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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ward Connerly Sponsors Sneaky Initiative to End Affirmative Action in Colorado

Colorado Petition Draws Charges of Deception

DENVER — Freddie Whitney was walking out of a King Soopers supermarket here this winter when she was approached by three young men.

They politely asked if she was against discrimination and, if so, if she would sign a petition that would legally end the practice in the state. After scanning it briefly, Ms. Whitney, a 78-year-old African-American, signed it.

A few weeks later, Ms. Whitney says, she was shocked to learn from a local newspaper that she had unwittingly lent her support to a ballot measure called the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative that seeks to eliminate state programs that give preferential treatment to minorities and women.

The proposal is part of a larger effort organized by the conservative advocate Ward Connerly, whose group, the American Civil Rights Coalition, is seeking to disassemble affirmative action in five states this year: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

“My reaction was, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done?’ ” Ms. Whitney said. “I have children and grandchildren who have benefited from affirmative action.”

Several dozen Coloradans, some of them members of minorities, say they were deceived into signing the petitions under the guise of ending discrimination, and have complained to Colorado Unity, a coalition of civil rights groups that is fighting Mr. Connerly’s efforts.

Mr. Connerly, a former regent of the University of California, maintains that it is entirely accurate to present the measure as “ending discrimination,” and that the public has not been misled.

“It is not fraudulent when a person says they believe an initiative will achieve certain results and the opponents happen to disagree,” Mr. Connerly said. “Affirmative action is an amorphous term. It means different things to different people.”
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Is there any shame in their game that they have to go about their mission deceptively?

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