The End of Affirmative Action? Who Can Stop Ward Connerly?
By Jennifer Millman

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Affirmative-action foe Ward Connerly makes an easy sell to the public by calling for "equal opportunity" and a "colorblind society," a distortion of civil-rights language that has duped the public into banning affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting in Michigan, California and Washington state. Now he's at it again.

But this time, he's run into a roadblock in Missouri, one of five states"”along with Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma"”where he's campaigning to ban affirmative action in 2008 as part of his previously announced "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights."

If these initiatives are approved by voters in these states, "equality" is unlikely to be the outcome. The anti-affirmative-action camp intentionally uses vague language to confuse voters who might be turned off by a proposed ban on affirmative action in their state. Fortunately, language for ballot measures to amend state constitutions must first be approved by the state officials, such as the attorney general and secretary of state, which led to a three-year delay in Michigan before Connerly could get the ban before voters. A similar situation is unfolding in Missouri.

Following the modus operandi of Connerly's national campaign, the so-called Missouri Civil Rights Initiative (MoCRI), proposed language that didn't once mention the term "affirmative action" in a ballot measure that would ban it from public employment, education and contracting if the public says yes. It said: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." Read it here.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Attorney General Jay Nixon say no. They changed the language to reflect the actual purpose of the ballot initiative, which is to eliminate affirmative action, and to include a second provision that would allow "race preferences" where affirmative-action programs are required to be eligible for federal funding. Read the state's version.

Connerly lambasted the state officials for allegedly trying to keep the initiative off the 2008 ballot, calling it an "abuse of constitutional office." MoCRI filed an appeal to overrule the state's ballot language.

But the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), which recently launched a Task Force on Equity in the States to fight Connerly's machine, approves of Carnahan's move and wrote a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star to that effect. The letter highlights the deceptive wording on the Missouri initiative. Carnahan wrote a letter thanking the organization for its support and commending its efforts to preserve equality.

"We think she's doing the right thing, and those who seek equity should do so with clean hands. Some of the draft initiatives in other states were simply misleading," AAAA Executive Director Shirley Wilcher told DiversityInc.

AAAA is one of many organizations committed to fighting Connerly and his crew, yet a recent Diverse Issues in Higher Education article suggests most civil-rights organizations have given up hope of defeating him, in light of two recent Supreme Court decisions on voluntary school integration that affirmative-action foes have used for momentum by manipulating public interpretation to suit their agenda. This only adds fuel to Connerly's argument that we have reached the "end of an era."

Wilcher emphatically disagrees. "It's not fair to say people have walked away from this," she says. "People are taking different approaches. I think we're far from over."

Wilcher disputes the conclusions of the Diverse Issues in Higher Education article. "They didn't go far enough to interview people who really are concerned," she says. "There are groups, I understand, at least in Missouri, who are beginning to gather to discuss their response."

The campaigns are still in the early stages, which may explain the lack of public outcry.

"People are assessing what happened in Michigan, and they're probably tailoring their efforts on the local level, depending upon where people stand on this issue," says Wilcher. "The states are different; their economic situations are different and they have to develop their strategies accordingly. I'm not [in Missouri], but I sense that there's more happening than is obvious ... I don't think there's enough evidence that people have given up just because some particularly older or younger folks just don't understand it. It's far too premature."

What Happens Next?

Twenty-three states allow voter-approved ballot initiatives to amend state constitutions. MoCRI says it needs 139,000 signatures to get the measure on the 2008 ballot, which is about 3.3 percent of the state's voting population, most of which is white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. It's no coincidence that most of Connerly's current campaigns are in states where white people are disproportionately represented compared with the nation and blacks are drastically underrepresented. (See chart below.)

The initiatives in the five states are staffed with a who's who of prominent conservative activists, including Linda Chavez, president and founder of the anti-affirmative-action Center for Equal Opportunity, who is honorary co-chair of the Colorado initiative. John Uhlmann, a wealthy Kansas City businessman who gave $190,000 to Connerly's failed efforts to pass a 2003 bill that would have prohibited state and local government from classifying people on the basis of "race, ethnicity, color or national origin" in California, is honorary chair of the MoCRI. Uhlmann co-founded a politicized media group that became known for producing and airing controversial radio ads with "reverse reparations" messages aimed at African-American communities during the 2002 election cycle.

