MCRI seeks to end discrimination, not affirmative

To the Daily:

There’s more than a patina of irony in your editorial,
which accuses the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative of
“misleading” Michiganders with a petition using
“manipulative language” in an attempt to “ban
affirmative action” (Lost in translation, 3/23/04).
This piece missed an acute distinction imperative to understanding
MCRI’s intent.

You correctly claim that the petition language fails to even
mention “affirmative action,” and then you conclude
that it therefore misleads. Your conclusion, however, is based on
an explicit and incorrect assumption: that the goal of the petition
is to “ban affirmative action.” Banning affirmative
action surely is not the goal of the MCRI petition, which is why
“affirmative action” is absent.

Enter the acute distinction. A noble, honorable policy,
affirmative action at its inception allowed for forward steps (or
affirmative action) to be taken to prevent discrimination — a
showing of partiality or prejudice in treatment. Yet over the
decades since the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the
definition of affirmative action has been hijacked by those who
favor showing partiality and preference in treatment. For example,
today the application of what many coin “affirmative
action” aims to provide preferential treatment (of minority
groups or individuals) rather than prevent discrimination against
such individuals. There’s a difference. MCRI seeks not to ban
affirmative action; rather it endeavors to abrogate discrimination,
or “preferential treatment,” on the basis of
“race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin,”
which is explicitly stated on the MCRI petition. Thus MCRI would
not ban affirmative action, but rather promote its native

A slightly less acetic fault, your editorial also suggests that
the MCRI petition hides the fact that it would, if ultimately
successful, amend the Michigan Constitution. This claim and others
unchallenged here suggest that the writers of your editorial have
not yet read the MCRI petition they criticize. The first words on
the petition, in bold, read “A Proposal to amend the Michigan
Constitution … ”

A collection of a sufficient number of signatures by MCRI will
allow the issue of “preferences” (i.e. not affirmative
action) to be on the 2004 Michigan ballot so that Michiganders can
vote on the issue, ultimately fulfilling the duties we hold as
proud members of the American democracy.

Lastly, it is interesting that you freely assert that
“misleading language” is often used in petitions to
“confuse some voters,” but you fail to mention that it
is standard operating procedure for opponents of petitions to file
lawsuits claiming “misleading language” in order to
stall a petitioning effort in court.

Steve Erisch


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *