Who's Alienated Now?
Editor's note: Michael Lacey's satirical column "Alienated" (May 5) got readers' attention in a big way -- mostly because what he described (vigilantes drawing down on 800 Mexicans inside a Phoenix Roman Catholic church) is almost predictable in an era of "Minutemen" patrolling Arizona's border with Mexico and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' declining to prosecute a U.S. citizen who held unarmed Mexicans at gunpoint at a rest stop. What follows is a selection of the responses that avalanched into New Times after Lacey's parody was published:
See the cover. Judge the book: These airport security guys you wrote about in "Alienated" are patriots! I can see how they would get sick and tired of busting good Americans at Sky Harbor and go out and take the law into their own hands.
I am so proud that we have a patriot like Andrew Thomas in the County Attorney's Office. When he ran his campaign on stopping illegal immigrants, I wondered how he was going to do that as county attorney, since I thought that office has nothing to do with who comes across our borders. But now I know!
If good Americans break the law in Maricopa County by stopping wetbacks from coming here, Thomas will refuse to prosecute them. He will even do this to the point of endorsing the use of weapons on people who look Latino at rest stops. My response is: Finally somebody in public office gets it!
Even if those of us against illegal immigration wind up pulling guns on legal Hispanic residents, who cares?! Their families came here illegally a generation ago. It's payback that they suffer now.
Tommy Dan, Prescott
When in the course of human events: Being that the federal government is perfectly happy with illegal immigration -- keeps wages down, unions at bay, etc. -- what's wrong with citizens standing up and saying "No!"? When the government stops supporting what individuals want, then the individuals should fix things themselves.
I find it amusing that both liberals and neo-conservatives like illegal immigration; it's about time they agreed on something, though sadly both sides are completely (as usual) mistaken.
I personally cannot think of a single benefit bestowed upon our society from illegal immigrants. I would love to see one of the pro-illegal-immigration people give me a list as to what benefits they are bestowing upon us. There are hundreds of reasons illegal aliens should not be here. Supporting an illegal activity is a very odd thing.
Kevin Mercer, Flagstaff
Oregonians could be next: What's wrong with Maricopa County? It seems as if racism and tyranny are encouraged here.
I have just moved here from Eugene, Oregon, and have never seen anything to the nature of what goes on here. It seems there is a flux of crazed racist folks who seem to think that holding human beings at gunpoint in a church is acceptable conduct.
To me it almost seems like a form of ethnic cleansing.
I mean, come on, these folks (as stated in your column) do a lot of the work that "citizens" don't want to do. They aren't committing a crime other than not being documented. It seems that having Sheriff Joe Arpaio in office has encouraged folks around here to step outside the law and take a maverick approach to policing.
Now, this deal you describe with the Canadians?!
Again, come on, there seem to be a lot of hateful misers who want a better tee time. Maybe having a visiting Canadian teeing off before them was inconvenient, but what the fuck!
Ryan Huisman, Scottsdale
Insensitive rhetoric: I read Michael Lacey's column today. Last night, the pastor of Immaculate Heart Church was here at our parish, St. Agnes', to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. Neither before dinner nor during the dinner conversation did he mention that his congregation had been arrested en masse this past Sunday. As a daily newspaper reader, I was surprised such a story in your weekly had not appeared previously in the daily papers, or even in the other media.
I can only conclude that this column is some sort of fiction. I'm disappointed in this because it will strike fear into the hearts of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and drive them further underground. What may be an exercise in rhetoric or politics for you has dire consequences for these least brothers and sisters of ours and of Christ.
The lack of sensitivity and understanding on the part of the majority of us north of the political border is what is causing the mass migration from Mexico in the first place, and the historically prolonged uncharacteristic and inhospitable response of so many "American" citizens.
Father Brad Peterson, Phoenix
Is church the new Tent City?: I was sitting here looking through your magazine when I came across the column "Alienated," and it made me sick.
I can't believe these fools had the nerve to go into a church, a sacred place, and do this. Come on, coyotes in a church on Sunday, when the weekend is their busiest time?! And red-light runners, car thieves and homies at church, confessing their sins and begging forgiveness because they feel guilty?!
