Monday, June 27th, 2005
Monday, June 20th, 2005
According to an email I was forwarded, the featured speaker at a fundraiser in for MARAL Pro-Choice Michigan in Ann Arbor Thursday is non other than Miranda Massie.
Miranda was the lead attorney for one group of student intervenors (the law students - not the undergrad intervenors) in the Grutter v. Bollinger affirmative action case. She’s also the sister of Luke Massie, an organizer for the organization Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAM-N). She’s also one of the core leaders of a Trotskyite sect called the Revolutionary Workers League which goes by the name BAM-N in public. RWL was founded by George Washington, an activist attorney who built up a practice with a small group (Scheff & Washington) in combination with his efforts to build a revolutionary Trotskyite organization.
This one is tough: Massie is no doubt an accomplished attorney and the law firm has certainly litigated a number of worthy cases. In general I have heard only good things about MARAL, and I trust they simply don’t know much about BAM-N, but I question their wisdom of inviting Massie to speak. Despite the slickness of their “Speakers’ Bureau” webpage, there’s a lot about BAM-N they wouldn’t like you to know. BAM-N’s recruitment tactics verge on cult-like (One former member was brought to Detroit to participate in hours-long Marxist study sessions), and their organizing tactics are always divisive, sometimes violent, and frequently downright nasty. In his role as organizer for the group, Luke Massie has physically intimidated friends of mine, engaged in yelling matches, and called one of my best friends (an ACLU member and committed progressive) a “white devil.” Nathan Newman, a well-known journalist and blogger and columnist for the Populist Progressive, has called BAM-N a “threat … to the affirmative action and civil rights movement” and said his research, “In twenty years of political organizing, I have never seen such violent and thuggish behavior, a step beyond the worst sectarian acts I had ever imagined.” The Michigan Daily has harshly criticized the organization in an editorial.
So, I guess I wouldn’t invite a member of the group to come to speak at my fundraiser. But that’s just me. Here’s the bio they circulated on their email:
About Miranda Massie
Miranda Massie is a civil rights attorney with Scheff & Washington in Detroit, and has been actively involved in organizing for women’s rights and civil rights throughout her education and career. Massie is currently representing a sixteen-year-old male from Macomb County charged
with a major felony for trying to assist his girlfriend in terminating her pregnancy. He is being tried for intentional conduct against a pregnant individual resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth, a 15-year felony. Massie argues that it was not assault because the girlfriend consented to the means of the termination, and that the young girl was simply exercising her right to an abortion.
Massie received a B.A magna cum laude from Cornell University, an M.A in History and American Studies from Yale University, and a J.D. cum laude from the New York University School of Law in 1996. One of her best known cases is Grutter v. Bollinger, for which she served as lead counsel to student defendants in the University of Michigan affirmative action case.
Massie is also currently a member of the legal team challenging Ward Connerly’s attempts to ban affirmative action in Michigan.
These days, BAM-N spends their time blowing hot air about MCRI. For organizing that’s not from a freaky fringe group on MCRI, check out Citizens for a United Michigan. For more info, see my somewhat outdated information page: NoBAMN.com, or if you’re new to all this check out my BAM-N Update post from January 2004.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005
Yesterday, I turned over many of my papers I accumulated during my four and a half years living in Ann Arbor to the Bentley Historical Collection at the University of Michigan.
While I have been told it will take some time before the papers are publicly available as they receive a large amount of donations I thought I would post a description of its contents.
The collection, which will be available under my name, will include the following things:
- My Course Outline and Coursepack: I have included both the initial and then supplementary coursepack for a 1-credit honors mini-course I taught Winter 2004 titled “Student Activism and Social Change at the University of Michigan“. Some of the readings are from reports and books I found in the U-M libraries, some from the Michigan Daily, and some from books in my personal collection.
