Arbor Update

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MCRI Update, Segregation and Fraud

23. January 2006 • Ari Paul
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The State Board of Canvassers has approved the MCRI, the ballot question that will outlaw racially classified affirmative action in hiring and admissions at public institutions, thus placing it on the 2006 ballot for now.

Michigan suffers from acute racial segregation in public education according to several studies and affirmative action was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2003 as a way to increase diversity in the workforce and in higher education given that segregation.

But Ward Connerly, who helped develop the MCRI, has always caused raised eyebrows on the subject of racial segregation.

In 2003, Connerly said, talking about California public schools, “I don’t care whether they are segregated or not…” In 2002, after Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) said he supported Strom Thurmond, Connerly said “Supporting segregation need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races.”

BAMN, who opposes the measure, claims in that MCRI canvassers lied to signers in order to get enough names.

The MCRI, in reaction, has charged BAMN with being “extremists.” Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the MCRI said, “MCRI set the gold standard in following Michigan law when it collected more than a half-million petition signatures.”



  1. Gratz not Grantz
       —David Boyle    Jan. 23 '06 - 07:15PM    #
  2. corrected

    we all need editors,
    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Jan. 23 '06 - 08:58PM    #
  3. I’m working on an article about BAMN; I have some inside knowledge about the group. I’ll post it when it’s done.

    Thank you Ari for not maligning them as so many reporters have.
       —Adam    Jan. 25 '06 - 01:12AM    #
  4. This is in response to a letter that the Michigan Daily ran today, with the usual comments about the “militant Trotskyite group” BAMN:

    This is new ground in the BAMN-RWL connection. Previous slanders would only go so far as to say that Luke Massie, a top BAMN coordinator, is a member of the Revolutionary Workers’ League. Now, BAMN is an “official branch.”

    So I decided to find out if this was true. First I checked out BAMN’s website and tried various searches. “Communism,” “communist,” etc yielded no results at all, “RWL” brought up only one result—a press release from 1999 endorsed by the RWL. “Trotsky” brought up a single newsletter which had a Trotsky quote in it:

    “The swift changes of mass views and moods in an epoch of revolution thus derive, not from the flexibility and mobility of man’s mind, but just the opposite, from its deep conservatism. The chronic lag of ideas and relations behind new objective conditions, right up to the moment when the latter crash over people in the form of a catastrophe, is what creates in a period of revolution that leaping movement of ideas and passions which seems to the police mind a mere result of the activities of ‘demagogues.’”

    Hardly Trotskyism-just a quote, after all-and again, having been in BAMN for a year without having heard an iota of Trotskyism from BAMN, the connection seemed tenuous at best.

    Next I checked out the their website and it didn’t say anything about BAMN, except that it was linked on their “links” page. Actually, their website didn’t say much at all. Looking at the cover page, the “under construction” campigns page, the lack of contact information, the flyers page with no new flyers since 2000, the website certainly didn’t suggest much. Was this group (or at least just this website) invented by the right wing to defame BAMN? I wondered. The term “U.S. sympathizing section” on the front page also struck me as a bizarre choice of words.

    I checked archive.org and it had no records of the group at all. Odd, if the site had been up since 1999. But a recent domain name or server change would have accounted for that, though.

    Next I obtained the RWL’s contact number with a WHOIS search and called it. It was definitely an individual person’s phone number, not an office. The voice on the other end sounded familiar.

    I spoke with the man about a few issues, and the responses I got were interesting. Yes, BAMN is definitely influenced by the RWL in major ways, he said. Luke Massie is a member of the RWL. What he couldn’t tell me, however, is what else the RWL is involved with.

    Since apparently the RWL is the “U.S. sympathizing section of the International Trotskyist Committee for the Political Regeneration of the Fourth International,” I decided to look up the larger group.

    Didn’t find much. Googling around led me in circles between various directories, not one with any sort of contact information. These Trotskyists seemed more shadowy than al Qaeda! Wikipedia actually says that the RWL is the core of the group. Which left me right back where I started.

    It is entirely incorrect to state that BAMN is an “official branch” of the RWL. Obviously BAMN is a far larger organization than the RWL, with thousands of outspoken supporters, a legal team, a legal fund, and an extensive and well-documented history.

    The RWL doesn’t appear to have any official branches at all, any spokespersons, or anything much to show for itself. My conclusion is that it’s just another of those Marxist discussion groups—there are zillions of them. Whether or not Luke Massie is a member isn’t relevant, because BAMN is solely concerned with defending affirmative action and does not discuss personal politics. If thousands of people are standing with BAMN to defend affirmative action and none of them know (or care) what Luke’s political leanings are, then that puts an end to the RWL issue.

