Ward Connerly announced on Tuesday that he and allies are launching an effort to place a proposed amendment to the Michigan constitutuion to ban racial preferences on the November 2004 ballot.
Theodore Shaw, associate director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, is worried. “It is possible for a lot of people to find his colorblind message to be superficially appealing,” Mr. Shaw commented.
There was a time when the NAACP and its legal arm did not regard the principle of colorblindness as superficial. Indeed, that principle used to be the very foundation of their demand for civil rights. ”
Classifications and distinctions based on race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society. They are contrary to our constitution and laws.
That was not Ward Connerly but Thurgood Marshall, in the NAACP brief demanding the end of racial discrimination at the University of Oklahoma law school (Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 ).
Connerly’s campaign for racial equality will face concerted opposition, not only from the usual suspects in the NAACP, BAMN (the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, which is urging boycotts of any corporations who give financial support to Connerly), and the Democratic Party, but also from Republican leaders. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, Betsy DeVos, said the measure was likely to “result in more division than unity. I fear,” she added, “that this proposed ballot initiative would only serve to further divide people along racial lines, which would be entirely counterproductive.” (Link requires subscription)
If the anti-slavery founders of the Repubublican Party had shared Ms. DeVos’s aversion to divisiveness there never would have been a Republican Party.
UPDATE – I’ve just sent the following to the staff of the Michigan Republican Party:
Dear Republican Party of Michigan:
In looking up your web page this morning to find the email address for your chairman, Betsy DeVos, I was surprised to discover that she was the only leadership person whose email address was not provided. Perhaps one of you would be kind enough to pass this message on to her.
I am writing to say how sad and disappointed I was to see Ms. DeVos’s statement (I saw it in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but it’s been widely reported) opposing Ward Connerly’s effort to embody the principle of racial equality in the Michigan constitution. According to the quote I saw, Ms. DeVos stated that the effort to promote the ideal of colorblind racial equality would “result in more division than unity” and would thus be “counterproductive.”
As I’ve just posted on my blog devoted to these matters (address below), it’s a good thing the anti-slavery founders of the Republican Party did not allow their distate for divisiveness to force them to abandon their principles. If they had, there would have been no Republican Party. On the other hand, if Ms. DeVos’s stance should prove typical of the Party, I’m tempted to say it would have been no great loss.
As you will see from my address below, I am not a Michigan Republican, and in the normal course of events you would never have heard from me. I grew up in Alabama under segregation, was a Democrat for many years, and was finally drawn to the Republican Party precisely because of what I thought was its principled opposition to distributing benefits or burdens based on race. I am not a large contributor…. As of now, however, any contributions that I might be tempted to make in the future will probably go to Ward Connerly and not to any Republican organizations.
On those checks I will say that Betsy sent me.