- Research for Investigative Journalism Work: Including eye-opening FOIAs about the re-structuring of the Organizational Studies major, University-coordinated activities with local law enforcement officials to crack down on the Naked Mile when it was decided the tradition should be abolished, police reports from on-campus incidents involving varsity football players in the late 1990s, names of members of the secret juries that heared appeals under the University’s Code of Student Conduct, a study commissioned by University Housing regarding the future of the University-operated snack bars, and more.
- Information about Vulcan and Michigamua: Current membership information for both groups including a copy of a 2004 Vulcan publication with a member directory, and a copy of a Michigamua directory from 1997. Also included is a variety of materials accumulated about Michigamua including internal email correspondence I obtained as a reporter for the Michigan Daily, lists of members sent to me by anonymous sources, and miscellaneous other documents.
- My Thesis and Supplementary Documentation: I have included a copy of my thesis, titled Urban Renewal in Postwar Detroit: The Gratiot Area Redevelopment Project. I also include a binder of articles and other materials culled from old copies of the Michigan Chronicle and other sources in the U-M and Detroit Public Library on urban “renewal” in Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s.
- A Large Collection of BAM-N Propaganda: I have long been fascinated by the organization the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary and the cadre of Trotkite organizers who operate it. I have compiled an archive of information about them on the website NOBAMN.com, and my papers include many of that information as well as a large collection of the organization’s publications and flyers.
- ‘Inside the Daily’: I have included a printed version of my Inside the Daily series.
Why the Bentley? First, I wanted this information preserved in a public yet secure location. Most of its salient information is already replicated on this website, and although something of a conspiracy theorist I believed they would follow my wishes and make the information public. Second, as the University’s official archive their funding and future seems assured for the forseeable future. They recently expanded, and the University has a vested interest in the health and future of the archive.
Searching This WebsiteThere are three ways to find information on this website:
> First, you can conduct a simple google search by clicking here, or in google add the text “site:goodspeedupdate.com” to the end of your keywords. This method includes all the content I have posted and should be your first post.
> Second, to search in just the blog entries, use the small search box on the upper right. This does not include much of the older content like salaries or political giving.
> Third, browse by topic. On the bottom left there is a “categories” section. Most of the larger posts on the topics listed have been categorized - simply click on the subjects to browse the posts.
If you have any trouble finding anything, let me know: rob at goodspeedupdate.com
Tuesday, April 6th, 2004
Looking for a snazzy t-shirt, hoodie, pencil, or tote bag? Yes, look no farther than your local Trotskyist-dominated, dogmatic affirmative action group BAM-N, who is selling all of these and more online on their website.
Repeat after me: You can support affirmative action and not support BAM-N. In fact, virtually all do!
(Thanks to David Boyle for the sharp eye)
Sunday, March 14th, 2004
The Detroit News published an editorial last Friday alleging the University of Michigan isn’t doing enough to protect the rights of the people trying to get petition signatures to add to the state’s constitution an amendment which would end all government affirmative action programs in the state. BAM-N has launched something they’re calling “Operation King’s Dream” whose suggestions seem to test political tactics one can legitimately equate with the Civil Rights Movement, including things like “Shadowing the signature gatherers for the racist campaign. Using our First Amendment right to vociferously dissuade people considering signing on to this racist, sexist attack.” Anyone vaguely familiar with first amendment law will know there are a number of legal limitations including the right of public facilities and institutions to make time, space, and manner restrictions on speech. Here’s some from the Detroit News editorial:
“… We agree with BAMN and other opponents of the anti-affirmative action drive that the initiative is both divisive and offensive, and a setback in the state’s efforts to achieve racial equality.
Still, we respect the rights of those who are of the opposite opinion. They have a right to mount their petition drive.
MSU understands that and took swift action when BAMN invaded the Michigan State University student union, where Barbara Grutter, who sued the U-M law school for rejecting her application, was speaking. Campus police hauled the thugs away.
But U-M has done little or nothing to protect the rights of students who are working on behalf of the petition drive. Jeston La Croix, a U-M student assisting the initiative, says the group has made it virtually impossible to operate on campus, blocking access to petition tables and harassing those who stop by for information.
