The season of blaming things on Ralph Nader would seem to be long past, which makes it startling to see Jonathan Alter so comprehensively lose his mind in his National Memo column, which is headlined “How Ralph Nader’s Sins Set Trayvon Martin’s Killer Free” so that it will draw traffic.

Nader actually isn’t given very much more than a parenthetical treatment in the text proper, in which Alter hazards a “butterfly effect” analysis of political history. Neither is Trayvon Martin. But behold Alter’s theory: In the 1960s and ’70s Ralph Nader was a high-profile consumer activist. In 1971 Lewis Powell, shortly before joining the Supreme Court, wrote a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce entitled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” In it he singled out Nader as the “single most effective antagonist of American business.”