The Daily printed today a letter written in response to a column by Ari Paul about the anti-affirmative action ballot initiative led and bankrolled by Ward Connerly. Paul has written a response, which appears exclusively here, following the letter from the campaign manager of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

“To the Daily:

A letter recently appeared on your pages (Waiting for Connerly (A play in three acts), 01/14/04) that elevated complete disregard for even the most basic facts to new heights.

It began by claiming that “The drama continued on Monday, when Ward Connerly, the leader of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, announced the beginning of the campaign to get a proposal on a statewide ballot in November to end affirmative action in higher education.” The only thing the author got right was that the proposal would go on a statewide ballot this November.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative says nothing whatever about affirmative action. It would merely end the practice by state and local government of segregating people according to their physical characteristics — race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin — and then treating them differently on that basis.

Further, the proposed constitutional amendment would apply not only to University admissions, but also to employment and promotions, and awarding of contracts.

Nor is Ward Connerly the leader of the petition drive. It is in fact being co-chaired by two state representatives from the Michigan House. Further, it’s executive director, campaign manager and treasurer are all Michiganders. As is the entire steering committee.

Had the author actually bothered to attend the Jan. 12 press conference he might have noticed that Ward Connerly was not even there, let alone making any kind of announcement about anything. I don’t keep his schedule, but I assume that Connerly was at home in California at the time, although he certainly would have been welcome to attend our event.

Indeed, the only Californians present were from BAMN — an organization of thugs and hooligans that actually boasts of its contempt for the entire democratic process as though that were a virtue. It was in fact also BAMN members who attempted to disrupt the July announcement on campus, before finally being removed by security. One shouting that she would continue “until people like (Connerly) are no longer allowed to speak on a public forum” (a perfect example of BAMN’s disregard for civilized discourse).

And these were only the beginning of an unbroken string of misstatements, distortions, and complete disregard for facts in this piece. I don’t think the author has much of a future in journalism.

Tim O’Brien
Campaign manager,
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative”

And Ari’s response:

“Reply to Tim O’Brien,
By: Ari Paul

Mr. O’Brien makes several attempts to undermine, distort and misrepresent my statements on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

He tries to assert that the MCRI does not seek to end affirmative action, but rather race conscious admissions practices. He almost has a good point here, however, whether he likes it or not, in the contemporary campus discourse, affirmative action and the race conscious admission policies of the University are synonymous. While the words affirmative action may not appear on the ballot question, its passage would abolish our system of affirmative action.

He also makes the claim that Ward Connerly is not the leader of the MCRI. While he may believe this, it is recognized by most metropolitan daily papers that he does have a leadership position, a fact that can be verified once one peruses the MCRI official website. There is another news source that represents Connerly as the backbone of the petition drive to end race conscious admissions: The Michigan Review, hardly a source of liberal distortion.

Mr. O’Brien also weakly tries to associate me with BAMN. If he does a search on the Daily’s website for my name plus BAMN, he would find that I have always been highly critical of their tactics.

And lastly, Mr. O’Brien ends his rant with an ad hominem attack, which in political dialogues, is always a sign of someone running out of arguments. He says he doesn’t believe that I have a future in journalism. Fine, let him think that. I also challenge him to tell his opinion to the three editors for whom I’ve freelanced and the three editors with whom I have interviews this semester.

Mr. O’Brien is very angry that I represented Connerly exactly how the mainstream media has. He is angry that I see past his semantic follies. He is so angry that he has been reduced to ad hominem attacks.

I wish him luck in his career as a political activist.”

Author: Rob