It seems that a certain tourist from Pennsylvania was offended by what he viewed here in Northern New Mexico as people whose appearance, background, ethnicity and political opinions are unacceptable to him. He wrote a letter to the editor to our state’s two largest newspapers, denouncing these people and warning that they are injuring the tourist industry.
He blamed quite a large group, both here in Santa Fe, in the country as a whole (where Hispanics now make up the largest minority), and in the world.
But you know, this is the “Land of Enchantment.” Nothing is supposed to matter here but the climate and the landscape. Surely both would be better if the land was depopulated of those very groups that make it enchanted: the original inhabitants (our tourist disputes that), women who for a century have found their spiritual, emotional and political home here (and thank God that includes at least a few radical feminists, like me) and people from countries to the south, often fleeing persecution, who do ninety percent of the hard physical labor here and without whom our economy and the economy of the nation would collapse—especially since they are forced by necessity to accept the nation’s miserable minimum wage.
No self-respecting “American” would accept that wage or do the essential work we seem to consider beneath us.
It’s fortunate for our tourist and his wife that they fled rather than going to the Trump rally—Fox News apparently enlightened them on episodes of “violence,” surely the acts of those same inflamed feminists, “Indians” and “Mexicans.”
Our tourist brought his wife with him. She is, in his letter “my wife,” but it seems likely that she has at least a first name, and if she has a name, she may also harbor some opinions, although they would probably only reflect and reinforce the blatherings of our tourist.
Fleeing, they escaped the blurring of our landscape and poisoning of our air by the vast Dog Head Fire southeast of Los Lunas. I like to imagine that our tourist might imagine that the fire was ignited by the rage of us feminists, “Indians” and “Mexicans,” rather than by lightning searing acres of drought-parched mountain.
Would that, Athena-like, we had the power to put it out.
Having laughed a little, I am now forced to realize that the opinions of our tourist (and his wife?) are the same opinions that fueled the killer five days ago in Orlando.
He exploded, his wife and a co-worker said, when he had to encounter the existence of women and “illegals”—and, obviously, LBGT people.
Our tourist is not a killer, and even Trump, who (and his wife?) has not dared to support excluding all LGBT people from “Great America,” although you can be sure when his adoring wife and adoring daughters (and, according to him, several adoring movie stars) are his audience, he may indulge in such fantasies. After all, given his other opinions, it would make sense.
So we are dealing with murderous thoughts, even when they don’t result in murder as they did in Orlando.
Now, of course, there is the issue of freedom of speech.
Long ago, its limit was popularly defined (if not legally) as anything that does not cause a panic, like shouting fire in a crowded movie theater.
These days we are hearing language that is the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded movie theater, language that whether the speaker is aware of it or not, incites to violence.
There is a little more to be said about our tourist from Pennsylvania (and his wife?).
Pennsylvania was the site of the first oil strikes in the nineteen century. It was the state where Standard Oil first sank is claws into the earth. As Ida Tarbell’s majestic The History of the Standard Oil Company reveals, in the process of creating its monopoly, John D. Rockefeller and my remote ancestor-by-marriage, Henry Flagler, crushed all the small local oil companies, such as one owned by Ida’s father.
We are beginning to understand something about inherited trauma, descending through a family for generations even when the source of the original trauma is hidden. Is it possible that the history of coercion in a state can produce generations of acceptors of the conservative point of view, whose great-great-great-grandfathers (and grandmothers) had to bow to the coercion of Standard Oil?