of McCain or Obama. I have a lot of respect for the statements that Kucinich has made on behalf of the Palestinian people but he didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming the Democratic nominee. I also think that Cynthia McKinney would have been a much better President than Obama or McCain even though her chances were just as slim.

Larry, if you think that Nader wasn't referring to Obama as an "Uncle Tom" who do you think he was referring to? You being a black man doesn't mean you can decide what is and isn't racist to the rest of us people of color.

bint alshamsa said...

Ryan Pirtle-McVeigh,

I don't believe you can or should separate his point from the words that he repeatedly stated that he purposely used. Even if he didn't initially realize that the statement he was making was racist, he had the chance to take it back when it was pointed out to him how awful it was. However, he made it clear that he simply didn't care about that. Nader is no idiot. He has a wonderful vocabulary. He could have chosen a lot of other words if he was trying to make a non-racist point. I'm going to go ahead and take it his word for it that he meant "Uncle Tom" when he said he meant "Uncle Tom".

I have a few thoughts about the idea that Nader has been fighting on behalf of minorities. I have no sympathy for Nader as a "marginalized candidate" because he obviously has no sympathy for those already marginalized people who recognize how awful it is to refer to a person of color as he did.

By the way, I'm not particularly inclined to give out cookies or gold stars here. I think that everyone has a responsibility to fight on behalf of minorities. The fact that someone does so only shows that they are doing what they should be doing.

Look at it this way: I don't think that people should beat their children with golf clubs and I'd be more than happy to speak out against this behavior. Does that make me worthy of praise? If I decided to start making my daughter eat her dinner off of the bathroom floor, would my willingness to speak out against golf club beating serve to excuse my alternate and less life-threatening form of abuse? I should think not! Do you understand why that is? If I'm abusing my child, it doesn't matter whether I'm using some alternative to a golf club beating. It's all still abuse and that means I'm a part of the same problem that I'm willing to speak out about.

Nader is not helping minorities by contributing to our marginalization. His mentality is a part of the problem. He may think he's an ally to people of color but, as long as he's behaving as he does, he's certainly no ally of mine.

You brought up the subject of self-righteous behavior but the only person I saw engaging in it was Nader. Look at his indignation upon being questioned. Listen to his stubborn refusal to even consider the impact of his words on those people of color who might happen to hear them. That is self-righteousness. I'm not sure why you think he should have been more careful with what he said. Personally, I'm glad he said it. I always appreciate it when people expose their bigotry. It lets me know where they really stand and whose side they are really standing on.

With regards to praise for Shep Smith and Fox News, you'll have to point it out to me. As I already said, I don't give out gold stars to people who are just doing what they are supposed to do. Saying that I'm surprised that someone has behaved reasonably isn't praise. The inference is that Smith is not someone whose views I'd be inclined to give much credence to, given the fact that he is on Fox News. I'm not willing to praise Smith just yet. As my grandmother used to say, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day".

bint alshamsa said...

I forgot to say this earlier, but I'm happy to see comments from everyone here, especially the first-timers (Ryan & Larry). I hope y'all come back again. You're welcome to comment here anytime.

dmarks said...

I don't think McKinney is very good when she blames her election defeats on "The Jews".

Anthony Kennerson said...

Now...I will give Nader some benefit of the doubt in that I don't really think that he was trying to be deliberately racist when he ran this "Uncle Tom of the corporations" smack. He may on occasion pander to right-wingers when he busts moderate- to liberal Dems, but he's never seemed to be a dyed-in-the-wool racist by any means.

This is more two parts foot-in-mouth disease combined with one part really bad timing and one part Fixed Noise venue.

And no...just because Shep Smith actually got a brain cell loose from the Ailes-BillO-Hannity symbiont and said something that actually makes sense doesn't mean that he can be pardoned for all the rest of the time he shills for Fixed Noise. Only being right twice a day still makes you wrong the other 24:59:58. 1% right still makes you pretty damn wrong.


dmarks said...

@bint: "Maybe you don't like the "spoiler" label but isn't that a part of what Nader is trying to do? He's attempting to spoil the Democratic and Republican stranglehold on our political system."

I don't think he's doing anything so noble. He's just abusing the system for a personal glory trip, to see how much damage he can do. If he really wanted to spoil the stranglehold, he would campaign to win interest the majority of the American people, instead of 1% or so.

Perot had the right idea (before he wigged out): try to represent the people, not a tiny fringe interest. The Libertarians have the same Nader does. You just won't be popular unless you back popular ideas.

Anthony Kennerson said...