So what about the thousands of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Baptists who go to church on Sundays? Are they a bunch of rapists, murderers and sex offenders, asking God to change their lives and cleanse their souls? Sounds like a lot of guilt to me.
For [these vigilantes] to show up at Home Depot, hotels and restaurants and mess with the working class sounds like some bullies trying to make a point. Why don't they show up in the 'hood where the hard-core drug dealers, gangsters and smugglers live? Because these guys in the 'hood wouldn't think twice about taking their stupid asses down!
As for Mexicans being a bigger threat post-9/11, as I recall, we were not responsible for 9/11. And as far as Spanglish being a direct threat to American children, there should be more worry about that teenager next door with the STD doing somebody's daughter.
Now if your last name is Smith, I could believe you are all American, but where did somebody named Shultze [one of the alleged vigilante characters] come from? County Attorney Andrew Thomas will be sorry when it's too late to do something about a situation he should have handled in the beginning. And as for that Saudi prince [another character in the satire], last I heard we have a war going on with his side of the ocean. Here's that Saudi prince's motto: "Get minds on Mexicans and off of us."
Vickie Guizar, Phoenix
Anal props: Just want to pass on my "props" or "kudos" for that hilarious piece on anal dipstick Andy Thomas. This Mexicali-born wetback has only one thing to say to Thomas and his Nazi fuck-buddies: KISS MY BIG BROWN ASS! Sure, I'll mow his lawn, right after he blows me!! They'll be glad to know I'm boning one of their white chicks and plan on raising a beautiful "mestizo" soon.
All kidding aside, great job on calling a bigot white!
Hector Acuna, Phoenix
Hard workers deserve better: Where are our so-called Hispanic leaders, and why aren't they solving the problems the Hispanic community is having, instead of allowing the local government to treat us so shabbily? Is Arizona going back to the 1930s, when minorities had to use a different bathroom, water fountain, etc.? Most illegal aliens are here to work and not to take any welfare. And that can't be said about the Anglos.
Stella Balderrama, Phoenix
Well, this is a real letter: Why wasn't "Alienated" on local television stations? Or on any other media outlet? Was this a real story?
Kirby Alarcon, Phoenix
But anonymously, please: I am e-mailing you to see if you could point me to [the vigilantes'] Web site. I want to join the fight against illegals!
Name withheld by request
Vigilantes in the panties: You knew it was coming. When you have the county attorney endorsing racist vigilantes and lynch mobs, there can only be one result. The "members" of "Totally UnAmerican Republikans and Democrats" sound like Nazi wanna-bes who like playing cowboy.
The problem is that Horst Shultze (this freak's name alone makes me wonder if this isn't just a New Times April Fools' joke), Vinnie Ianuzzi, and the former Saudi prince "Sheik Yer Bouti" (now I'm really thinkin' April Fools' joke!) are all spineless little racist cowards hiding somewhere in Andy Thomas' bunched-up, fascist, neo-Nazi panties.
Which leads to another problem: What if some Aryan-lookin', blond-haired, blue-eyed, ex-U.S.-military Special Forces weapons-and-explosives expert type decided to defend the Mexicans in their homes and churches, illegal or not? Seems like these punk baggage wranglers might be getting into something they might regret -- in other words, picture TURDs splattered all over south Phoenix!
And little Andy Thomas has already established that that would be self-defense in the eyes of the law! There's a bloodbath a-brewin', and Kounty Klansman Andy Thomas is making sure it's gonna happen.
Name withheld by request
Fat, embittered, and yellow: I read in our local newspaper about a new group calling itself the "Minutemen" who are going to "patrol" the border to keep illegal aliens out of our country.
If one looks up the origin of the term "Minutemen," he finds that it was originally coined to describe patriots who were on the alert to respond to attacks by the British. But the new Minutemen are, in my estimation, old fat guys wearing camouflage and playing military.
My brother who's a policeman tells me that in a real firefight these "patriots" would probably not do too well; fat guys in hot uniforms probably wouldn't hold up well against real enemies. But the "enemies" they are after are mostly families trying to get to a better life and jobs so they can feed their families. They aren't here to fight.
