Kasting call

Cristina Verán's "Rap, Rage, REDvolution" [April 21-27] was long overdue. Despite what one might think of OutKast's music, and taking into consideration their right to present themselves however they see fit, they seem "retro" in the worst possible sense of the word. Apolitical is one thing, Native American bashing is another.

OutKast's video image is a mix of Morris Day-meets-couture cued from the all-too-familiar lawn jockey statues that people still keep on their lawns.

Why do their videos look like outtakes from the bold Spike Lee film Bamboozled? Dead Prez, Spearhead, and Jay-Z know what time it is. Why are we embracing OutKast? I say cast 'em out.

When Harry met Tarek

In "Ralph Nader, Suicide Bomber" [May 5-11], Harry G. Levine relies heavily on his imagination. The Voice should have checked the words he attributed to me in quotation marks before publishing them: I never uttered the words "we want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them." Levine and I had a conversation about the "safe states" strategy that he espoused. Since Ralph Nader's campaign was one based on principle, rather than political games, I knew that he would never undermine his own convictions on the issues by semi-endorsing Al Gore, and I expressed that to Levine. I told Mr. Levine what I had repeated many times during the 2000 campaign: "The Democrats should not be allowed to take progressive voters for granted anymore. Democratic politicians should pay for their betrayals in votes." This was a rather banal statement of the most basic of political truths.

Although some commented, during the 2000 campaign, that environmentalists and others would have an easier time raising money under Bush, I never took that view to justify potential benefits to a Bush presidency, as Levine implies. What I did repeatedly say in 2000 was that I thought that the same damage to the environment that occurred under Clinton would receive much more attention under Bush because of his awful record in Texas.

Levine claims that I "acknowledged" that a Bush presidency would be worse for poor, working-class, and black Americans. Nonsense. I acknowledged no such thing, having seen, in one area after another, the plight of poor and working-class Americans worsen or stagnate under Clinton. Furthermore, I had recently met a black Justice Department lawyer who characterized civil rights enforcement—that is, actions, not words—under Clinton as being "as bad, or worse, than [under] Reagan and Bush." Levine has invented this "acknowledgment" on my part to bolster his baseless contention that Ralph Nader's campaign was an act of destructive revenge.

In fact, Nader and many of us working on his campaign were quite certain, as soon as Bush had the Republican nomination locked up, that Gore would win the election. But—far from Levine's absurd characterization that dozens of people on the Nader campaign worked their hearts out for a personal vendetta—that was beside the point for us. Our every effort went toward competing for votes on the issues and the record.

Finally, if I were indeed "piercingly intelligent," as Levine claims, it would be obvious to Voice readers that I would not have discussed anything with Levine.

Tarek Milleron
Berkeley, California

Harry G. Levine replies: In 2000, Ralph Nader claimed that he was running to win 5 percent of the vote and build the Green Party by getting it federal funding. But this was a deception, a lie. Nader's chief campaign goal was actually to punish the Democrats by taking enough votes in some swing states like Florida to defeat Al Gore. In effect, Nader tried to "Kill Bill and Al." Now, in 2004, Nader has nothing to do with the Green Party and is running as an independent claiming to be the anti-war and anti-Bush candidate. But this too is a deception, a lie. Nader's chief goal this time is to punish the Democrats by taking enough votes in some swing states to "Kill Kerry."

Tarek Milleron indeed said the things I reported. And despite his protestations, Mr. Milleron just about admits this. He writes: "Democratic politicians should pay for their betrayals in votes." This doesn't mean Kerry should win by a smaller margin—it means Kerry should lose and Bush should win. Mr. Milleron's own words show us that Nader truly views his presidential campaigns as weapons of vengeance aimed to defeat the Democrats.

F—k yeah!

Re Douglas Wolk's "Indecent Exposure" [The Essay, April 21-27]: Well, it took you long enough. Every week I would open the Voice in the hope I finally would see an article about what the FCC is doing to free speech, and I was growing increasingly frustrated at finding nothing.

Unfortunately, Wolk's essay focused too much on simply reporting the problem and was too short on indignation and outrage. Has the Voice fallen in step with all of the rest of the media who are too afraid to stand up to Michael Powell? And where is Nat Hentoff on this issue? He continues to champion the free-expression rights of librarians in Cuba in his column (and rightfully so), yet ignores the FCC's censoring crusade.

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