I'm really struggling with this news. Because I'm literally sick to my stomach as I type these words: Two people with a high profile in the Oregon cannabis industry may be white supremacists, or to be more clear, neo-Nazis.
Noelle Crombie of the Oregonian writes today that Bethany Sherman and her partner (and father of her children) Matthew L. Combs, both listed as owners of Eugene-based cannabis testing lab OG Analytical, are members of a white power hate group.
Sherman released a very sad and troubling statement today against the charges brought to light by Eugene Antifa, wherein she rails against... lots of things. In part, she states:
"I find it extremely disconcerting that it is admired and revered to have 'gay pride,' 'black pride,' 'Asian pride, or pride in any other cultural heritage, but if you have 'white pride' it automatically makes you a Nazi, and you are ostracized, attacked, and lynched by your community. I admit, I am proud that I am white, and I'm not ashamed of my heritage. And I admit that I have been so conditioned to feel shame about this pride that I discreetly sought community where I could.(Idea: Maybe don't use the language "lynched by your community" when defending your white supremacy.)
"Knowing the potential ramifications of my actions, I did my best to keep them incredibly discreet," she said, adding that she did not disclose her views to her co-workers.
I've attended parties the couple has thrown, been at the same fundraisers, and hugged and laughed with Sherman numerous times. I've worked with OG Analytical at cannabis events, and at no point, ever, even for a moment, did any aspect of this vile, disgusting, hate-filled rhetoric come up. Granted, we discussed family, cannabis, and industry trends, so there was never a natural segue to ask, "So, do you ever bake swastika-shaped cookies?"
Sherman goes on to say that effective immediately, she is resigning as CEO of OG Analytical, and selling the company. But from what Crombie writes, the damage may be done to the business, and it's hard to see a "phoenix rising from the ashes scenario" working out.
Insofar as the staff at OG was not aware of the ugliness in the hearts of their owners, it's depressing to think that good, hard working people may lose their jobs because of the actions and words of Sherman and Combs. Then again, every aspect of this is depressing to think about.
It's even more depressing that I have to write in the year 2017 that there is absolutely, unequivocally no place for this sort of belief in Oregon (or anywhere else). Not just in the cannabis industry, but anywhere in the place we call Pacific Wonderland. It's on par with having to remind people that sexually abusing children is not cool, or setting fire to animals is not funny. I just assumed that we were all on the same page about it not being okay to be a Neo-Nazi white supremacist. It appears I was wrong.
So, to reiterate the blatantly obvious: Don't preach hate. And no, I don't hate Sherman and Combs. But I'm filled with sadness for their fear, for the lives of their employees that have been ruined just before Christmas, and for the shame this has brought upon their families and children. Sherman was a friend, and just like finding out that any friend of yours had a double life filled with abhorant behavior and beliefs, I'm floored, heartbroken and physically ill.
Read the piece Crombie wrote, but have something at the ready to steady yourself.