Being from Missouri, I once accidentally met Robert DePugh, founder of the Missouri Minutemen. They were a similar organization. They were a bunch of fat Missourians running around northern Missouri driving Army surplus Jeeps and burying guns in anticipation of communists coming to take over Missouri farmland. The time I met DePugh, he was sitting with Robert Shelton, head of the Ku Klux Klan. Eventually, the Missouri Minutemen lost interest in playing military and went back to being embittered citizens.
We in the United States must deal strongly with these new Minutemen. If they want to go play military, that is one thing, but scaring families from a friendly nation isn't called for. People of good character need to stand up to these bullies! The cynical part of me thinks we should arm Mexicans with paintball guns to mark the Minutemen they see with yellow paint. It just seems appropriate.
Dean Hughson, Fountain Hills
Another excuse for idiots to draw: I cannot believe you would allow this filth in your paper. This so-called act of patriotism promotes ignorant people with a gun to pull a gun on anyone they believe is not a U.S. citizen (which is a crime).
This means any citizen can pull a gun on anyone they might believe is not a documented immigrant. The violence can really escalate if there is a mistake, or the other person decides to fight back.
The person writing about the illegal people in church praying for forgiveness must be very ignorant not to know that we are all created equally regardless of nationality and our beliefs. This nation is made up of immigrants, regardless of whether they are legal or illegal. Unless they're Native American, everyone came from another country. Our diversity is what makes us strong.
Fernando Mercado, Phoenix
Stay out of the garage: This was a joke, right? Half of the "Alienated" article was made up, right? I mean, I'm not that stupid, so I know that your column was written as a gag, but by the same token, I am never that surprised at how stupid people really are. Maybe those [vigilantes'] quotes are genuine?
Please tell me! I honestly forgot that I was reading New Times, and I thought I was reading The Onion.
If the Canadians on the golf course quote is genuine, I'll just have to go out to my car, start the engine and let it run for about six hours with the garage door closed. This is a world that I can't be a part of.
Michael George, via the Internet
More than false: What was the purpose of the false column you wrote? Was it to create mass paranoia? Was it to express racial hatred toward Mexican people? How can you have any credibility after this? Your story was full of racial negativity.
If that wasn't bad enough, you disrespected the Catholic religion. Where are your morals as a writer? As a concerned American citizen, I would like an apology. Maybe you can write a true story where Mexicans are recognized with dignity and respect.
Fernando Figueroa, via the Internet
Indigestible: Regarding Michael Lacey's "Alienated," just because he believes those bogus self-esteem notes his fourth-grade teacher put on his crayon scrawls, does New Times have to? Even the earthworms in my compost pile turned up their noses.
Barbara Vickroy, Escondido, California
A slice of Onion: I was just wondering if you were familiar with a newspaper titled The Onion. If you are not, you might be interested in picking up a copy and taking a look. In fact, better yet, you might be interested in contacting The Onion and applying for a job. This column is so ridiculous that I'm not sure if Phoenix New Times is a legitimate paper or just a big joke. Any newspaper that would print such "backwoods" viewpoints seems to be better-suited for toilet paper rather than reading material. Luckily, ignorance isn't contagious.
Valerie Jimenez, Los Angeles
A disgusting viewpoint: I don't understand why you felt such comments worthy of having a voice in your column. It is not informative -- it is simply disgusting. I cannot believe that you would offer individuals such as Andrew Thomas, Horst Shultze and Patrick Haab a soapbox for their ignorant views. Is this column reflective of your personal views? If not, I think you could have done more on your part to extinguish these views. For starters, you might not want to attach your name to such trash.
Andrea K. Jimenez, via the Internet
Does pranking preclude outrage?: This is a prank column, isn't it? It's good, but not as believable as some of the previous ones. I imagine some people will be outraged, but I thought the tone was too obviously in jest.
Eric Lindseth, Tempe
Racist vigilantism: Thank you for your continued work exposing the un-American activities of Arizona law enforcement officials. Why other news outlets (or public officials, for that matter) don't do something about this absurd illegal racist vigilantism is beyond me. What good is the governor when she can't rein in cowboy Nazis and their friends in local law enforcement? If there is any kind of movement or plan to do something about this, please, let me know how I can help.