And yeah, I'd much rather see Cynthia McKinney with a genuinely progressive-dominated Congress in charge...but you gotta sometimes dance with the partners you have, not the ones you'd wish you'd have. I'll cuss and fuss along with everyone else if Obama continues this trend towards pandering to the center-right...but still, even then he's miles and leaps beyond what we have suffered with the past 8 years...let alone the past 30 years.

Bad move, Ralph. Really BAD move.


dmarks said...

Is McKinney still so antisemitic? The thing with blaming "the jews" for everything is something Neo-Nazi types do.

Unknown said...

I'm glad you can leave readers' posts and not delete them like other blogs do. That does show an open-mindedness on your part ;)

Firstly, Nader was not trying to play spoiler in 2000. A Democratic Harvard professor looked at all the data re: Nader's campaign in a comprehensive data and found this:

"Contrary to Democrats’ complaints, Nader was not intentionally trying to throw the election. A spoiler strategy would have caused him to focus disproportionately on the most competitive states and markets with the hopes of being a keyplayer in the outcome. There is no evidence that his appearances responded to closeness. He did, apparently, pursue voter support, however, in a quest to receive 5% of the popular vote."

5% would've gotten him federally matching funds for the 2004 elecion.

Unknown said...

Here's Ralph clarifying his positions on Obama in an interview couple days later:

"It doesn’t matter that he sides with destruction of the Palestinians, and sides with the embargo. It doesn’t matter that he turns his back on 100 million people and won’t even campaign in minority areas. It doesn’t matter than he wants a bigger military budget, and an imperial foreign policy supporting various adventures of the Bush administration. It doesn’t matter that he’s for the death penalty ,which is targeted at minorities. But if you say one thing that isn’t PC, you get their attention. I tell college audiences, a gender, racial or ethnic slur gets you upset, reality doesn’t get you upset.

Can Obama speak truth to the white power structure? There’s every indication he doesn’t want to. For example, in February he stiffed the State of the Black Union annual meeting in New Orleans. He’s a very accommodating personality."

bint alshamsa said...


Those comments only confirm what I'm saying. Clearly Nader has no interest in the views of ethnic minorities. If he wasn't so self-absorbed, he might notice the fact that people of color have been speaking out on these issues for many, many years. The fact that some us have absolutely no desire to ally ourselves with him doesn't mean that we aren't working on the same problems he claims to care about. The difference is, unlike him, I (and those who truly are allies to people of color) don't believe in contributing to the marginalization of other minorities in order to try and make people pay attention to me.

Furthermore, this complaint about "PC" language is the same one that bigots have been making for years. One of my favorite bloggers has explained it so much better than I ever could.

The phrase "politically correct" can be used in two distinct ways: either with its original literal meaning, or with the mocking sarcasm that's common these days. I'll get to the former in a moment, but I'll begin with the latter. As it's commonly used, "PC" is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn't to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated. Thus, the Herculean effort required to call me "Asian American" rather than "chink" is seen as a concession to "the PC police", an unsettling infringement on the free-wheeling conversation of, I suppose, "non-chinks". Having to refer to black folks as "African Americans" rather than various historically-prevalent epithets surely strikes some red-blooded blue-balled white-men as a form of cultural oppression. Having to refer to "women" rather than "bitches" lays a violent buzzkill on the bar-room banter of men preoccupied with beating on their chests and off other body parts.

Obviously these examples fall on the simplistic side of things, but I think they illustrate the shaky philosophical foundation of today's usage. Underlying every complaint of "PC" is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry. It's no coincidence that "PC"-snivelers are for the most part white men who are essentially saying, "Who the hell do these marginalized groups think they are to tell me how I should or shouldn't portray them? I'm not going to say 'mentally challenged' when it's my right to say 'retard', goshdarnit there's only so much abuse I'll take!"

-The Greatest Cliché: The Unexamined Propaganda of "Political Correctness"

See, Nader doesn't get to decide which kinds of bigotry should bother people. He may think what he spewed isn't all that bad because other people do things that are worse in his eyes. What he doesn't take into account is that there is nothing separating him from those he's supposedly against. He is one of them.

The black people in this country never appointed Nader to speak on our behalf. We are perfectly capable of making it clear how we feel about other black people and their behavior. We don't need some completely clueless jerk telling us that we should just ignore how he is colluding with the "white power structure". If Nader is interested in reality, perhaps he should give himself good dose of it before he starts telling everyone else what they need.

By the way, I've only deleted three or four comments in the years that I've had this blog. I think that refutations are better than deletions, most of the time. However, I do believe in keeping this a safe space for marginalized people. That means, if a comment contains threats or advocates violence, there is a good chance that I won't post it here. Other than that, I say

Let the exchange of ideas continue!

bint alshamsa said...


