One of the more entertaining aspects of our pluralistic society is that each and every faction can have its time in the limelight, its 15 minutes of fame trying to convert the masses before slipping into the political background.
It can be good for a hoot, but it does have a downside, particularly for the auto industry.
In our increasingly divisive red-state/blue-state frame of mind, there is a growing tendency by right-wing and left-wing activists to think you can cure the world's ills by punishing an automaker.
Boycotts aren't new, but there seems to be renewed interest in the tactic. It must be a fashion thing, like the width of your lapels or the length of your hemline.
Two weeks ago, the American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., launched a boycott of Ford Motor Co., claiming Ford promotes a "homosexual agenda."
What does Ford do wrong? The company was targeted because it tries to treat its gay employees the same way it treats others, and because the company tries to sell cars and trucks to gay consumers.
What a load of crap! That's exactly what companies are supposed to do, no matter how you feel about issues such as gay marriage.
Why would Ford want to discriminate against gays? Federal law requires even-handed treatment of employees, and shareholders demand the company make every sale it can.
The boycott only lasted about a week because a group of Ford dealers convinced the conservative group that it would hurt dealers more than the automaker.
No sooner was that one put on hold (the group has vowed to revisit this in December) than another group, the National Hispanic Legal Defense and Education Center, is trying to organize a boycott of General Motors dealerships beginning next month.
Well, it turns out that the owner of a Buick dealership in Phoenix is a vocal supporter of Proposition 200, a state ballot initiative approved last November. Proposition 200 requires people to prove their citizenship when applying for some state benefits and imposes a $750 fine for bureaucrats who do not report undocumented immigrants/illegal aliens (I'll let you decide on the right descriptor).
The group's president believes GM is vulnerable because of its weakened market share and because of its marketing programs aimed at Hispanics. He wants publicity for his cause and figures boycotting GM will draw national attention to it.
But what does he realistically think GM will do? Terminate the dealer?
¡Que crap! That's like cutting off your nose to spite your face, no matter how you feel about issues such as the economic impact of immigrants and what their status should be.
Before they get too carried away, boycott organizers ought to consider the number of Hispanics who work for GM, its suppliers and in GM dealerships. Think about how they'll be hurt if a boycott gains traction.
Maybe Hispanic GM dealers will talk them out of it.
Whether they're right-wingers of left-wingers, political activists need to remember that when it comes to boycotts, there is often a great deal of economic collateral damage.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at