So far, campus police at U-M have not intervened. U-M spokesperson Julie Peterson says the university tries to manage these situations without trampling on the rights of protesters.
Everyone has rights, including the petition signature gatherers. They should be allowed to proceed with their misguided effort free from harassment and intimidation. The university has an obligation to protect the civil liberties of all students, not just the ones it agrees with. “
You might remember Jeston La Croix from last spring, when he angrly demanded the student busses to Washington D.C. funded by MSA for the rally in support of Affirmative Action during spring term be “viewpoint neutral.” I would say younger people should keep their eyes on this young conservative activist, whom seems to be sliding into the angry-college-conservative role. The whole thing to me seems like an innocent organizing mistake, blown way out of proportion by the ability of angry white men to demand the administration meet with them. Here’s a Michigan Review editorial from April 3, 2003 about last year’s snafu, titled “MSA: Majorly Sketchy Allocation":
“AFTER SITTING LESS than two weeks as a new assembly, MSA has made its first highly questionable funding allocation. After being threatened with a lawsuit by a University student at last week’s “in and out” meeting, MSA has crafted what can be construed by some as a money-laundering scheme at worst, and a waste of University dollars in times of budget crisis at best. This fiasco surrounds the 2002-2003 Assembly’s funding of buses to travel to last Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing of the lawsuits against the University’s race-based affirmative action admissions policies. Originally, $12,000 was allocated to fund four buses in conjunction with other buses being paid for by Students Supporting Affirmative Action.
The MSA buses were supposed to be issue-neutral according to the resolution passed by all but one of the representatives. Students Supporting Affi rmative Action (SSAA) was only involved because the group had reserved the buses in advance, guaranteeing a lower rate than if MSA were to secure its own buses. Thus, whether a student supported or opposed the University’s admissions policies, he or she was could travel to Washington, D.C. to witness a historic time in University history.
The problems with the buses began last week when two poorly thought-out communications from the assembly revealed a severe bias in the bus organization. First, when anyone sent an email requesting a seat on the MSA buses, they were sent
a confi rmation email reading “Dear student supporting affi rmative action” from MSA Communications Chair and SSAA leader Pete Woiwode. By not separating the bus confirmations into SSAA and MSA seats, Woiwode alienated many conservatives from riding these buses, as they either thought they had signed up for buses that were not issue-neutral or were deterred by the fact that they would be in the midst of an SSAA rally for the entire 10-hour trip. In addition to confirmation email, the composition of the email list that the buses were publicized to was also extremely biased. Groups organized in support of race based affirmative action like BAMN, SOLE and College Democrats were included on the list, while student groups opposing the University’s position on the issue like College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom were not included. In fact, the only non-left-leaning email list that received the email was msa.info at umich.edu.
This action, again by Woiwode, pushed LSA Freshman Jeston La Croix over the edge. La Croix threatened MSA at their Tuesday meeting and called a meeting with University Vice President E. Royster Harper and Dean of Students Ed Willis. Also at the meeting were new MSA President Angela Galardi (Students First-Engin.), MSA Representative Paul Scott (University Party-LSA), and former Peace and Justice Committee Chair Jackie Bray.
The University recognized La Croix’s concern as valid and requested that MSA allocate funds for additional buses to rectify the problem. Galardi agreed and said that MSA could cut into funds currently allocated to Budget Priorities Committee (BPC)
to pay the extra buses. Scott responded by saying that MSA had spent enough student dollars on this event, and opposed cutting into student group funding to “cover the butts” of SSAA leaders like Woiwode and Bray who had not recognized their own confl icts of interest in organizing the buses. Upon hearing this from Scott, Vice President Harper suggested that the University could reimburse MSA out of her “slush fund” to cover the $8000 BPC shortfall that will cover the buses.
