Taking notes from a liberal progressive organization, the ordinarily conservative American Motorcyclist Association has decided to export some good old passive aggression from its humble offices in Ohio back to California.

Specifically, the AMA has named Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as its Motorcyclist of the Year.

Why? Because he did more damage to the industry than any other person in 2010 by signing S.B. 435, an anti-noise law that is poorly crafted, discriminates against motorcyclists, will be difficult to enforce, and will hurt the already struggling industry.

Yes, he did damage, so he gets the annual prize. Makes sense, right?

AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman justified the award by saying, “the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year designation recognizes the person(s) who has had the most profound impact on the world of motorcycling, for better or worse, in the previous 12 months.”

Strange criteria to bestow an ostensible honor you say?

The AMA says it modeled its award criteria on Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, which at other times has awarded it to Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Okay. We get that. Sort of.

But in Hitler’s case, at least, when he was awarded MOTY in 1938, the U.S. was still trying to appease him, and we were not in open conflict with Germany. That same year, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain also issued his misbegotten prophecy that they will have “peace for our time.”

But would Hitler have gotten the award in 1945 after he was seen for what he was?

Would the U.S now offer Osama bin Laden Man of the Year?

Any takers? Do any Americans want to nominate Osama bin Laden? After all, has anyone allegedly had more “profound impact” on our country?

How about we nominate the Taliban, and invite its leaders to a banquet dinner to present the award?

Actually, if this doesn’t sound absurd enough, Time did consider making bin Laden its Person of the Year in 2001, but decided not to.

That his nomination could be taken seriously sounds pretty perverse to me.

Given that the AMA did cross that line and chose a man seen as most harmful to its cause makes me question the AMA’s position, tactics, and forthrightness.

The AMA’s award has only existed since 2008, so there’s not a long case history of other villains getting the award. In fact Arnie is the first.

According to AMA rep Pete terHorst, “In 2008, the AMA recognized AMA Board Chairman Stan Simpson for helping turn the AMA around, and last year it was America’s youth riders because they were/are the victims most impacted by the CPSIA or “lead law.”

So clearly, the AMA understands the award can go to positive movers and shakers, and reserves the right to make political statements with its award. But last year it honored victims. This year it called attention to a perpetrator.

Very interesting.

Please don’t take us wrong. We adamantly support the AMA, and its endorsement of the proposed SAE J2825 motorcycle sound test, of which terHorst says, “The SAE J2825 is the way to go (which the MIC underwrote) and AMA has been pushing it wherever we could, but it’s an uphill struggle.”

We do agree with the AMA that the Schwarzenegger has done a horrible disservice to the industry.

It’s only noteworthy that Time Magazine’s standard was seen as a model to emulate by the normally conservative AMA.

In the eyes of some, we fear this will be seen as an act of passive aggression of the highest order. It might even be seen as shrill.

There is little doubt, the AMA, which was over-ruled, and lost its battle at least for now, gave the award to shame Schwarzenegger.

Dingman ends his press release by saying, “We will continue to work with municipal governments and state legislatures to implement reasonable measures, such as the SAE J2825 standard, to address excessive motorcycle sound. But we now have the added burden of showing how California’s new measure is not an effective solution, and we have Gov. Schwarzenegger to thank for that.”

So they “thank” him by making him Motorcyclist of the Year.
But heh, what do we know? In today’s climate the AMA’s posturing may be effective.

But is it setting a solid example of taking the high road in this battle?

We are actually sorry to see the AMA in such a situation. According to Dingman in his editorial titled “Sitting on the sidelines is not an option,” the AMA has only 245,000 members out of an estimated 20 million riders.

Is it any wonder it is having to resort to tactics like its latest MOTY award?
We would encourage more of you who’ve not joined already to do so and send donations to the AMA.

Clearly the motorcyclists of America have their proverbial back up against a political wall. The AMA is fighting as best it can. We understand that.

We think the AMA’s ploy ought to serve not only as a wake-up call to politicians (who don’t care), but to you who are motorcyclists who say you do care!

We all need to unite more than ever, because there are more politicians than the former Terminator who’d like to terminate your rights as a rider.

What do you think? Did the AMA make the right move with its MotY selection? Please leave a comment or discuss it at this forum thread.

Related Reading
AMA Takes a Jab at Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger Signs SB435