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Claim: Leo W. Banks' Story Misses the Bigger Picture

Living in Tucson means that one will be presented on a regular basis with the ongoing saga of dealing with the international border ("Following the Amnesty Trail," Feb. 15). The slew of local investigative reporting usually has the same contents: a picture of someone in a cowboy hat, some garbage out in the desert and some dark-skinned people climbing a fence, on foot or squeezed onto the bed of a truck. One thing that is missing is the reality of the bigger picture.

This is an international border between the richest nation in the history of the world and the much poorer humans living south of it.

This is a land that has changed owners many times, and not always in a way that can be called "just." This is an area that must be crossed on route to El Norte and the American dream. Fences will not prevent the flow of human traffic. Anyone living in this region must accept the unfortunate fact that what is going on is much larger than their ranch property or themselves. To deny this realization dooms one to repeat the history of this land.

Abie Morales


Claim: 'Propagandist' Leo W. Banks' Story Misses the Bigger Picture

Leo W. Banks is a fine propagandist and a questionable reporter. His "Following the Amnesty Trail" is a textbook example of hyperbole, exclusions, poor research and redundancy.

The question of trash without consideration of the context of the global economic diaspora makes the subject political rather than humanitarian. Mr. Banks did not include information about the impact of cattle-raising, road building or even where the local ranchers dispose of their trash.

I was in the Ironwood-Silverbell Mine area in August of 2006. I took photos of a trash heap there (including shotgun shells and bullet-riddled debris). If I were a propagandist I would title them, "The owners of this trash have the right to hunt human beings in Arizona."

B. Rowland


Social Scientists' Claim: Leo W. Banks' Story Misses the Bigger Picture

As social scientists who work on the U.S.-Mexico border, we found Leo W. Banks' recent article to be a simplistic, poorly contextualized and unbalanced account of border issues and the root causes of migration. Banks claims that the word "amnesty" is the cause of increased migration, saying, "The word amnesty possesses remarkable power on the Mexican side of the line. It has the same effect as a starter's pistol."

This oversimplification disguises political and economic structures, most notably the North American Free Trade Agreement, which continues to destabilize the Mexican economy and displace people from their land, leaving people little other choice than to migrate. Since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, poverty is on the rise (three of five people live in poverty) as hourly wages drop (from $2.91 per hour in 1994 to $2.50 per hour in 2004 for production workers) and the number of jobs decline (factory jobs declined 15 percent since 2000).

Furthermore, the terminology Banks uses perpetuates fear, hatred and racism. Banks refers to migrants never as people, but as "illegals," or "illegal aliens" and conflates migrants with "bandits," "drug gangsters" and "smugglers." His use of terms such as "hordes" or "stampede" imply that these are not people but animals invading the country.

While we do not want to diminish the seriousness of environmental degradation and feelings of insecurity by local residents, we also do not want to forget the human cost of migration and the real reasons people are risking their lives to come to this country. Perhaps a more appropriate title for his article would be, "Following the NAFTA Trail."

Robin Reineke and Wendy Vogt


Claim: Fourth Avenue Underpass Story Misses the Urine, Fellatio Angles

I laughed like a stoned hyena at Historical Commissioner Sharon Chadwick's disapproval of the demolition of the Fourth Avenue underpass on the grounds of its history ("The Pace of Progress," Currents, Feb. 22). The underpass is nothing but a living monument to the odor of urine and has all the historical import of last night's dinner.

Forgive me for not trembling with the resonant frequencies of the vibrant past when I stroll through that scenic underpass and think back to all those departed wranglers who were so enthusiastically fellated in that very spot by generations of teenage runaways.

Perhaps we should be more focused on preserving our reasonableness than on preserving every ditch and alley listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That way, we can have some sort of revitalization downtown prior to our own decrepitude.

Matt Scholz


Claim: Hoffman's Commentary Misses the Biological-Core Angle

I was at the meeting of the Pima County Board of Supervisors that Jonathan Hoffman quoted (Guest Commentary, Feb. 1). Not once in the meeting were any comments made by those opposed to the mines that they felt mining should be exported to Third World countries.

The question is about mining this particular area, which is a biological core area of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. And, if you have been keeping up with the news, there are multiple mines that are attempting to start work in this area.

The question is one of specifying land uses in our rapidly growing state. This area in question would be better utilized for the long run as an open-space area, and I believe my opinion is shared by many in Southeastern Arizona.

Lia Sotak


Claim: Scene-Elitist Rant Missed the Importance of Music

I'd like to first thank you for putting names like "Sigur Rós," "Cat Power" and "Mogwai" into local print, and out there under the more public microscope so that they may, perhaps, be exposed to an otherwise unaware reader ("Music-Scene Elitists," The Rant Issue, Feb. 22).

I am absolutely a "music snob": one of those mentioned who will make broad generalizations based on your knowledge of a few, select bands. I must defend myself by stating that talking about music is one of those sacred things (at least to the music snob), where a general basis of knowledge must be assumed in order to continue to a secondary level of serious discussion. Music, as an art form, transgresses many more common social topics. But it is an art form, and just as the visual-art enthusiast will not discuss the finer points of sculpture on the street with Joe Schmoe, music snobs must relegate this sort of discussion to those of equal knowledge in order to guard against frustration and, honestly, just embarrassing the other party.

Per the offensive nature of the article, it is the portion of the term "scene elitist" where I take exception. It's important to differentiate a scenester (which "music-scene elitist" implies, I think) and a music snob/elitist. Scenesters are those who crowd music shows in groups and talk to each other loudly, but pay little or no attention to the band. Music elitists will shush you if you try to talk during a dramatic moment in a band's live performance.

I also must emphasize that, here in Tucson, we are extremely lucky to have a publicly accessible medium committed to independent and local music. KXCI FM 9.13 provides a wonderful service to the community, with these same music snobs and elitists behind the microphone, and brings the brave new world of independent music into the lives of those who would otherwise assume that the Clear Channel swamp of homogeneity is what "music" is.

Colin Gremillion

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