Whoaaa!! I had never heard about that. Yikes!

dmarks said...

@larry: "5% would've gotten him federally matching funds for the 2004 election."

Which is an entirely different, but big problem. Also consider that Pat Buchanan did the same thing. This makes a big case for getting of public (taxpayer) funding of elections altogether. Not only is it a bad idea for government to short-circuit democracy by interfering in choosing candidates this way, why should anyone be forced to give money to support the campaigns of the likes of Pat Buchanan?

Anonymous said...

"If he really wanted to spoil the stranglehold, he would campaign to win interest the majority of the American people, instead of 1% or so."

What? You think it's possible to turn people to truth in one or 10 campaigns?
are you asking for (in reality the only way such a person could become elected)
Disingenuous, calculating, politically correct "leaders" that obviously have little backbone? You think these people will suddenly STOP playing the game/s and turn into a superhero for "their people" once elected?
What happens when the rest of the country finds out they were straight bamboozled?
You turn out more con-artists? Eventually you can't trust anyone and you essentially vote blind ..if at all. Give this enough time and people, I believe, will create for themselves the "best" chance at voting in someone who will do "good" instead of "evil"
Probably a 50-50 coin flip. That at least seems a straightforward win or lose. Lose too often just change your vote and hope.
Sounds familiar.
IMO, you fight for your 1%, turn it into 2% and grow it to 5% in hopes of it one day gaining enough approval that people begin trying to see the light you believe you're spreading.

Nader racist? I doubt it but who knows for sure cept for close friends and family. There are numerous people around you each day that seem to be accepting but are only "accepting" of whatever is popular. It's faddish to be moral. This is not character but another game we are playing collectively to see who can win the most empty prizes.
Some "martyrs" lose the will to keep playing and murder some dude, shoot crack or get pregnant in hopes of showing the world how fake they are
What other purpose do these "negative" behaviors serve? You cannot have rebellion if there isn't anything to rebel against. I doubt that people rebel against happiness.

I think Nader is going about his own little rebellion. I happen to think he's mostly right on the money. Not doing it properly? If you ask me what is seen as proper hasn't worked all that well so why keep playing by the same tired rules? It may work out the same in the end but it will probably take much longer doing it this "proper" way. Honestly, I believe the "proper" way would eventually lead/morph into "Naders" way. Confrontation and Competition

Anthony Kennerson said...

Actually, it wasn't Cynthia McKinney herself but her dad, who was a Georgia state senator, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks (such as, blaming "the Jews" for her defeats in Congress).

But...if you still want to use that to dismiss her activism as a proven and principled progressive, dmarks..well, that's your perogative.


Unknown said...

Black organizers have bringing Nader to the hood for years because he accurately voices their concerns.

We'll see what you say in two years. By the way anyone who actually REALLY looked at Obama's record knows full well the fruit doesn't match the tree.

If you can do one last thing, read Matt Gonzalez's article "The Obama Craze: Count Me Out". (Gonzalez was Nader's running mate)Originally he was predisposed to Obama, 'til he checked out the record.

Check out the You Tube vid Ralph Nader: "The People's Champion" and you will see in proof everything I have told you here and above.

The 2-party doupoly doesn't care about the poor or minorities. Your saying McKinney didn't have a snowball's chance in hell underlines my point. By freezing her, and other voices from the debates, the parties make sure NO ONE other than them will have a chance at winning.

And I agree with you about Kucinich. Of course, in true nature, the machine shut him down like they did to Howard Dean in 2004. After holding up his Constitution book and asking who was down with him to impeach Bush during the primary debate, Obama and Clinton and co. just let him hang. He was frozen out the debates after that for the most part.

You can see this first hand on the You Tube vid Saving America in 10 Minutes.

And look at what the Reps did to Ron Paul.
Don't you see that the two-party duopoly will shut down anyone in favor the corporate status quo

And you should refrain from name-calling yourself if you're going to rebuke others for name-calling, or perceived name-calling.


dmarks said...

McKinney pointedly refused to denounce or deny her father's statements, as I recall. Which meant that she stood by them.

She's not very principled (kind of corrupt) and she is "proven" as a kind of unintelligent person who buys into conspiracy theories, and she has no problem closely aligning herself with groups out to exterminate Jews. Also, no principled person would think that she has a special right to violate security entering the Capitol like she did in that famous incident.

@anonymous: "What? You think it's possible to turn people to truth in one or 10 campaigns?"

If just about everyone thinks the person campaining like this is lying, maybe the truth problem likes with the campaigner (Nader, McKinney, etc)

@anonymous: "Nader racist? I doubt it but who knows for sure cept for close friends and family."