All parties seemed to agree on this resolution of La Croix’s complaint, and after a two and a half hour emergency MSA meeting, the deal was done. While La Croix may be happy with the result, this action by the University and MSA draws a number of questions.
First, the University cannot legally pay for buses sent to lobby for a court decision in a case that it sits in as a defendant. Thus, by MSA paying for the buses, and the University paying for student group funding, a soft-core money-laundering scheme is essentially at work. Secondly, this last ditch effort, being carried forward by a campus-wide email, to allow students a chance to get to Washington will not allow enough time for students who had given up on the trip, now tied up in class commitments, to drop everything and jump on a bus.
Finally, the University faces times of budget crisis, as the state of Michigan will cut $36 million, and while $8000 is a drop in the larger bucket, it is the one-year tuition of an in-state student. “Slush funds” available to the Vice President should be going to maintain quality class size and selection that were threatened by Provost Paul Courant last week. La Croix should be commended for exposing a corrupt allocation on the part of MSA, but the University and the Assembly should hold their ground and look at the bigger picture a bit more when correcting measures, to avoid shady, back-door dealing like the new allocation.MR” (See this editorial on the Review’s site)
Monday, March 1st, 2004
At the University of Michigan, an unpopular and sectarian political organization that has co-opted affirmative action activism almost entirely, apparently will the full knowledge and tacit cooperation of the administration. The campus, like the main character in Memento, seems to suffer from a profound amnesia - stubbornly unable to hold any idea in its collective memory for more than a few semesters. Constantly, I see in the newspaper upperclassmen who complain of the latest stunt of BAM-N, saying they were in support of affirmative action until the latest incident. (Most recently February 17) These people are apparently ignorant as to how our local campus politics are connected to a larger political picture and unable to concieve of a position in support of affirmative action outside the limited rhetoric of BAM-N.
This unfortunate reality leads to two questions in my mind: first, has the intellectual and political culture of campus been any different? Can we reasonably expect a constantly changing group of 18 to 22 year olds, most of whom will spend around four years as students, to maintain a somewhat sophisticated political discourse? No matter the answer to that question, it leads me to a second question: can it be any different? The cynic in me might have said no, but I think the efforts of myself and others have been at least somewhat successful. However, is this simply an anomaly? Is the inevitable state of affairs one where Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, and George Washington mascaraed as the legitimate spokespeople for much more than their true narrow interests as members of the Revolutionary Workers League? Can a more sophisticated political discussion on campus and in our nation take place or will our generation be doomed to McPolitics where New Democratic Liberals sit politely on panels where anachronistic elements of America’s fringe left pretend to speak for students?
Also: some of the signers of the petition I started have interesting things to say. While I certainly don’t agree with some of them, it’s worth your time.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2004
Detroit’s Metrotimes has picked up a BAM-N press release in an entry in their news hits section reporting that a Michigan-based KKK organization has “Endorsed” the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, or the proposal connected to University of California Regent Ward Connerly that would ban all forms of public affirmative action in the state. The MCRI has been opposed by a broad coalition of organizations and businesses in the state including both the Democratic and Republican parties, and the lead organization opposing it is called Citizens for a United Michigan.
Other articles of note:
Tuesday, January 27th, 2004
A former member of the ostensibly pro-affirmative action group BAM-N has contacted me, the third or forth to do so since I launched noBAMN.com. This has reminded me exactly how important it is to reiterate the nature of this divisive organization. First, I should explain that I became interested in BAM-N because I support affirmative action and was frustrated by this organization: not only did they publicize a narrowly conceived message, they do not work with the vast majority of student organizations on campus, and in student government use unnecessary and hostile tactics to generate conflict at virtually every opportunity. (Since then the influence of BAM-N and their political wing DAAP has shrunk significantly after the concerted effort of a number of concerned students.) It should be noted that in response to the U-M admissions lawsuits reaching the Supreme Court last year, I was lucky enough to be involved in an amazing multiethnic coalition of students called Students Supporting Affirmative Action who came together to bring students to Washington, D.C., conduct education work on campus, and also coordinate the student response when the decision was announced. A quick investigation revealed the reason why the organization was so undemocratic and dogmatic was because it was run by a small cadre of militant Trotskyists. (Meaning followers of the Russian socialist Leon Trotsky, as opposed to Marxists, Stalinists, or Maoists, among others.)
