Tim Asher of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative points out in the Missouri Record that there are a number of out of state groups attempting to block efforts to end race and gender based discrimination by state government.
Other groups from outside the state are welcome to play a role, Asher says. In the end, it is Missourians who approve by petition initiatives and then vote the ballot measure up or down.
The problem here is that MoCRI opponents criticize the effort as one orchestrated by outside influences. In fact, it is their side that is more heavily influenced by outside forces, like the radical group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) from Michigan. Clearly there is some hypocrisy going on.
Living in Columbia at the time of last cycle’s petition drive, I had a chance to observe some of BAMN’s people. One young agitator was especially noxious – he was clearly a ringleader, and he was from Michigan. I know because I asked someone who had traveled with him.
At an MU campus rally, this individual rallied dozens of students by yelling and repeatedly hurling racially-charged personal insults at Ward Connerly and anybody who supported the petition.
Later, I encountered this same person in front of the post office, where I was exercising my civic rights by inviting my fellow Missourians to sign the petition. This agitator confronted me and harassed anybody who even looked like they might want to learn more.
As I prepared to move to another spot, the activist approached me. We exchanged words. Fire flashed in his eyes, and I genuinely considered the possibility that I might be assaulted right in front of the post office. I don’t say that haphazardly. If you saw this guy behaving the way he did in a bar or on a street corner, you would instinctively be alarmed and stay away.
I was born and raised in Missouri. Have lived here most of my life and in a number of places around the state, and I love its people and places. I got involved because I care about the issue. This paid thug came from 600 miles away to intimidate Missourians and poison the public discourse.
So then, I loudly second what Tim Asher is saying: you can come from out of state to be involved with our democratic process here in Missouri, just don’t criticize the other side for that which you yourselves are guilty of.