Bedford, NH

Regarding Doug Ireland’s smear dated January 12, [“Nader and the Newmanites”] your readers might want to know the facts. Ralph Nader was not there as a candidate but by invitation to talk about the civil liberties of third parties and independents before an audience from twenty-one states. The Clark and Kucinich campaigns sent representatives who spoke, and the Dean, Sharpton, Clark and Edwards campaigns participated by surveys that were distributed to all attendees. The Libertarian candidate, Gary Nolan, spoke. Natural Law Party, Greens and former Perot Reform Party organizers were all in attendance.

Ralph spoke about the unlevel playing field that a rigged, winner-take-all, two-party system presents for all third parties and independents, how this hurts regeneration in politics and the historical value of third parties against exclusionary state laws and practices. This was not a campaign launch by any stretch–it was a defense of the First Amendment and civil liberties. Ireland admits he wasn’t there (I was) and didn’t talk to anyone who was, relying on a media advisory to write his story. Is this the standard of journalism at The Nation?

And, if so, will Ireland deploy his ad hominem attack to all civil libertarians who gather with people from widely different views? Maybe we can now expect that he will turn his pen to excoriating the ACLU for working with former Representatives Bob Barr and Dick Armey?

McCarthyism on the left. Nation readers beware.

JASON KAFOURY
Organizer for Ralph Nader’s appearance at the conference


IRELAND REPLIES

New York City

Kafoury’s letter on behalf of Nader does not challenge a single fact about the Newmanites in my article. Nader was the only prominent “name” speaker at the confence that the Newmanites organized. If other candidates sent representatives, shame on them too. But it was Nader, unlike those other candidates, whom I endorsed in the public prints in two elections–and when I did so I never imagined he could be so reckless as to legitimize with his presence a cult-racket like the Newman/Fulani/New Alliance operation and its new front group. I thus felt a responsibility to warn young people and others for whom Nader’s name is a stamp of approval, but who might not be sophisticated enough to know who was behind the Bedford dog-and-pony show, and what they were getting into. Ralph allowed himself to be used as bait to help draw the unsuspecting into the Newmanite orbit, where they risk being sucked into this odious cult, and I did not have to be present at the front group’s meeting to know that. The Newmanites are manipulative totalitarians whose strange journey from Maoism to Pat Buchanan shows they’re opposed to the democratic values Ralph has always stood for. To analogize them to the ACLU is just plain goofy–and while Barr and Armey are reactionaries, they are legitimate actors on the political stage. The Newmanites are not–they are frauds. To alert people to their history and true nature is a public service, not McCarthyism. I stand by what I wrote.

DOUG IRELAND