Cinematic Salute

To the Editor,

Regarding "Wanted: Lofty Idealist" (April 6): As one of the newest members of "A Jump To The Left," I am sad to see Loft Theater owner Joe Esposito go. The Loft has been home to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and its Tucson cast for more than 20 years, and Joe has gone above and beyond the call of duty in what can only be described as a labor of love. Independent and cult movies, although popular, never enjoyed the financial success of mainstream studio releases. But sometimes the bottom line is about something more than box-office receipts, and Joe has always been a champion of the human factor in the complex equation of film distribution. With his retirement, we bid farewell to a friend, benefactor and supporter of all of us who fled the outside world for a little while to see fantastic images come alive before our eyes on the flickering screen. We salute you, Joe. Thanks for sharing the magic.

-- Jack Hess

Sermon On The Mount

To the Editor,

After reading Tom Danehy's "Agreeable Disagreement" (March 30), I feel compelled to set the record straight. Danehy's remarks about the endangered red squirrel fail to mention any of the other species threatened by the building of telescopes on Mount Graham. All of these species are found nowhere else on earth. Eighteen different conservation groups opposed this project on public lands. Apparently the UA and the Vatican were ultimately unable to ensure victory in the courts and it took a Presidential directive to get the clearance. As far as I'm concerned, that denied the "people" the benefit of due process.

Much more disturbing to me, however, is the obvious bemused contempt with which Danehy regards the culture, religion and spiritual practices of Native Americans, the Apache Nation in particular. Clearly Danehy (a Catholic, no?) is unable to conceive that a culture that worships in the temple of God and not in a temple made by men could be taken seriously, let alone be genuine. At any rate, what the issue is here is freedom of religion being denied to indigenous peoples. It is absurd that the UA has ample documentation of the importance of Mount Graham to the Apache and yet entered into a partnership with the Catholic Church that denies the significance of the site for the cultural survival of the Apache. If anyone suggested that San Xavier be torn down so the UA could win research money, the community would be in an uproar. That Mount Graham is as much (or more) of a vehicle of faith for the Apache as San Xavier is for the Catholics is undeniable.

Bob Haozous, Robby Romero, Franklin Stanley, Raleigh Thompson, Ned Anderson and Ola Cassadore are some of the Apache leaders who were active in trying to stop the construction of the scopes along with the Apache Survival Coalition and Native Children's Survival. Most of them are San Carlos Apache and their reservation is about 40 miles from Mount Graham. Native Americans from many tribes joined in the effort to protect the mountain, as they see the building of the telescopes as a violation of the rights of all peoples to enjoy freedom of religion. The Apache people have worshipped on Mount Graham since before white people were even here. That makes it a significant cultural resource, and there are laws that are supposed to protect it, including the Bill of Rights, and Federal Code Section 106, just for starters. Senator Bill Campbell thinks religious freedom is worth fighting for and publicly opposed the telescopes.

As many immigrants to the Southwest have discovered, the area is energized in mystical ways that can inspire faith even in the spiritually challenged. Anyone of even moderate intelligence and sensitivity soon develops a respect for the spiritual resilience of southeastern Arizona's indigenous peoples, even its prehistoric ones. This would, of course, exclude Tom Danehy, who would rather stay uninformed and make moronic statements that are blatant lies. I guess that's easier than admitting the papal leadership is still engaging in the same kind of cultural annihilation that it has been infamous for in the Western Hemisphere for the last 500 years. That the UA will always chase dollars before it will honor the truth in its own research is beyond Danehy's grasp.

Danehy owes the Apache Nation, and Native Americans in general, an apology for trivializing their culture and insulting their religious integrity. Because he continues to validate the stereotype of the dumb jock (thus hurting athletes), he can kiss my ring!

-- Bill Haynes