Ok, I’ll rewind a bit. Contrary to popular belief, there actually is a left wing politics in America. This handy chart will help you navigate the myriad of organizations populating the fringes of the political spectrum. Basically, what’s important to note is that ever since the Russian revolution in 1917, many leftist organizations have splintered again and again, the Revolutionary Workers League (the people behind BAM-N) believe there will come a mass militant revolution at some point in the future, and they are working towards this outcome through various and sundry issues. Sound like they don’t quite get it? You’re exactly right: these people not only have (in my view) warped political views, but their organizations often more closely resemble religious cults than democratic organizations. From this point of view, here’s an interesting description of them I found on the web:
“Revolutionary Workers League: Formed in 1976 as a split from the Spartacist League, the RWL is a dogmatic and intensely militant Trotskyist group based in Detroit. Little is seen of them outside of Michigan and California state, and (like the Spartacist League) they demand the devotion of all their members. They have set up a network of puppet organizations: the National Women’s Rights Organizing Committee (NWROC, founded 1980’s), the Committee to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN, founded 1995), and others. These front groups are where the RWL’s primary activism takes place. They often practice entryism entering larger organizations and trying to bend them toward their own ideology. The most recent case of this occurred in Oakland, California (far from their home base), where BAMN supporters tried to take over the local teachers’ union, the OEA. A group that split with the RWL during the Gulf War, the Trotskyist League, would break from the RWL’s traditional entryism and work with Solidarity and other groups, though maintaining their ultra-left stance. No matter what group they enter, RWL will never win many converts to their extreme tactics.”
And so, what does this have to do with BAM-N, you ask? First, all the key organizers are members of this odd Detroit-based political organization. Their names might seem familiar: Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, Miranda Massie, George Washington, Lee Felarca, Shanta Driver, etc. None of these people are now or have ever been U-M students, and none (to my knowledge) live in Ann Arbor. Yes, the truth is stranger than fiction - you’ll see them quoted representing various causes, but they all make the work of the RWL their primary activity. On campus, these people hold meetings attended by students and sometimes even recruit student members, but the decisions are always being made by Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, and the leadership of BAM-N. This is why BAMN@umich.edu goes to more non-student email addresses than student email addresses.
Finally, the person who wrote to me is a former member and former student. This is what they write:
“I was a member of BAMN. They did teach me a lot about affirmative action. However, I became weary of their refusal to join with any student run organizations, their refusal to compromise, and the general feeling that BAMN was really nothing more than an RWL recruiting organization. Affirmative action wasn’t the real concern…a future revolution was. I felt I was being used to promote their cause, not the cause I signed on to. And because I believe in social democracy, I was limited in my role within the organization. They kept me on because I was good spin.”
The letter writer continues:
“The reason BAMN member’s speeches all sound the same is that the speaker is hand selected by Luke, Caroline, and the RWL Also, the topics of the speakers are selected by Luke, Caroline and the RWL. Finally, the speeches are reviewed and changes are made by Luke, Caroline, and the RWL.
2. Members are encouraged to “vote” on issues but dissention is frowned upon. The dissentor is then argued with until his mind can be changed (brainwashed/ forced.)
3. People are selected based on how marginalized they feel on campus (lesbians, single parents, students of color.) They are reeled into the cause (women’s issues, affirmative action, poverty…) and then if the member of whatever front organization he may have joined shows promise Caroline or other RWL members start holding “one on one sessions,” at which time said person is given communist lessons. Later the person is asked what he thinks of joining the RWL.
