Wednesday, June 25, 2008
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader said. "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? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."The real interesting thing about Obama running is that just by being himself, he has managed to draw out into the light the different strains of racism that has always implicitly hovered around the Democratic Party and the Left in general.
The Obama campaign had only a brief response, calling the remarks disappointing.
Asked to clarify whether he thought Obama does try to "talk white," Nader said: "Of course.
"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law," Nader said. "Haven't heard a thing."
During the primary, Hillary and Bill Clinton demonstrated how, when backed into a corner, white Democrats will happily use racial symbols and rhetoric as wedges -- dividing one section of the party with another. Now, Nader demonstrates the underlying paternalistic racism that is part of the far-left world-view: "The number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas..." (Emphasis added.)
Nader presumes to tell a black person what that black person is supposed to be talking about.
The "plight of the poor" MUST be addressed.
If such a candidate isn't doing that, he is "talking white."
Nader is, in so many words, saying that Obama "doesn't know his place" as a black candidate. Black candidates have certain issues that they must focus on before any others.
The Obama campaign is staying away from this. But, given how he last week took out a preemptive strike against Republicans -- suggesting criticism of his youth or inexperience was actually code for race -- let's hear him call out this repugnant left-wing racism.
It would also be interesting to hear from other Democrats about these comments. Or how about Michael Moore -- who voted for Nader in 2000, a decision he now says he regrets. It would be nice for those on the left to look in the mirror and confront their inner racist.
UPDATE: Al Sharpton writes Nader:
As you know I've always respected your views. I hosted you at National Action Network's House of Justice in 2000, and as you recall I recently had you on my syndicated national radio show. However I find your reported comments on Senator Obama most troubling. We should not have a divisive political season when most Americans are trying to solve our racial divide, not reinforce them, we can't afford to play on old wounds for political gain. I don't know how one "talks black or white." There are clearly different styles and speech cadences in every community. Those of us that are black have always appreciated our diversity of gifts, talent, and style for your information. Likewise, as this campaign has unfolded Senator Obama has discussed the issues you have raised in a very detailed and extensive manner that many are convinced will help all Americans, including black Americans, which is why I have found most civil rights leaders black and white are supporting his campaign on the its merits. We are not uncritical and unthinking people that just go along without concern for the issues which we have given our lives. We also do not want to see the kind of rhetoric pollute the political discussion that will lead to a repeat of 2000 and return the country to the polarization and hot rhetoric of the past. Your comments are beneath the respect many have had for you and more importantly below the level of political discourse we need at this point in history. Those of us that deal with real people in real pain in the black community every day need real answers and real change and that is more important than the volume or style in which it is presented.
Yours in Progress,
Reverend Al Sharpton
President of National Action Network