Either Nader is racist, or he is lying. He has made some blatantly racist statements. Are they how he actually feels? Or is he having fun making himself into a fake racist?

@anonymous: "I believe the "proper" way would eventually lead/morph into "Naders" way. Confrontation and Competition"

Nader's way is to espouse very extreme views and to describe situations in a very unreal manner and to propose very destructive solutions. As a result, he wins the hearts of 2% or less of the populace. That's not a successful way to go about things.

ben said...

The most disturbing thing about this incident is not Nader's purposely troubling use of the racially charged term.

It's the way certain politically motivated Obama and McCain supporters are so quick to denounce someone who's been one of the nation's strongest advocates for political involvement and good government.

I can only imagine that this is motivated by a fear of another Bush-Gore electoral flip, or disgust at the use of a racially charged term. I accept those explanations at face value. Such strong emotions as fear and disgust are not necessarily subject to logical explanation, despite their sensible or non-sensible genesis.

That is not to say that accept the explanations for these statements against Nader. If there is an explanation for making him a parriah, or otherwise isolating him from the political discussion, it is that experienced, honest activists can be a source of unrest for cynical citizens and therefore a kind of threat to people in positions of power.

Nader is an anti-racist and his comments against Obama are clearly based on the president-elect's support of the racist war on drugs, as well as the wars in the middle east which employee mostly the poor and disproportionately people of color, and other failures to support the black community.

Any notion that his use of the term Uncle Tom was not meant as a jab is ignoring the fact that Nader was trying to draw attention to the awful irony of Obama's commitment to details in plans serving powerful corporations, and nothing like that in terms of help for the impoverished and working poor in this country. Plans clearly spelled out like letting the private health insurance companies continue to operate when the nation would otherwise be on the verge of a far more efficient and humane nationalized insurance system like in Canada, England, and Australia. Like an unwinnable war on terror stepped up in Afghanistan and maintained in Iraq.

bint alshamsa said...


This really doesn't have anything to do with Obama or McCain. This is all about Nader's comment. I am not a supporter of ANY candidate, so that certainly isn't what's motivating me. What I'm saying has nothing to do with fear (Nader is politically impotent at this point) and everything to do with whether someone really is my ally. If someone someone chooses to support the hierarchy that marginalizes me, then, by definition, they are not being my ally. It's that simple.

You provided an explanation for why some might want to isolate him from political discussions but that certainly isn't the only explanation. I definitely believe that Nader is experienced honestly believes what he says. However, that doesn't make what he says correct nor does it mean he is incapable of engaging in racist behavior.

You can say that Nader is an anti-racist but that doesn't make it so. His actions prove what he is and his original "Uncle Tom" comment certainly wasn't anti-racist. His attitude when confronted definitely wasn't anti-racist. The comments he went on to make weren't anti-racist, either. It doesn't matter why Nader felt that it was okay to refer to Obama as an "Uncle Tom". It was still racist. It was still siding with the oppressor class, the class that refuses to allow people of color to be self-defining.

See, you can complain about the war on drugs, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can say that Obama doesn't support the black community in other ways. However, that doesn't make you an anti-racist and it doesn't make you an ally to people of color. If you criticize someone for stepping on my foot and then you hit me in the nose, you are no different from the person you criticized.

Any notion that his use of the term Uncle Tom was not meant as a jab is ignoring the fact that Nader was trying to draw attention to the awful irony of Obama's commitment to details in plans serving powerful corporations, and nothing like that in terms of help for the impoverished and working poor in this country.

Wrong. I'm not ignoring what Nader was trying to do. It doesn't matter what he was trying to do. It was still racist. If you punch me in the nose and then say that you were doing it to teach me a lesson, does that make what you did acceptable? Of course not! Even if someone wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt at first, choosing to believe that maybe Nader didn't realize what he said was racist, when it was explained to him, he repeated it over and over again. He was even asked if he regretted saying it that way and the man said no.

Nader has chosen to ignore what many people of color have said about this. That's not being our ally. He has chosen to do and say whatever seems right to him with no regard for how it affects those who have these racist slurs applied to them. The point that you say he was trying to make could have been stated in a myriad of ways. However, that's not what Nader wanted to do. He wanted to use the racist slur and he did, over and over again. Someone who is my ally won't do that. Whether he chooses to acknowledge or not, even if he doesn't realize it, the truth is that he was really reaffirming his place in the hierarchy.

