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GETTING A NOGALES' HEART ON

HEAR WHILE YOU READ 

It’s the cusp of
Valentine’s Day again.
 
A day for spiking the blood sugar, a little romance and perhaps remembering the life of a man who was beheaded.

At least it used to be that way. 

As many of you know, one of my occupations is journalist.

I come from an age of smoking in newsrooms, typewriters, phoning in stories from pay phones and drinking in the press room after the paper hit the stands.

Today, with everything changing so rapidly I'm not entirely sure what a journalist is anymore.

For me it still comes down to telling truthful stories, providing a voice for those who are never heard, and hopefully in some small way changing the way things are for the better.
 

Around 2005 when wall building madness was hitting its stride and
people were dying by the hundreds because of them, I began calling the fences walls. Because that is what they are: walls of metal that divide two countries.
 
But politician's (and many journalists) like to call them "fences" because the idea of building walls was/is blatantly un-American.

It’s not what we’re about as a country. And living behind walls is not how we like to think of ourselves. 
 
However, when there is fear, anything is possible.

Just ask St. Valentine or
Dick Chaney.
 
Anyway, this week on the cover of our so-called
“alternative” newspaper, which aside from it’s marketing spin is about as mainstream as a weekly publication can get, there was a story about  *!GASP!* drug violence in the bustling border town of Nogales, Az.

For those of you who do not know, Nogales is ground zero for wall building in Arizona. The wall was built years before
Bush the Lesser decided to wall in America and it was built out of fear (Note: Check out the Bush the Lesser link for a bit of irony).
 
And you may remember it as the same wall I played as part of
The Anta Project 

Unfortunately now that the economy has tanked and fear of Mexican workers is on the backburner, we have a new horror du jour to justify border militarization: border drug violence. 
 
Men with American guns murdering and creating mayhem.
 
Can you imagine such a thing?
 
Perhaps you can. It happens everyday. Probably in the neighborhood or town where you live.
 
You know, kind of like an episode of the
Sopranos, the hit show America loved for so long. 
 
But I guess Sicilian Neckties and cement shoes are somehow less horrible than Mexcian beheadings. 
 
Every nationality has it’s criminals, and it is a well established fact that where there is crime there is going to be violence. And nothing creates an opportunity for crime quite like prohibition and economic disparity.

Will there be a future story about drug violence from Italy?  Russia?  Or how about the homegrown type? Of course not. 

Instead these types of stories take the easy route and pander to the deep fostered resentment America holds towards her southern neighbors. Twas ever thus.

Somehow the journalist ignores drug violence as a part of our collective
American culture. That we as Americans are a puritanical lot and we fear legalizing all the stuff we love to smoke, shoot and snort.
 
The story also glibly graces over the fact that Homeland Security/ Border Patrol employees regularly
fire pepper ball weapons over the wall at Mexican nationals in Nogales.

I've been hearing stories about this for two years from Nogales residents who say the pepper spray lingers in the streets and impacts the kids at the nearby public school.

And why do they do this? Because the Mexican kids throw rocks at them. 
 
Sounds like the makings of an international incident to me.

We build walls. They throw rocks. We shoot pepper balls. They shoot guns. We shoot guns. And so on like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fund, the poster children for American-style conflict resolution.
 
Despite the newspaper's hysterics about the increased border violence, the numbers are actually quite low when compared to other numbers such as border crosser deaths. So to raise the tension, the journalist uses drug-related death statistics for ALL of Mexico not just the border. By that turn, one would think the story would list ALL of the
drug related deaths in America for comparison.

Would a story about American's wanting drugs and cheap labor but treating those who fill those needs as somehow expendable ever sell papers?

I dunno. But one thing everyone does know is:
Fear sells.

Especially when the story is drenched in blood red ink and skulls as this one was. 
 
I can go on and on but it is getting late, my caffeine is wearing off and my soapbox is flattening under the weight of my heavy blathering.
 
So on this St. Valentine’s Day let us lift a nostalgic glass of booze, our national drug of choice, to that great
American Gangster Al Capone ,who with Tommy Gun in tow removed his completion via the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, during another wonderful age of Prohibition and Depression.

And don't forget to mark your calendars for next year's
Dillinger Days here in Tucson, an event which is fun for the whole family.

Who knows, maybe in 100 years during a robust economy we'll be legally sparking bongs and celebrating
Narco Corrido Days?

Wouldn't that be something?

Happy Valentine's Day.