October 27, 2008
"...we will not go down without a fight. We will not be that minority group that disappears because people choose not to understand us. It's really just that simple. This is why we fight."
By Ryan Evans
At the end of last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Cigar Freedom Tour down in Milwaukee. While I am a cigar nut and wouldn't have missed this for the world, a much more important aspect of the event became very apparent to me while I was there.
We heard impassioned speeches from state legislators and cigar shop owners who oppose smoking bans - but we also heard very impassioned speeches from the "legends." These are the owners of the cigar manufacturers who came up to not only meet us, but to talk about the assault on our freedoms. Many of them are immigrants who talked about their families fleeing persecution and communism so they could run their businesses and live the American dream.
But they also talked about how the American dream that they worked so hard for is being eaten away and the very things that they fled from are now being used against them once more.
I don't recall for sure, but I'm pretty sure that Ernesto Reyes jr. said that we cannot be known as the only minority group to go down without a fight, And you know what? He's right!
After the speeches, I spoke to one of the state senators who attended the event and also gave a great speech - cigar in hand - about our rights and freedom in Wisconsin and how Wisconsin is different. We discussed the event and why it was so important. The event was a cross-section of people. You could not identify them by race, color, creed, age or economic status. There were no common elements in the crowd save for one: the love of a lifestyle that is under attack. Everybody there - and I would dare to say that there were as many women as men - had a cigar in one hand, a drink in the other, and a big smile on their face as they made their way through the crowd and talked to people around them. This was truly an event that drew people who loved the lifestyle. But it also showed that there is a delicate situation here. Cigar smokers are a small group of Americans who come from all walks of life. Though small, their freedom should not be allowed to fall through the cracks.
We cannot let this happen!
History has shown that people fear, and often times hate that which they fail to understand. Care to talk to an anti-smoking advocate and ask them about the people who would attend a cigar smoking event? I would bet that they have no idea what happens there or why there was such a large draw.
They do not see why so many people from so many different backgrounds and classes would come together to enjoy one another's company. They fail to see the love of the thing - and that scares them.
So this is where we stand. We are fighting for the love of a thing - something that binds us together into a group of seemingly unrelated people who simply share the common enjoyment of a smoke. Is this really that different than other minority (or even majority) groups? Is this different from religion? From race fans? From car collectors? No, it's not.
We will not go down without a fight. We will not be that minority group that disappears because people choose not to understand us. It's really just that simple. This is why we fight.