This group is regularly quoted in the media in opposition to the MCRI, as in this recent article. However, the media never seems to explain exactly who this organization is and what it stands for. Awhile back, I decided to do some digging and see what I could find out about this group.
Scouring the headlines, one soon notices that BAMN is associated with radical and controversial tactics. They have filed numerous lawsuits in state and federal court attempting to prevent voters from having their say on the measure. These suits have consistently been rejected as baseless and without merit.
When the state Board of Canvassers was considering the measure, BAMN bussed in protesters from Detroit. They staged a riot at the meeting, overturning tables and yelling slogans. They succeeding in sabotaging the meeting, but a state court ordered the measure onto the ballot and held in contempt the Democratic commissioners who refused to follow the law.
Incidentally, when BAMN similarly bussed in a gang of thugs from Detroit to protest an earlier meeting, they took the opportunity to loot a Lansing convenience store.
BAMN also apparently engaged in an effort to stage the "fraud" which has been widely used as an argument against the MCRI. They publicly intimidated signers of the petition in an effort to scare up allegations of fraud. They ended up getting a Clinton-appointed federal judge to go along with their allegations.
REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS LEAGUE
A deeper investigation turns up even more disturbing information about BAMN. The FBI has investigated BAMN for terrorist activities. Who exactly is BAMN?
The answer: BAMN is a front group for a Trotskyist communist political party called the Revolutionary Workers League.
For anyone not versed in the history of communism, Leon Trotsky was a chief disciple of Vladimir Lenin who took part in the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. He assisted Lenin in imposing socialism on Russia and murdering millions of innocent Russians. Following Lenin's death, he lost a power struggle to another of Lenin's confidants, Joseph Stalin. He was forced to flee Russia and spent years on the run before finally being murdered by one of Stalin's agents in Mexico.
Trotskyism is one of the major variations of Marxism. The Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) is a small Trotskyist political party. This page provides background information about the history of the group. (Scroll down.) It is a communist splinter group.
Searching for information about the group turns up an old Geocities site that appears to have been abandoned. It declares:
REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS LEAGUE HOME PAGEIts logo features the classic hammer-and-sickle intertwined with the number '4'. Wikipedia describes this as the symbol of the Troskyist Fourth International.
You've reached the web site of the Revolutionary Workers League, U.S. sympathizing section of the International Trotskyist Committee (ITC).
The site features a broken link to the International Trotskyist Committee. Its "Current Campaigns" page features a number of front groups including BAMN, the Fighting Workers Slate '97, and my favorite, the Homeless Power Union. Its Areas of Organizing page features the ever-popular "Anti-Fascist Campaigns" along with "The Fight Against Racism." This page has a link to "Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary." This page has pictures of early BAMN rallies. The website also contains a manifesto entitled "Socialism and Black Liberation: A Statement by a Black Revolutionary from the Revolutionary Workers League."
RWL also had a newer version of its website at this address: http://www.rwl-us.org/. When I originally investigated BAMN, this was a functioning website with similar but more up-to-date material, along with listing BAMN as amongst its campaigns. The site seems to have been taken down, and the domain has been taken over by a web-ad company. Searching for this site turns up Google caches of a few documents from the site, including this partial history of trotskyism.
BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY
But how do we really know that BAMN is affiliated with RWL? In this section, I am indebted to the research of moderately liberal blogger Rob Goodspeed, who formerly attended the University of Michigan. He has complied a page of information on BAMN.
Goodspeed has written a report criticizing BAMN which provides significant evidence that BAMN is a front for RWL. In addition, he has assembled a sheet documenting the extensive overlap between RWL's various fronts and proving that the same people run RWL and BAMN. He has also assembled a list of links to news stories documenting BAMN's activities over the years.
A recent article in Front Page Magazine confirms some of this information.
One of RWL/BAMN's leaders, Luke Massie, confirmed to an acquaintance of mine that he is a Trotskyist.
Before its current activities in Michigan, BAMN had an affiliate in Berkeley, California during the years when Proposition 209, the model for the MCRI, was a hot issue. Examining its activities there provides more interesting information. This page contains a list of links to BAMN's activities in California.
Interestingly, BAMN's activities included disrupting another pro-affirmative action group. They also tried to take over a local teachers union. BAMN has a long history of using violence in pursuit of its goals.
So what is BAMN really up to? Goodspeed's theory, which I find likely, is that BAMN's agenda has nothing to do with "affirmative action." Instead, RWL is following the time-tested communist tactic of creating front groups to draw in unsuspecting people who they can use to do their work for them and attempt to radicalize and recruit to the Trotskyist cause.
For this to succeed, it needs to be the only available option for pro-affirmative action activism, which explains its attempts to disrupt other such groups.
BAMN has had a fair amount of success in getting support from "mainstream" liberal groups. With the exception of a few liberal bloggers, the left seems to have adopted a united front attitude--that is, no group on the left will ever be criticized.
A search of the website of One United Michigan, the "mainstream" anti-MCRI group, shows no condemnation of BAMN. BAMN receives only a few (relatively favorable) mentions in copied news articles.
To my knowledge, the information about BAMN's communist affiliations has never appeared in a mainstream media newspaper in Michigan (I'm not counting college newspapers). I have seen the group mentioned dozens, if not hundreds, of times. These references are usually neutral or favorable. Why doesn't the vaunted watchdog press expose this group for what it is?
If the MCRI were secretly being sponsored by David Duke, you can bet that the media would make sure that this was reported far and wide. As it is, opponents of the MCRI have attempted to demonize the supporters of the MCRI as a bunch of Californians. As I have written, it's not true, but that's another story.
It doesn't appear the BAMN has succeeded in recruiting many members to RWL. But they are having a real impact on the debate over racial preferences in Michigan. If Michigan had the liberal activist judges of New Jersey or Massachusetts, BAMN may well have succeeded in stopping the people from having their say.
Of course, Trotskyists aren't likely to take over Michigan any time soon. But thanks to the media and liberal organizations, they are having a real political impact in Michigan. It would seem that liberals have no problem with that.