Why the escalation? First, Connerly's Michigan efforts are striking fear into the hearts of BAMN leaders. Second, with Gov. Schwarzenegger's election in California in early November, right-leaning members of the Board of Regents stand to gain ground. Connerly elaborates: "Gov. Davis was a very assertive governor who sought to influence who would be the chair of the Board, who would be the vice-chair. ... Gov. Davis' departure radically changes that circumstance. Wilson people will have a fairer shot at being leaders on the Board. Then, ultimately, with new appointees, Gov. Schwarzenegger will be able to influence the policy of the Board by his appointments."
In the face of revitalized opposition, Connerly remains steadfast. "BAMN is the sort of entity that you would only dignify with a response," he told me. "But if you ignore them, then you almost lose the battle by default.
"Their tactics have no place in our democracy. ... Their name, By Any Means Necessary, reveals their militant, outrageous tactics. They are people who exploit young students, middle-school kids. They go to schools and somehow convince the teachers and principal to let middle-school kids out of school to serve as fronts for their protests and their rallies." This is absolutely accurate. At many BAMN rallies, high schoolers compose a large segment of the protesters. In Michigan, the Ann Arbor Huron High School allowed students to leave class and attend BAMN's anti-Connerly rallies. (Administrators at the high school could not be reached for comment.)
The hatred for Connerly runs deeper than his positions. There is a definite racial tinge to the resentment. A graphic on the BAMN Web site portrays Connerly as a marionette. The Black Commentator, an Internet-based newsmag for "African Americans and their allies in the struggle for social and economic justice" accuses Connerly of shilling for "rich white benefactors" and attempting "ethnic cleansing" against the black community.
"It's just unconscionable to them that a brown-skinned guy who is 'black' would dare to do what I do," Connerly observes. "'How dare you go against your people, go against THE community?!'" When asked if he has been distanced from the largely liberal black community, Connerly responds: "Yeah, but so what? It only affects you if you care."
And Connerly doesn't care. "I want to go out there on the battlefield and wrestle them, fight them. That's why I'm a threat to them. I'm not content."