The Klan makes a choice 

News Hits would like to give the members of the Mystic Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s Michigan chapter a big bear hug. But since we only know of them through their Web site (the modern equivalent of a white-hooded sheet), we are resigned to publicly thanking them for their recent endorsement of the deceptively named Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI). The initiative is a proposed ballot measure that attempts to rid our state of affirmative-action programs. The fact that the KKK is heartily endorsing this proposal speaks volumes about its merit and intent, say critics. Or, to coin a phrase, with friends like you, who needs Jesse Helms?

“I believe affirmative action is wrong!” wrote KKK Grand Kleagle Phil Lawson, who issued the written statement supporting the proposal on the group’s Michigan Web site, (“Kleagle” is klanspeak for muckety-muck.) Lawson, who, by the way, capitalized the word “white” throughout his statement — perhaps equating white with God — encouraged Michigan voters to sign the MCRI petition. About 318,000 signatures must be collected by July 6 to place the initiative on the November ballot.

Both the initiative and the petition, however, ask voters to support the prohibition of “preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin” at all state entities, including universities.

Who in their right mind would oppose such a seemingly well-intended proposal? Obviously, not Michigan’s Klansmen.

Which — according to Luke Massie, the national co-chair of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a civil rights group that formed as a result of attacks on the University of Michigan affirmative-action programs — is about all you need to know about the initiative’s real intent.

BAMN sued the State Board of Canvassers in Ingham County Circuit Court earlier this month for allowing the petition drive to go forward. The group argues that the petition must include the specific law it seeks to alter, such as, in this case, the constitution’s equal protection clause. Massie says MCRI failed to do that.

The lawsuit doesn’t bother Tim O’Brien, MCRI campaign manager, who says it is a frivolous attempt to prevent citizens from voting on the initiative, which he believes will “win overwhelmingly.”

As for the Klan’s endorsement, O’Brien says he doesn’t think it will have any impact one way or the other.

Uh, Tim, have you ever heard of the term “backlash”?

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or

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