Ralph Nader on Civil Rights

Truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans

Q: Winona LaDuke has called for a truth and reconciliation commission to probe crimes against Native Americans.

A: It’s common sense. There have been crimes against Native Americans.

Q: But why a truth and reconciliation commission?

A: Instead of picking at one case at a time, it’s to see the patterns of discrimination. And she thinks there should be a major task force to raise this issue in a big way and ask, How can we improve justice for first Native Americans?

Source: CNN: “Burden of Proof” Aug 9, 2000

Disagrees with ACLU on spending money as free speech

Q: Your position [on campaign spending] is at odds with the ACLU, which does see money as free speech.
A: I think the ACLU has gone off into orbit. They seem to spend a lot of time defending the constitutional rights of tobacco industry advertising, which is a very dubious constitutional position to take in the first place. Commercial speech should not be treated the same as non-commercial speech under the constitution. I disagree with them on the campaign finance issue.
Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

Supports “impenetrable protection of privacy”

Q: You’ve been criticized for failing to disclose your contributions in not releasing your tax returns. Why haven’t you done that?

A: First of all, tax returns are a matter of privacy between individuals and the U.S. Treasury. They are inappropriate vehicles for political candidates to disclose and breach the -- what I think should be -- impenetrable protection of privacy. For 30 years I have supported the right of privacy -- whether for medical data, credit information, tax information -- and I want to practice what I preach.

Now the only appropriate vehicle for disclosure in my judgment for political candidates is the Government Ethics Act. It has a $ 5,000 threshold. I will spend less than $ 5,000 and not become a candidate under the definition of the Government Ethics Act.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Interview, p. 3/Z1 Oct 13, 1996

Differentiate discriminatory justice from indiscriminate

There are two categories of injustice in any society: One is discriminatory injustice, against race, color, creed, gender, etc. The other is indiscriminate injustice.

My work deals with indiscriminate injustice. When you work in indiscriminate injustice, everybody wants their defective car to be recalled and fixed. You tend to appeal to a broader spectrum of the American people.

I think we need in our country to put more attention on indiscriminate injustice, because while it is important to focus on discriminatory injustice, if you just do that, you tend to divide the country. So you need a force that not only abolishes gross, discriminatory injustice, but unifies the country against indiscriminate injustice. Anybody can join bank groups, consumer groups. They’re voluntarily funded. It doesn’t cost the taxpayer anything. Everybody is a customer of banks, directly or indirectly. Everybody is a consumer of insurance, electricity, telephone, gas, pollution.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Interview, p. 3/Z1 Oct 13, 1996

Political discourse narrows when media serves Mammon

Q: [Recent news discussed] the formidable machine to promote the conservative agenda in Washington. What kind of impact is this having on the discourse and politics?

A: Actually, the range of permissible political discourse is far narrower here than it is in Russia at the present time. For example, when there’s a corporate crime epidemic going on, [American news shows] never have any programs. They never even talk about it. You’ve got a corporatization and of almost all of American life. The university research agendas are being set more and more by these corporate contracts and moonlighting consultantships with professors. You know throughout history what happens to a society that only serves mammon, that only serves commercialism? It’s on its way down. And commercialism now is the juggernaut system that’s running roughshod over other important value systems like health, safety, economic opportunity, justice and other values that don’t have a dollar figure on them.

Source: Alternative Radio, interview by David Barsamian Dec 8, 1995

Ralph Nader on Gay Rights

Nader supports gay marriage; but gay groups support Gore

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights group, has urged voters to back Gore. The HRC’s director asserts that votes for Nader could tip the election to Bush, saying, “if Nader’s candidacy causes Bush to win, his conservative Supreme Court appointees could put the prospect of gay and lesbian equality in jeopardy.”

The organization made the appeal even though Nader supports legalizing marriage for gays and lesbians while Gore and Bush do not. Gore supports recognizing limited “contractual rights” normally reserved for married couples. Bush has said that he supports allowing states to decide the issue.

Some gay Republicans objected to what one called the HRC’s “scare tactics.” A spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP organization, said Bush is supportive of gay rights. “This is the first GOP nominee in history who has reached out to gays and lesbians,” he said. Bush has said he would not discriminate against gays and allow them to serve in his cabinet.

Source: Eric Rosenberg, San Francisco Examiner Nov 2, 2000

Equal gay rights, including civil union

Q: Are you in favor of civil unions for gay couples and should a foreign spouse be given a green card to join his gay partner in the US?

A: My view on this is equal rights, equal responsibilities for gay and lesbian people. That would cover all issues.

Source: Nader-Buchanan debate on ‘Meet the Press’ Oct 1, 2000

Supports Civil Union in Vermont and elsewhere

Q: Does the state have a right to say that only heterosexuals can be married?
A: I think homosexuals have the right of civil union. There are economic reasons for that and there are humanitarian reasons for that, and I think the Vermont decision is a good one, and I think homosexuals should be given equal rights and equal responsibilities.
Source: Interview on ‘Meet the Press’ May 7, 2000

Long history of fighting in sexual politics

Q: In your 1996 campaign, you said you wouldn’t get involved in “gonadal politics.” Is this year going to be any different?

A: The word “gonadal” means that which begets. I could have used the word sexual politics. I fought against the restrictions on women being prohibited from civil juries way back before some of the more prominent issues of homosexual rights and abortion came onto the political scene. The Green Party will be speaking out on these issues as well.

Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Ralph Nader on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
School Choice
Social Security
Tax Reform
War & Peace