I’m a 7th generation native of Fort Collins, CO. As a city, a mid-size town in my youth, it has always been an example of what other cities should endeavor to be. We have been in 37 states and truly Fort Collins is a great place. Until you get into the social issues. Social issues are divisive because they are personal issues, not issues of government. Social issues become the agenda of special interest groups and activists. These do not further the interests, public health, public safety or economy of any locality. In my book at, Beers with our Founding Fathers, this is discussed in specific detail in various chapters, connecting the cause and effect of social issues. Please take a look at the website and previews at www.BeersWithOurFoundingFathers.com.
Racism. It’s a word that is over used, albeit mostly with the best of intentions. Racism exists and it always will. Just like rape, murder, shoplifting and fraud – racism is perpetuated by human nature. Much of what we see in racism is environmental and in groups, much less than seen in individuals. A little racism in an individual grows exponentially in groups. I could cite various examples just from our travels. Racism knows no limits. Racism – more accurately prejudice – is blind to race, sex, religion, sexual preference, intellect or any other personal traits for which a person is born. Unfortunately, if a person or group has an agenda or feels wronged – the race card is played before the information and facts play out. Assumptions that are actually based more on intrapersonal racism than that of their new target. Racism is bi-directional – there is no ‘reverse’ discrimination. Moreover, racism has been perpetuated by many asserting to rid of it, while others have created further racism through efforts to eliminate it. Our history is filled with racism – that cannot be changed, it’s a sad and painful period of our history. To pretend we, as a country and society, have not made great strides and gains is to be either blind, ignorant or racist. Its really as simple as that.
So, what was the impetus for this blog? A restaurant’s name. Not just any name – but one with the dreaded ‘I’ word in it – ILLEGAL; specifically, ‘Illegal Name’ (sorry, not plugging a restaurant – it is the owner’s first name). This is not new. In the much more socialist – or so we thought – Boulder, just south, there are not one, or two – but five of these so named restaurants, founded in 1996 – 18 years ago. No one has complained…ever…about the name. But, now that he wants to open a restaurant in the open-minded Fort Collins, he faces resistance and demands to change the name. I hope he does not cave in. Who are the people primarily protesting? Activists who are offended for those victimized by the name and the blanket inference in the use of the ‘I’ word as racist. Illegal is not racist, nor is its use. I’ll save detailing the full history of the restaurant and name. His menu consists of ethnic food from the Mission District of San Francisco – Mexican. I love Mexican food! The claim is the Mission District is hispanic. True, it has a deep historical culture and ancestry from Mexico – it was part of Mexico. However, I have a relative that lives in the district and happened to speak to him after this. The district has changed over the years and is presently better known for the gay and lesbian culture. On social networks were some varied discussions of this – some surprised me, such as a liberal calling this a bullying tactic by the activists, and another liberal being ‘offended for those that live south of our border’. It went on, and had I known this blog was going to happen, I would have copied some of his more pointless quotes before the host deleted them – The activist simply would not provide a basis for his position, other than he was offended for a group of people. As we often see – those demanding tolerance have none.
You cannot be offended for someone – only yourself, and those you are related to or part of as a common group. You cannot be offended solely based on an agenda and being an activist. Bluntly, a white person cannot be offended for a person of a different race in a different city or state. None of this is to say you are not offended. It is to simply say you do not have standing to be offended as if part of the protected class (side note – ‘protected’ is also overused, we are all equal; but, I understand the usage). To be offended for someone is to imply they are not capable of recognizing when they are offended. In a free market economy, I firmly believe that a business can thrive or fail on its own by the decisions and actions of its proprietors. There is now that social agenda line of forcing someone to serve against their personal beliefs. Refusing service is not the same as a business name. Should a business be able to refuse service to someone? Perhaps to display their ignorance and failure, sure. Sort of a public service announcement exposing those with prejudices. Then you have someone protecting their own protected beliefs, such as religion. How does that play out – when both sides of an issue have legitimate protections? I think that is an individual choice. Right or wrong, its not prejudice such as we see in outright racism. Succinctly, they are both protected classes, and one cannot be prejudiced against to protect another. A conundrum, for sure. This is not the same as the days before the Civil Rights Era, a defining period in our Country. At that time it was one protected class being refused, or segregated, based solely on their race; there was no inclusion of another protected class – such as religion. In the former you have a business refusing service based on a customer’s race; and in the latter you have a business refusing service based on their religious belief that does not recognize a person’s sexual preference. There are only three choices (operative word – choices): 1) the business refuses to serve the customer; 2) the customer refuses to patronize the business; or 3) differences are set aside because there is a mutual need and benefit. Of course the common sense choice exists, but so does the individual choice of both. Patronizing a business is a choice not born of necessity, whereas employment or housing are choices based on necessity. Should choices be legislated and protected? With both come unintended consequences. If one does not wish the beliefs of another imposed upon them, then they should be conscious of their own actions.
I am a legal investigator and expert consultant by profession. In my personal life I consider myself very open and welcoming, with boundaries but not prejudices. My early childhood and background are varied in experiences and exposure. We are not born with prejudices, but we do ‘learn’ them from childhood through life. We learn, accept or reject our preferences and prejudices. Its human nature, right or wrong. Imagine our success if we accepted and rejected clients and assignments based on any criteria irrelevant to the case. Imagine our reputation if we held any prejudices? We would have declined cases from every (or almost) sex, race, religion, marital status, sexual preference, age, etc. We would not have lasted 27 years, personally or professionally. Similar to my disdain for prejudice, I am not in favor of preferences – including ‘reverse’ discrimination.
In our effort to create a utopia, we have further divided ourselves and our Country. We have gone from a melting pot to a melted pot. If we each made better decisions at a personal level there would be no need for rules and regulations of what are really choices – good or bad. Our actions, as history has taught us, can be the impetus for positive change and better choices.
The restaurant in Fort Collins will likely open under its original and intended name. It will face protests. It will have customers. People will choose to patronize, or not, the restaurant. It will thrive or fail based on its ability to be part of the community. Let us move forward with an open mind.
From my commentary on the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jrl (02/10/2013) – “The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and others before and after him, is not civil rights alone. It was much bigger than that - it was the fight against tyranny and oppression through corruption. Those that have followed in the footsteps they cannot fill have lost that. You can pick up where he left off. He emphasized rights for all - not a few or a group - all rights for all people.”
For additional and previous commentary, please visit the following:
Is Racism Class Warfare?
Is Racism Class Warfare? Adapted from the book chapter, “Bigotry, Class Warfare and Tactics of Divisiveness More Exploitation of America
(originally posted 07/17/2014 at http://www.beerswithourfoundingfathers.com/blog---author-thoughts/divide-and-conquer-from-racism-to-refugees)
Divide and Conquer - from Racism to Refugees
Divide and Conquer - from Racism to Refugees Put another way, “A house divided cannot stand”. This month is the 50th
(originally posted 07/23/2013 at http://www.beerswithourfoundingfathers.com/blog---author-thoughts/is-racism-class-warfare)
You can order Beers with Our Founding Fathers at www.beerswithourfoundingfathers.com/order.html
Dean A. Beers
Author and speaker