    If the RWL is somehow exerting a hidden influence on BAMN, there would be evidence of it. Some will cite BAMN’s “violent tendencies” as evidence, but there isn’t much to show for that, either.

    Which brings up the question of violence. Shouting and knocking over a table is not violence. Beatings, lynchings, and killings—now that’s violence. You can’t fault BAMN for failing to control a rowdy group of high-schoolers fighting for a fair chance of getting into college. I think it’s kind of cool that BAMN brought them there, actually.

    All things considered, in a clash between a large group of middle- and high-schoolers, many of whom were already disadvantaged by an inferior educational system, and arrogant (and verbally abusive) segregationist college Republicans, the Republicans were, as Ben Royal said, “lucky nothing worse happened.”
       —Adam de Angeli    Jan. 25 '06 - 07:31PM    #
  5. Adam,
    While I appreciate your quest for the RWL-BAMN connection, I’m not convinced there isn’t a strong association. It is true that BAMN is larger than the RWL now. As the tale goes, or so it was told to me, BAMN was developed to gain momentum for the RWL. The RWL was fledging and marginalized (I’m not sure web searches are the best way to find out info about them, word of folks who have done labor work would probably be more useful) and needed some way to influence people that their ideological position, Trotsky or not, was valid. Thus BAMN was birthed out of the need to connect and co-opt a hot button issue. So is Luke in RWL, sure, is RWL strong, probably not, do they lie at the root of BAMN, sounds like it could. Even if it has grown larger than RWL I’ve always found BAMN’S points of origin in Cali and here in Michigan… interesting to say the least.
       —dumi    Jan. 25 '06 - 07:53PM    #
  6. the crossover between rwl and bamn is high, so say members and former members…

    also, the fact that this is not dislosed on either of their websites should not be used as evidence…if pinochet never had any public documents with a c.i.a. stamp on it, well, you can see where i’m going with that…

    engels is my co-pilot,
    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Jan. 25 '06 - 08:29PM    #
  7. Trotskyist (and other Red) groups routinely pursue the strategy of creating secondary organizations, controlled by their cadre, with the intent to appeal to the instincts of the broader population. These organizations are designed to have address some issue consistent with the organizations ideolog, but also to “radicalize” members, and rope the most committed into the “core” organization. This practice is well documented and reaches back decades. In fact, the right-wing John Birch Society intentionally copied this strategy, creating various “patriotic” clubs that organized around rather vacuous “patriotic” themes and used those groups to rope in new members.

    I’m not smearing Commies here. Committed communists and socialists have been involved in some of the most important organizing toward social change in US history. I have no problem with ideological reds working within social change organizations. I think it becomes problematic when a small cadre of ideological zealots control and dominate a organization, and actively use the organization to recruit new members to the ideological organization. Especially when that organization effectively acts as a cult.

    There are a number of folks Rob or I could find to tell their stories of BAMN’s tactics for indoctrinating and “recruiting” BAMN activists, attempting to pull them in to the RWL and their brand of communist ideology. And there are even more who can testify to the relatively opaque and undemocratic fashion in the way BAMN operates.

    I think it’s also important to note that BAMN has not exactly “played well with others” working on the Affirmative Action issue on campus. They’re working on an important issue, but they’ve also done a lot to discredit the issue among many reasonable people by their language and tactics. They’ve also made it difficult and divisive for more students to organize around and address the issue.

    Also, BAMN is not the only organization with strong RWL ties. For example, look up NWROC and DAAP.
       —Scott T.    Jan. 25 '06 - 10:27PM    #
  8. Adam, I applaud you for your investigations. There’s more information I uncovered at www.nobamn.com. I also found a great website at one point called the “Red Encyclopedia.” Unfortunately the webmaster retired and the domain expired, however I have mirrored some of it here. I agree with Scott: it seems to me what the problem is is not the RWL per se, but the domination of the group by a small, undemocratic cadre.
       —Rob    Jan. 25 '06 - 11:31PM    #
  9. Here’s the link:
       —Rob    Jan. 25 '06 - 11:35PM    #
  10. Adam:

    At what point is it ok to take the gloves off with respect to BAMN and its tactics? Certainly an educated analysis would be appropriate, but I’m not at all sympathetic to calls for restraint after the recent stunts with the canvassers.

    I’m not comfortable with the word slander being thrown around casually – particularly given that you prove the supposedly slanderous charge as 100% accurate later in your peice. Moreover, I find screaming, kicking over tables and the like to be violent enough to at least label it as such. And every conversation that I’ve had with BAMN members and officers has affirmed at least some comfort on their part with violence as a means to an end.

    Overall, I’m just not sure where the sympathy is coming from from your end. Has BAMN really not gotten a fair shake in your mind?
       —Daniel Adams    Jan. 26 '06 - 12:44AM    #