Connerly says all five campaigns are "going extremely well," reports Cybercast News. With more than a year to go before the initiatives would appear on state ballots, civil-rights leaders and state supporters of affirmative action should use the time wisely to educate the public about the real threat posed by the initiative and how to interpret the misleading messages of the campaign, says Wilcher.

While many factors are still at play, such as "how the language is drafted, whether its challenged beforehand, the will of the people," Wilcher says "what's important is for the media to clearly help us to educate America on what affirmative action is and is not."

Affirmative action is not a "black/white" issue, for one thing, says Wilcher, who often reads these comments, primarily from white women.

"The beneficiaries are far broader," she explains, citing the people with disabilities and veterans in the Department of Labor who have also benefited from affirmative action. "The first thing we need to do is educate. Given the demographics of the future, if we don't have affirmative action, we'll have to reinvent it."
Original Post
'those who seek equity'

Ward Connerly fill in the blank.

This equality thing is the 20th century extension of Booker T. Washington's solution to 'The Negro Problem' posed in the 1890s.

And haven't gotten 'hip' to that even until today.

Many of us still sing the 'Equity...Equality Song'.

Parity blows Ward Connerly out of the box.

Parity is a demand.

Equality is a plea.


Jim Chester
I watched this little cockeyed weasel selling his bs to a room full of White folks on C-Span last weekend. I wanted to reach through my TV screen and stck on his round little bald head! Mad
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
I watched this little cockeyed weasel selling his bs to a room full of White folks on C-Span last weekend. I wanted to reach through my TV screen and stck on his round little bald head! Mad
Angry? lol
Top civil rights prosecutor resigns

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 24, 3:15 PM ET

The Justice Department's top civil rights enforcer resigned Thursday following more than a year of criticism that his office filled its ranks with conservative loyalists instead of experienced attorneys.

Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim was the first immigrant and first Korean-American to head the department's civil rights division "” a post he held for just over two years.

Kim is the latest senior Justice official to leave amid a scathing congressional investigation that has raised questions about the department's political independence from the White House.

Kim had been rumored for months to be leaving the department, and is expected to join a private law firm. He worked at Justice for over 10 years, starting as a criminal trial attorney, and was one of the few Senate-confirmed senior officials left.

"For over a decade now, Wan Kim has served the Department of Justice and the American people with distinction and honor," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a statement Thursday. "Wan has worked his way up through the department, and I will miss his honest opinions and valuable contributions as an adviser to me."

The department's civil rights division enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including at work, at election polls and even at casinos. In May, Kim's office settled with MGM Mirage Inc., the world's second-largest casino company, for $55,000 over complaints that several of its hotels were not accessible to the handicapped.

Kim also pursued the illegal and exploitative trafficking of foreign women and children who were forced into slave labor in the U.S. "” often working as prostitutes. His office helped re-ignite a decades-old murder case gone cold, winning a guilty conviction in June against a reputed Ku Klux Klansman who abducted two black teenagers in a long-ignored crime from Mississippi's bloody past.

But Justice's civil rights division has drawn criticism. Last year, a Boston Globe analysis of Justice Department hiring data found that the office had become highly politicized with the hiring of lawyers who had little civil rights experience but strong GOP credentials.

Moreover, critics contend that the office has largely focused on voter fraud cases "” which civil rights groups charge are intended to hold down minority turnout.

In June, Kim testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about transfer of three minority female lawyers from the his office's voting rights section. The move had been directed by Bradley Schlozman, the former voting rights chief who also has resigned, effective last week.

During his testimony, Kim told senators that he had been concerned by the move and said remarks by Schlozman that appeared to question the women's patriotism "were intemperate and inopportune."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said Kim's resignation was part of a mass exodus from the Justice Department that "must not hinder our efforts to demand accountability."

"Too many questions have remained unanswered, too many civil rights laws have not been enforced and too many officials have resigned to evade the accountability that is to come for the disastrously flawed policies of this administration," said Kennedy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Justice Department said Kim's office set record levels of civil rights enforcement, including winning the most criminal convictions in a single year over the past two decades. In addition, he filed more than twice the average number of voting rights lawsuits in a 12-month period than were filed annually over the past 30 years.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.

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