Daniel Friedman, Tempe
Out-Foxed: You have got to be kidding. If three armed people held 800 people hostage in a church, it would be on CNN, Fox and everybody else. Even the Repulsive would have covered it.
Canadians??? You must have been watching Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon!!!
Paul Berardi, via the Internet
What is truth?: Is this stuff real, or do you make it up?
I think it's just too crude to be true. I mean, is this true?
L.P., via the Internet
Okay, so it's not. But actually, it would not be that surprising. I mean . . . I've been to Texas and Arizona. They are just not that open about it.
L.P., via the Internet
What the @#$% do you think?: Is this a prank column? The action taken by these individuals can't be legal, can it? You're absolutely correct, this guy is more of a maniac than Sheriff d@#$% bag.
Brandon Christie, Tempe
We all came from somewhere else: This has to be a put-on, I'm hoping, because I know where that church is, where all of those people were supposed to be held at gunpoint by Sheik Yer Bouti and the two other members of his so-called gang that they put together saying they're sick of the Mexicans. I have never read of anything like that. You know, I just don't get you people out here. Is this supposed to be funny?
I'm an Irish-American. I don't care who comes to this country. Everyone got here somehow. Your last name is Lacey, so you probably have English or Irish ancestors who came over here for the same reason, for religious freedom and the opportunity to better their lives including the Mexicans who are trying to do the same thing. I think it's a shame that if that was written in a manner of making it look like this is okay to do this kind of thing, it isn't. I'm not a bleeding heart, but I think that the people out here have fried their brains with too much sun and it's coming out in everything we're seeing and hearing.
Lynn Pasebier, Phoenix
It's just crazy enough to be true!: I had to read your article a couple of times.
The first time I read it, I didn't know what to think.
Man, these guys are way over the top.
Then it hit me, this is a joke, a satire. Yes, your story was funny.
At the same time, there was nothing to laugh about.
Your story is about criminals, "illegal aliens." Thus the word "illegal."
Mr. Lacey, are illegal aliens funny to you? Or maybe illegal aliens are funny to the New Times publication!!!
The New Times advertises goods, services and entertainment.
Do low-paid workers use the goods, services and entertainment you advertise? If so, how much do they spend?
I'll be kind, there is no way to know the answer to this question.
It is a fact, people who don't have much money cut back on things they don't need.
All of society is hurt by low wages.
When a foreign worker undermines your wages, that takes a car out of your garage, it takes a bedroom out of your house.
Hell, it steals a college education from one of your family members.
We live in Arizona. I hate to break it to you, we have a water shortage here.
People that don't belong here are using the water.
Look at the effect on the school system.
The list goes on.
In the case of the "Mexican," they are not running from death squads and leftist revolutionaries.
Who is responsible for the economic situation in Mexico, could it be Mexicans?
That Third World group comes here, spreading their economic problems in another country, the United States.
Do you remember the television commercials, from the veterans' administration?
"Freedom Isn't Free," this was sung with the American flag waving.
I happen to agree, "FREEDOM ISN'T FREE."
It has a price tag.
At the same time that we are the most democratic country, we are also "capitalistic."
What are you free to do or be without money?
What are you free to do or be without a job?
What are you free to do or be without a fair wage?
Take a look at labor department stats.
Fact, places that people work that have a large number of nationals from another country, the wages are eroded 17 percent.
How much freedom does a person have when they have their wages undermined by foreign workers?
In an effort to be politically correct, there are many nationalities that are illegal here in Arizona.
It's a shame that here in Arizona there is one group of people that come to mind when a person thinks of "illegals."
Seeing how "illegals" are funny to you, I think a relocation center should be built next door to where you reside.
You could volunteer your time there.
These people work hard and they could use your help!!!