4. If the person declines the invitation to join the RWL, his role within the front organization falls dramatically. … “
Finally, why BAM-N? The Black Action Movement (BAM) was a series of protests and strikes organized by black students at the University of Michigan in 1970, 1975, and 1987 - and count among the most important and well organized student protests in recent U.S. History. The BAM strikes won a number of important concessions from the University administration, including multicultural lounges, the Center for African and African-American Studies (CAAS), affirmative action in admissions, and support for all types of students. What do they have to do with a small group of dogmatic Trotskyists from Detroit? Nothing - that’s why I type and say BAM-N (pronounced “BAM” and “N") - to indicate the difference between these organizations.
Also, there’s no connection between the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. You should go to the event Wednesday to learn more about them.
> See my post about RWL/BAM-N activities in London
Saturday, September 13th, 2003
Leave it to the British to handle their radical politics thoroughly: according to this South London newspaper, the government antagonized by Luke Massie has compiled a 145 page “dossier” of RWL/BAM-N:
“It alleges they are involved with US-based organisations the Revolutionary Workers’ League and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).
It claims the groups have targeted several American institutions, including universities and a teacher union, using racist labels to freeze debate or to isolate and undermine individuals. …”
Tuesday, August 26th, 2003
‘Michigan is at the center of it all’
The Detroit News ran a lengthy piece today about the anticipation leading up to the admissions policy the University is expected to release, if the newspaper is to be believed, this week. The university plans to apply the new policy for the class entering January 2004. However, were there’s smoke, opportunistic Trotskyite organizers aren’t far behind:
“Luke Massie, a national leader for Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), said groups like his, which have organized students in support of affirmative action, will be closely monitoring the new system.
“The legal basis of affirmative action was strengthened by the Supreme Court,” Massie said. “What the new civil rights movement will be demanding of U-M and other institutions is that there be no drop in the number of minority students.”
Officials said they strive to enroll a student body that is academically excellent and diverse, something that will not change. But enrollment of specific groups varies from year to year depending on the characteristics of the applicant pool.
Meanwhile, the article interviews one person who seems to have put their finger on an important issue. The points system was a secret until a FOIA request by Carl Cohen forced the University to make it public, and the result of the supreme court striking it down is that the University can create a new, secret policy. One positive outcome of the lawsuit is that everybody knew exactly what the policy was, although I find it hard to believe the FOIA requests won’t quickly follow the announcement of a new policy:
“"For critics of affirmative action, this might be worse,” said Samuel Issacharoff, a Columbia University law professor who represented the University of Texas in a case that temporarily banned the use of affirmative action in Texas.
“One of the odd things about the two decisions is that they reward nontransparency,” Issacharoff said. “The undergraduate admissions program had transparency. This is a consequence … they now won’t be able to easily ascertain what they’re doing.”
> From Det. News: “U-M readies new policy”
Friday, August 1st, 2003
I have been notified by a friend in the U.K. that two members of the Revolutionary Workers’ League / BAM-N - Jodi-Marie Masley and Luke Massie - have been active in a controversial legal case in the U.K. The people behind the RWL have been rightfully discredited for their behaviour in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, and seem to be continuing the same tactics of violence and intimidation. My friend writes: “In my view BAM-N are deploying profoundly cyncial tactics, including the manipulation of a local mouthpiece, to incite racial tension and to raise the profile of racial inequality. Racial inequality is a terrible thing which should be eliminated. The methods being deployed are not good.” Here is an excerpt from a local news article:
“At the hearing, Ms Boardman also claimed she had been threatened by Luke Massie, one of Mr Owolade’s legal team.
She said: “He said they would target me and my family until I went or Alex Owolade was let back in. His approach felt very threatening - he physically pinned me in a corner near the entrance door.”
Mr. Massie denied either pinning her to the wall or mentioning her family.”
> From this article in a South London paper
> See also this excellent column about BAMN’s tactics by Nathan Newman, a blogger and journalist in the U.S.: Hijacking of the Affirmative Action Movement
> If you are new to this website, see my domain www.nobamn.com for background information