George Will

-- Violently intimidating the state Board of Canvassers, which certifies that initiatives have qualified for the ballot. The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) disrupted the board's deliberations, shouting and overturning a table. Video of this can been seen at

-- Asking a court to rule that MCRI committed ``fraud" because many who signed the petition supposedly were confused -- the signers were, presumably, not competent to read and understand the initiative, the full text of which was printed at the top of each petition. A federal judge -- Arthur Tarnow, a Clinton appointee -- sadly said he could not rule that way because, although he thinks MCRI is a fraud, whites as well as blacks were confused about it, and even if all signatures gathered in majority black cities were invalidated, there still were enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot. So Tarnow contented himself with an extrajudicial smear of Gratz, charging that her ``deception" had confused all Michigan voters, regardless of race.

-- Michigan ballots are printed by counties, so BAMN says it is asking local officials to assert an extralegal ``moral authority" to leave MCRI off the ballot.

Because the plain language of MCRI is appealing, some opponents argue that MCRI would have terrible ``unintended consequences." It might, they say, eliminate single-sex public schools (Michigan has none; eight of 3,748 schools have a few voluntary single-sex classes) and breast-cancer screening, or might stop a Department of Natural Resources' program aimed at helping Michigan women become hunters (the initiative concerns only hiring, contracting and public schools).

Given the caliber of opposition arguments, it is no wonder a Detroit News poll published Sept. 15 shows MCRI with an 11-point lead. Gratz says that if her group is outspent ``only" five to one -- Connerly was outspent that heavily while winning in Washington state -- MCRI will become Michigan law.

Anti-MCRI demonstrators chant, ``They say Jim Crow, we say hell no." So, the rancid residue of what once was the civil rights movement equates Jim Crow -- the system of enforced legal inferiority for blacks -- with opposition to treating blacks as wards of government, in need of infantilizing preferences, forever. To such Orwellian thinking, Gratz and Connerly -- and soon, perhaps, Michigan -- say: Hell no.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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