Post-pandering politics, perhaps?

RE: “Nader’s Greens Invisible to Blacks


Your article makes a point that’s well taken; as a Green who has always been seriously concerned about civil rights, women’s rights, and gay/lesbian rights, I, too, have wanted to hear more from the man who has the most substantive positions on those issues — which Nader has.

Nader has been critiqued for not making appeals to minorities, to gays and lesbians, and to women, but such criticism often proves to be either superficial or dubious.

What I have come to realize is that in his endearing idealism, Nader actually has a moral rationale for not politically exploiting African Americans and other minorities.

Nader’s campaign is a sincere and substantive one that appeals to people and their lives, not to stereotypes and their political currency. This might be a political fault, but it might also be a sign of a new kind of politics — a politics for citizens, not for self-serving power, pundits, or politicians.

Benjamin Lanier-Nabors


RE: “Nader’s Greens Invisible to Blacks


The charge that Nader should be speaking more directly to minority voters is true, and some effort is being made to do so from within the party and at the local levels. But Nader has never tried to speak specifically to any ethnic group as such. Perhaps this is an oversight or something along the line of his “gonadal politics” comment in ’96. He just does not want to be lead down the separatist path.

The Green Party, and Ralph Nader himself, stands for diversity. Its members are out on the streets every day and its platform, as your article points out, is well-grounded and should appeal to all Americans in their diversity, but reaching out to specific groups has never worked for us.

There are many people from many ethnic, cultural and political background who are Green but they have come to us on their own. In the beginning we tried to reach out but our message fell on deaf ears for the same reasons mentioned in your article.

Except for our program and our belief in its promise, the Green Party has little to offer in practical terms. Too many people feel it is better to sit under the Democrats’ table and hope for the occasional crumb to fall their way than to act in their own long-term self-interest, which would be to join — or even lead — a truly progressive alternative party movement.

Tom Stafford
Green Party of Ventura Co., Calif.


Oil slick any way you put it

RE: “Shell Ads on the MoJo Wire


I just logged on to MJ and was stunned to see an ad from the Shell Corp. I make a conscious effort not to buy their gas, with an occasional slip, but I don’t think I can condone MJ using valuable space for their ads.

Regardless of the rhetoric these big companies put out about their responsibility towards the environment, they have exploited and abused indigenous peoples and the Earth and continue to do so. I would not like to think you are carrying their ad for a monetary boost.

When you can present concrete proof that Shell has and is turning over a new leaf then I would not be upset by your choice to use their banner ad on Mother Jones. P> Janice T. Carlson


RE: “Shell Ads on the MoJo Wire


I don’t agree with the running of the Shell ads. Most of your readers are savvy enough to know what oil companies are about. By not running the ads, we certainly are not being shielded from alternative viewpoints — oil companies promote themselves in a positive light all the time.

Since much of the media is positive on oil companies already, reading your stories digging up little-known information on the oil companies is what people need. The only time I would accept ads from oil companies is if it was specifically promoting renewable technologies that they produce and sell.

I also value free expression, but I would not allow my magazine’s Web site to promote oil company agendas.

Brian Pine


Minorities seek out their candidate

RE: “Nader’s Greens Invisible to Blacks


I agree with your article, but I also think that as minorities, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. We should not sit around waiting to be wooed by the political candidates. Nader is an ideal candidate for the presidency and we should vote for him because he has our interests at heart, not because he shows up at events or makes pretty speeches.

I don’t care about electing a flashy, likable, charismatic president. I just want an intelligent, effective, capable person in office. That is why I, a black, 18- year-old woman, will vote for Nader.

Kristen Heaberlin
Los Angeles, Calif.


Straights can be pro-gay, too

RE: “Vote for Me, I’m Gay


In the more liberal urban centers (one of which I live right by — New York), choosing who to endorse and vote for is definitely a more complicated issue.

What these PACs must realize is that there are more issues than just gay civil rights. The perception of the gay community in these centers is evolving, and this shows in the way the community communicates. In these centers, when you have a number of candidates who support gay issues, the decision will come down to who will best represent and serve the people on the other issues the community is concerned with — such as crime, public housing, welfare, etc.

If a straight candidate who supports gay rights has better stances on the other issues than the gay candidate, then why vote for the gay candidate? Just because s/he is gay doesn’t trump all else, as this PAC seems to think.

This PAC must realize that in those situations, that the better candidate (or, in some cases, both) must be endorsed. Look at HRC in Vermont; there is a gay candidate running for Senate as well as a Republican incumbent who is gay-friendly. HRC has endorsed both candidates because they are both good on gay rights. It’s the other issues here that will decide the election.

David Herman


Singing support for inmates

RE: “Dead Man Warbling


My compliments for this insightful article. It is so easy to empathize with the plight of prisoners on Death Row and come out against the death penalty, but few people are aware of the less sensationalized two million prisoners serving the most draconian sentences anywhere in the free world with virtually no hope of redemption.

For 14 years I taught in the California Department of Corrections and watched the system decline from one that at least pretended to make some efforts of rehabilitation, to one that rarely even pays lip service to it any more. The college programs have been cut and there are fewer teachers than ever in the department, although the prisoner population has grown. In the US, we now have more people incarcerated than Russia and China.