Name withheld by request
Doing our civic duty: I know you know what is going on, but hopefully you can put this in writing somewhere. I can't believe we would have a county attorney who's this racist. Now, I do understand that illegal aliens should be kicked out of the country at all costs, and now if citizens have to step up and do it, that's one thing, but the government should step in and create millions of jobs that would help the economy and stop it. But until then, it's a civic duty to do so, but the people we have doing it are also promoting racism. The mañana attitude? What's that supposed to mean? And those wetbacks on Interstate 8 aren't the only suspicious ones? Every Sunday in Valley churches down on their knees begging for forgiveness?
Well, you know what? I'm Italian and Mexican, but I'm an American and I'm Catholic. And on Sundays I am down on my knees praying, but I'm not asking for forgiveness. This is just complete bullshit, and with this county attorney promoting racism like this, I'm going to try to form a group and get him thrown out of office. You know what? No matter how bad the situation gets, we don't need racists running our country. I know there are, but we need to start somewhere, and it will start with him. Next is Mr. Arpaio.
Building a wall: After reading the column about the three off-duty baggage inspectors holding 800 Hispanics at gunpoint in their church, I was thoroughly disgusted with this redneck racist state of Arizona. I can't believe they were not prosecuted. If we don't want the illegal aliens in this country, then why don't we build a fence big enough to keep them out? I know we Americans have enough money to build it, but why don't we? Many of you want to exploit Hispanic workers to help your businesses become more profitable, but when it comes time to take out all of your life's frustrations, these same workers and their families have to suffer. What hypocrisy. I am sure business owners love the cheap wages they pay Hispanic workers, and as many of them quote: "I get twice the work for half of the pay from illegal workers." Americans know Hispanics who come here are desperate for money.
If you lived in a country like Mexico where you couldn't even make enough money to put food on the table for your family, you would be here, too! If you want to complain about how much they drain the system, then make a wall tall enough so they can't climb over it. It is every American's fault for not pushing the government to build that wall. Instead, we let Mexican migrants risk their lives trying to make it across the desert by foot, or crammed into trucks like sardines, unable to use the restroom for hours at a time and barely able to breathe. Then, if they make it here, we hire them for disgustingly low wages and give them no benefits. It's no wonder they use the emergency room as their family doctor. They have no health care. Americans complain that our tax dollars pay for their hospital visits, but we are the ones who let them cross the border.
Now they have to worry about some outraged racist pigs holding them hostage at gunpoint? This is unbelievable behavior, especially attacking them in their place of worship. I can't believe Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is allowing this. You people carry so much hatred in your heart; why don't you use that energy to build a wall? I thought America was all about diversity and tolerance. Our nation is filled with people from many countries. If we make it more difficult for Hispanics to move here, we wouldn't have such a problem. They would have to go through all of the same legal processes that other people from other countries do.
In the meantime, can we please let the police handle the illegal aliens? Men with guns walking around with nothing better to do than take out their hostilities on people who are worshiping in church. I seriously doubt they found any marijuana in church! The drugs that are killing Americans are cocaine, crack and heroin. Why don't we focus on bringing down the white people who are making and distributing the drugs that actually kill? Mexicans are not involved much with these more dangerous drugs. I can guarantee the people who are smuggling marijuana across the border from Mexico are legal, or else how would they make it across the border? I don't think they are carrying it with them while they run across!
If these men who are holding Hispanics hostage want to have the power of the law, then why don't they join the police force or go to war in Iraq where we really need them? In the meantime, stop complaining about a problem America has created by allowing them easy access to crossing the border.
Anonymous, via the Internet
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Sheik, sheik, sheik . . . : I found out the other day that your essay really upset one of my co-workers. He wasn't upset at you for writing it, he was upset about the horrible injustice done to the congregation of Immaculate Heart.
I was interminably amused by his inability to recognize satire.
Of course, the reaction of some people who defended Patrick Haab does make you wonder if there aren't those who would try to hold a church at gunpoint. I grew up thinking that authorities demanding to see your "papers" was something that only happened behind the Iron Curtain or in Nazi Germany, and we now have people in the United States who are suddenly in favor of anyone being able to demand that you produce your "papers" or be held at gunpoint until police arrive.
Keep up the good work, and I appreciated seeing "Sheik Yer Bouti" getting some press. I haven't heard much from him since the late Frank Zappa's tribute album to him.
Danny Wright, Glendale