But when one of our own — who happens to be of Asian descent — is ethnically intimidated and harassed by a couple of teenage punks, we must act.
For months Bob Chan, of Chan’s Chinese restaurant in Spring Lake, suffered in silence. He turned the other cheek.
He never reported to police that someone continually called him, screaming ethnic slurs, telling him to get out of town. He just hung up the phone.
He never reported to authorities when two teens entered his lovely restaurant and screamed at customers. He just went back to work.
And he didn’t report when those same teens egged his restaurant in broad daylight. He just asked his workers to clean up the mess.
A community member who saw the egging, however, refused to idly drive by. She called police and followed the teens to help authorities track them down.
Thank goodness for her moral compass. She is everything that’s right about Tri-Cities residents.
While this case navigates the legal system, we have to ask ourselves why these teens — one a Spring Lake kid and another from Muskegon — thought that it was OK to do what they did? It was no big deal, they told police.
Where did they learn such bigotry? Why did that hate fester for so long? Why target Chan, who said he feels that he’s as American as anyone else?
Perhaps the answers we find will be uncomfortable. But sometimes such discovery leads to a better understanding of ourselves and our community.
We all profess to care about each other and our West Michigan oasis. Let’s show it. Let’s embrace the little diversity we have, and refuse to allow the kind of hate and bigotry exhibited in this case to become who we are.