Last week the Grand Rapids Press ran an editorial opposing Proposal 2, the November referendum to end race- and sex-based preferences in college admissions, state jobs, and government contracts. Yesterday it ran a story announcing that a white supremacist group, the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, supports Proposal 2. Below the headline "Photo shows Proposal 2's extremist ties, say critics", the Press displayed a photograph of the CCC's chairman, John Raterink, shaking the hand of Ward Connerly, the leader of a state-by-state anti-racial preference campaign that put Proposal 2 on the ballot.
Whatever ones thinks of Proposal 2, the article is a cheap shot against it and the founder of the movement behind it that hardly amounts to news. The basis for the story is nothing more than the waving of the bloody shirt by a local opponent of Proposal 2 who found the photograph of Raterink and Connerly on the CCC's website. As it turns out, Connerly was shaking hands of supporters of Proposal 2 at a public event, one of whom was Raterink who asked to have his picture taken with Connerly. Connerly states that he didn't know who Raterink was or his association with the CCC at the time the photograph was taken. Anyone familiar with politics knows these sort of embarrassing photos pop up all the time, because politicians shake hands with everyone.
It hardly amounts to "extremist ties", as the Press declared, between the campaign to pass Proposal 2 and some pathetic bigots who happen to support it. Moreover, absent from the Press has been coverage of the radical group "By Any Means Necessary" that has used racial intimidation, state agencies, and the courts to try to deny Michiganders even the opportunity to vote for or against Proposal 2. Having failed to stop Proposal 2 from getting on the ballot, the group has resorted to hooliganism at debates on the measure to silence its proponents.
That's actually news. It's serious when a group like "By Any Means Necessary" employs brown-shirt tactics to derail an election. As loathsome as Raterink and his crew of racists are, at least none of them are trying to monkey-wrench the democratic process. Yet, there's no similar story in the Press about how opponents to Proposal 2 have "extremist ties". It appears that the Press is not able to contain its opposition to Proposal 2 to the editorial page and has let it spill into the news section by acts of both commission and omission.