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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 236

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This is the grave of Joseph Coors.

This loathsome troll, this utter scumbag, this cancer on America was born in 1917, possibly a worse event for the U.S. than World War I. He was born into the right-wing brewing family that established their empire of shitty beer in Colorado. And that is what would define Coors’ life–bad beer and even worse politics.

Let’s dispense with the biography and get to the man’s evil. First, the beer. The Coors family had a lesser known side business in porcelain that allowed the company to survive the Depression. Joe started work there and then moved to the beer side of things. He inherited a ton of money and made a ton of money through the decades, through the great meritocracy of America. Hew was as president of Coors from 1977 to 1985 and then COO from 1980 to 1988. During his era, Coors had a national reputation as a special, exciting beer people wanted. This boggles the mind as it is cold garbage. You can tell by the blue label that it sucks. That Yuengling holds a similar, if less pronounced, spot in the nation’s heart today–another horrific beer from a fascist–is also incomprehensible. I could write a lot more about the beer, but when the politics are this bad, they need attention.

Joseph Coors’ politics were, to quote his own brother, “a little bit right of Attila the Hun.” Coors was a critical player in organizing corporate forces to tear down the New Deal state, use propaganda to push right-wing interests, and declare total war on progressives of all stripes. He cited reading Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind in 1953 as his conversion moment, but of course he grew up in a family of near fascists so its not as if he was likely to turn out too different had he read something else. He started this in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the first right-wing businessmen seeking to repeal the New Deal began to come together to support Barry Goldwater and then Ronald Reagan’s run for governor of California. Coors was a big funder and supporter of both men. He was especially close to Ronnie, serving as an informal advisor through his California days. Ultimately though, he felt Reagan was too liberal because of influence from Nancy. Hmmm….

Coors’ biggest goal was creating a right-wing media network. He found a young ambitious man named Roger Ailes to work with. In 1973, Coors gave Ailes a ton of money to start a conservative media network to counter reality left-wing media bias. It was called TVN and while it originally tried to put together right-wing spin on stories to sell to networks, Coors and Ailes wanted to start a fourth network to challenge the Big Three. It fell apart because it hired real journalists to work for right-wing crackpots. TVN’s president was a guy named Jack Wilson, who thought Martin Luther King was a communist revolutionary and wanted coverage to reflect that. Hacks like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity weren’t available yet and so it fell apart quickly when the journalists resisted and internal turmoil resulted. It closed in 1975, but the idea certainly didn’t disappear. In other words, Joe Coors founded the precursor to Fox News. Fair and balanced indeed.

Of course, Richard Nixon, Last Liberal President Unlike that Neoliberal Sellout Barack Obama (TM), nominated Coors to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The nomination foundered though on found letters where Coors openly said he would interfere in the content of PBS broadcasting and his company’s long history of discrimination against women and people of color. Although Gerald Ford reupped the nomination after Coors got in trouble the first time, the Senate rejected his nomination in 1975.

He was also heavily invested in the right-wing think tank world. He helped found the Heritage Foundation in 1973 with other nice people such as Paul Weyrich, paying $250,000 in startup costs and then $300,000 a year after that. He of course worked hard to get other capitalists to invest–most notably the vile Richard Mellon Scaife–helping Heritage to provide the “intellectual” framework for creating the New Gilded Age. There were other foundations too. The Castle Rock Foundation for instance was founded in 2003 to fund free market ideas and of course support Pete Coors’ 2004 run for the Senate. Coors also gave money to the John Birch Society because of course he did. There aren’t that many people funding the spider web of right-wing foundations. Joe Coors and now his sons are a few of them.

During the Vietnam War, Coors got on the University of Colorado Board of Regents where he had one goal–stopping the protests on campus. He hated anti-war protestors and wanted them expelled. In fact, he managed to get the university’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, a principle Coors definitely opposed, expelled after it held its 1968 national convention there, against Coors’ wishes. As a confirmed racist, he was also outraged by the university starting a Chicano Studies program. Students were disgusted and horrified by his presence. A 1969 protest at Southern Colorado State College (now CSU-Pueblo) saw 43 students join hands around the campus pub to stop anyone from ordering Coors. Fifteen were arrested.

Now, Coors’ father was not a nice guy. But he had decided to allow his plants to unionize in order to have labor peace in the 1930s. That didn’t mean they were pro-union. After a 1957 strike failed, the union was pretty weak and ineffective. But it still existed, giving workers some sort of voice on the job. How do you think Joe felt about that? Oh, I think you know. He was an asshole to his workers. Coors required new employees to take lie detector tests before hiring until 1986 to get rid of “troublemakers” before they were hired. To get rid of his unions, he forced the workers, Brewery Workers Local 366, to go on strike in August 1977. They remained out until December 1978 when the union was finally busted. This led to the famed AFL-CIO boycott of Coors that became a national cause. The boycott lasted for a decade and made a lot of interesting connections between organized labor and other progressive communities where Coors was popular–particularly among gay men and Mexican-Americans. Boycotts against Coors actually extended back to 1966, when local Mexican-American organizations started them to protest the company’s terrible treatment of their people. The company employed 1,400 workers in 1966. Two percent were Mexican-American and most of them janitors. The boycott of Coors from the AFL-CIO was easier to coordinate because Coors actively supported the grape growers the United Farm Workers was trying to organize. The boycott was actually pretty effective. Coors’ share of beer sold in California fell from 40 percent in 1977 to 14 percent in 1984. The company finally convinced the AFL-CIO to end the boycott in 1987, not that it really did anything pro-worker to make that happen.

Coors of course hated environmentalists. Coors cans were toxic. No, not just talking about the beer here. In 1977, Rocky Mountain states created a regional agreement to stop the transportation of toxic waste from aluminum can production across state lines. That was largely a shot at Coors and ol’Joe was very angry. So he responded by creating the Mountain States Legal Foundation, basically a well-funded organization to fight back against environmentalists in courts. He named a nice young man named James Watt to head it. Of course, when Reagan won the presidency, he named Watt Secretary of the Interior on Coors’ recommendation. In fact, Coors was one of the advisors who helped Reagan pick his appointees. Along with saying that environmental protection wasn’t necessary because Christ was returning soon, Watt suggested another of Coors’ friends–Anne Gorsuch–to head the EPA. She of course is Neil’s mom. This story just gets better and better. Both got canned pretty fast, Gorsuch for being so aggressive in repealing toxic waste regulations and Watt for being a racist. These were Joe Coors’ friends.

Coors also personally donated an airplane to the Contras. He ran $65,000 through Oliver North to buy a cargo plane for the illegally-funded anti-Sandinista rightists that Reagan loved.

But hey, Coors had his defenders. Such as Neil Gorsuch, who co-wrote this lovely 1987 article for Columbia’s student newspaper defending Coors’ hiring practices!

I could go on forever. But I will stop now. Joe Coors was one of the worst Americans to ever pollute this nation.

Coors finally shed the world of his evil in 2003. Lymphatic cancer did him in. He was 85 years old. The globe itself gave an involuntary sigh of relief upon his demise; Hell wasn’t sure if it could handle anyone this evil. I mean, Satan is one thing, but Joe Coors?

Joe Coors is buried in El Camino Memorial Park, San Diego, California. Some nice trolling from the grave too with that inscription.

If you would like this series to profile the worst pieces of filth in American history, you can donate to the cover the required expenses here. I can’t wait to go visit Roger Ailes, if he in fact is buried somewhere. Richard Mellon Scaife is in Pittsburgh and Paul Weyrich in Virginia. Traveling around the nation exposing myself to evil vibes from below the ground is risky business. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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