Our penal system has become big business. Private corporations are clamoring to open more prisons, and state-run prisons are big business. They profit the small towns which too often play host to the new prisons. They profit correctional personnel (the California prison guards’ union gave an unprecedented $2 million to help get the current governor elected). And they line the pockets of the businesses who profit from this warehousing of human misery — like MCI, which charges families of inmates up to five times the amount for a call as the average consumer. Meanwhile, we spend more on prisons than on colleges, and our secondary and elementary schools are virtually crumbling around us. Isn’t is time to get smart on crime instead of tough on crime?

Manuela Thiess
Monterey, Calif.


More green ads please

RE: “Shell Ads on the MoJo Wire


Freedom of speech is often used by the perpetrators of the most offensive violations of human and environmental rights as a way to continue the very practices that muddle the American mind about the true state of international affairs and corporate activities.

Those who really need freedom of speech are those who are consistently denied that rights — activists, farmers, independent scientists, Native Americans, youth, etc.

I vehemently oppose your display of Shell advertisements. Why don’t you use your support of free speech to give voice to all those whose voices are not heard by the mainstream press? You have the right and the ability to do so, and yet you choose to feed us the same corporate lies that we can get from mainstream media. You say that you want to provide daily news and resources for the skeptical citizen, but by including Shell advertisements you effectively tell that skeptical citizen that corporate America is all about conservation and the well-being of the planet.

Including alternative advertisements such as those from Green Marketplace tell the skeptical citizen that viable alternatives to corporate hegemony do exist; it gives people hope that we can question and be critical while engaging in positive life practices.

Sarada Tangirala


Ralph’s personality cult

RE: “Nader’s Greens Invisible to Blacks


This article raises a very good question, one that may reveal what some of us skeptics have felt all along: Nader’s campaign strategy functions as a personality cult, much as does George W’s. Nader is appealing to educated white kids in college (perhaps the most ideal-driven of life phases) as well as baby boomers who are nostalgic for the 1960s.

He has no real plan of action as a politician, just a really good hook that plays on the specific emotional needs of this demographic: Do what you believe is right, at any cost; uphold your ideals. It’s the affluent white identity crisis and sense of political/spiritual bankruptcy that’s fueling Nader’s popularity at the moment.

Certain folk are ripe for demonizing Al Gore, who is being painted as a corporate pawn and dullard, a common bureaucrat with no vision. Ralph, on the other hand, presents himself as someone you can trust. Another white man who wants you to trust him. It may work for the “Dawson’s Creek” set, but what black or Latino voter is going to buy that one?

Joy Garnett



Jesse Jackson Jr. is afraid that, should minority voters indulge in the “luxury” of voting for Nader, Bush will be elected, bringing a torrent of horrors upon themselves? What’s the alternative? Gore?

Gore has been part of an administration that claims among its achievements ending welfare “as we know it,” stepping up the war on drugs, and a booming economy that has made the top 5 percent a lot richer, leaving the rest of us no better off.

Why aren’t more minority community leaders endorsing Nader? It is not Nader’s fault: On every issue he speaks to the minority and disadvantaged communities. Why aren’t they listening? Maybe it’s because these “leaders” don’t want to lose the perks that go with being hacks for the Democratic party. Their communities might suffer, but they do very well for themselves with the current arrangement.

Lloyd Gaarder
Sioux Falls, S.D.



I admire Mr. Nader because he doesn’t pander to race like the other candidates. His positions on universal health care and workers’ rights would benefit all Americans, especially the poor. Economic equality would go a long way in combating the social injustices minorities and others face in this country.

Roberto J. Cardenas
Austin, Texas



Why haven’t the communities of color come out in support of the Nader/LaDuke ticket? I can’t do more than guess. As the story said, “Black and Latino consumers and workers have benefited immensely from the campaigns that Nader has waged against environmental and corporate abuses and the protective legislation that resulted from those battles.”

Maybe it is a matter of trust. Maybe it is the lack of coverage by the corporate press. Is it the campaign’s fault that Nader/LaDuke have failed to gain their support, is it the communities themselves, is it a conspiracy of the Democratic and Republican parties?

I do know is that it does little good to point fingers at two people who are struggling to do what needs to be done. Those who believe that Nader and LaDuke stand for the right things, and will only act in the best interest of all peoples, need to be standing next to them in support.

I would also like to remind you that the initial reason for the campaign was to build a viable third party. Not only were the Nader/LaDuke campaign workers running the campaign the best they could with little political experience, they were building the structure of a national party.

In Washington State the party has been successful in developing affiliate organizations in every county. Only now is the state beginning to reach out, not simply to bring people into the organization, but more importantly to understand the issues of different communities and to support their actions. Unity will not occur this fall, but it may someday soon.

Sylvia Smith
Olympia Wash.

Make the government pay

RE: “Poisoned Legacy


The government should be fully responsible for the costs of testing each object in question and for detoxification costs, if this is even possible to achieve. To not do this is another slap in the face to tribal heritage and to all Indian peoples left.

Jeanie Glass
Sarasota, Fla.