This Obama election is bringing out the worst in many people. People of color knew that there would be some backlash if it started to seem as if Obama might actually win the election, but I don't think any of us knew exactly what form it would take and who it would come from. We have those who are blaming African-American Obama supporters for the prohibition of same-sex marriage in California. We had Palin inciting violence against us at political rallies. We had McCain re-inforcing racist stereotypes at his forums. Nader is no different. He made his bed and now he has to lie in it.

ben said...

I dismissed the notion that Nader might not be an ally to anti-racist activists, so hear is an explanation, directly to that point.

Someone being your ally in what I presume is the fight against oppression is exactly what Obama would be, if he chooses to speak and take action about it.

If someone *is* black, it doesn't mean they are working against institutional racism. If someone calls a black man by a name with racial implications, it does not mean that the name-caller is supporting oppression based on race. Both are examples of flawed logic. A term is not racist by nature, but only by it's use. If that use is to point out the possibility of betrayal by a major political figure, I think it's a warning call, and certainly not something worthy of the easy dismissal you offer.

bint alshamsa said...


You're still presuming far too much and, in doing so, your conclusions are erroneous. Speaking and taking action against oppression does not make someone my ally. If someone attempts to define me and my interests instead of actually respecting my right to be self-defining, then they are not my ally. Nader doesn't get to decide who is my ally and what someone must do to be my ally nor do you.

The fact that someone is black doesn't guarantee that someone is working against institutional racism. Likewise, the fact that someone claims to be an ally to people of color doesn't mean they are actually working against institutional racism. That's why there's no reason why we should assume that Obama OR Nader are allies to people of color.

If someone calls a black man by a name with racial implications, it does not mean that the name-caller is supporting oppression based on race.

No one stated otherwise, so how is this relevant? What makes it true that Nader chose to side with the oppressor classes in this situation is the fact that he is engaging in the same behavior they do.

A term is not racist by nature, but only by it's use. If that use is to point out the possibility of betrayal by a major political figure, I think it's a warning call, and certainly not something worthy of the easy dismissal you offer.

You are wrong again. Words are not necessarily racist. However some terms certainly are. "Uncle Tom" is a racist term, whether you want to face it or not. Why Nader used a racist term might matter to you but his reasons do not matter to me. It was still inappropriate and racist. He could have made a warning call in any manner of ways and, because of that, I don't think it's worthy of "the easy dismissal". That's the point I've been making from the very beginning. We shouldn't just dismiss what Nader said. We should pay attention to it because the fact that he would say such a thing shows that he is a part of the oppressor class that marginalizes people of color and that is certainly not insignificant.

ben said...

Bint, you've ventured into the dismissive in your responses here, and now the self-righteous. I appreciate the opportunity to haved shared my views on your forum.

bint alshamsa said...

You're always welcome to comment here, TeacherGuy. I enjoyed the exchange.

Art Crass said...

A) He NEVER "referred" to Obama as an Uncle Tom. He asked the QUESTION of, essentially, whether Obama would stand up for the people OR be an "Uncle Tom", meaning, would he or would he not dismiss the pressing issues that effect millions of African-Americans in this country.

B) It isn't a racist slur. He didn't call obama the n-word, or "boy", or some other term to demean him simply for being black. Its like people WANT to be offended by this. All and Uncle Tom happens to be is a black person who sells out the interests of their community for the power structure that oppresses their needs. Asking whether or not Obama will do this is a legitimate question, not a racial slur. I can't even percieve how this is "racist".

bint alshamsa said...

Hello Art Crass,

Use of the term "Uncle Tom" has racist implications whether someone wants it to or not. When was the last time you heard Nader pose the same sort of "question" about a politician who was not black? I certainly haven't heard him use it before. Have you? As I said before, Nader went on to compound his original statement and provide further evidence that he is not an ally to anti-racists. The "n-word" and "boy" and "Uncle Tom" all fall into the same category as far as I'm concerned. They are all labels that are used to deny people of color the ability to be self-defining. It's just like saying that calling a woman a b*tch isn't all that bad because it's not like you called her a c*nt or a wh*re. That dog won't hunt with me.

Unknown said...

As a Minority who supports Ralph Nader and read his books and heard his speeches, he is definitely NOT racist. . . Obama is a huge disappointment---

* continued wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (with possibility of escalated troop surge)

* disastrous health care policy (refuses to meet with single payer advocates or universal health care advocates)

* GM disaster--no transparency

* Bail-out money to AIG, Goldman Sachs (orchestrated by Tim Geitner and Hank Pausion) and Wall Street firms to the tune of several Trillion dollars (with a T).

* Continued operation of Guantanimo Bay and failure to repeal Patriot Act

The list goes on. . .

All these policies hurt Americans--this is not change.

Ralph Nader turned out to right. . . once again