Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Desert Museum Knuckles Under in Border War

The rampant asshattery swirling around the margins of the US-Mexico border security debate has slammed directly into the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the crown jewel of natural history here in Tucson. The museum is dedicated to the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, which has the temerity to extend across the international border to encompass portions of the states of Arizona (US) and Sonora (Mexico). Thus the name. The saguaros, cactus wrens, collared lizards, black-tailed deer, coyotes, mountain lions, and pygmy owls don't notice the line on the map--although they may well notice a 700-mile-long fence--and the exhibits at the museum don't distinguish the American Sonoran Desert from the Mexican Sonoran Desert unless actual differences in ecotone dictate.

So when you walk into the entrance you go past flagpoles with the American and Mexican (a gift from the Mexican government, 50 years ago) flags flapping in the breeze. Or at least you did, until yesterday. Yesterday both flagpoles were removed because people complained about Teh Messican flag flying on 'Murcan soil. Actually, some numbnuts went beyond "complaining."
The incendiary border debate not only fueled complaints about flying the Mexican flag, [Trustee Winifred Warden] said, but she had also heard there were death threats against the museum's animals.

Because that's the best way to have a rational debate about immigration: by threatening to kill animals that probably aren't going to cast deciding votes either way (although we can't be too sure about those shifty jaguarundis). And lord knows we can't have Mexican flags within eyesight of Real American patriots, lest they develop the irresistible urge to take low-paying crap jobs and unwind afterwards by watching soccer on Telemundo. The result is that an educational institution that makes its mission to demonstrate to people that the natural world exists independently of political borders feels it's best to remove an innocuous display rather than telling people to grow the fuck up, because those people are taking up more and more of the employees' time with their complaints and are threatening violence against innocent non-actors that have absolutely no bearing on the political issue at hand. What's that called, again? Oh, yeah, terrorism.

"The Mexican flag has not been there for 50 years to symbolize a territorial issue," [US Representative Raul] Grijalva said. "It represents an ecosystem that stretches across both borders and both nations. This is where the whole discussion about everything on the border kind of deteriorates. It's sad."

Grijalva said taking down the flag appears to be an overreaction.

"For the life of me, I can't understand the significance of taking it down and I can't understand who we are satisfying," he said. "This doesn't make the border more secure."

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