by David Safier
Larry McMurtry has lived in Tucson, he writes, " for most of the past 30 years," which I didn't know. But I do know his literary output, which includes "Lonesome Dove," "Last Picture Show," "Horseman, Pass By" (adapted for the screen as "Hud"), "Terms of Endearment" — a total of 30 novels. He's also a gun owner.
Here are some passages from his Thursday op ed in the Washington Post:
[Clarence] Dupnik has been elected eight times; few residents of Pima County can remember a time when he wasn't sheriff. He has been roundly criticized for his strictures about rabid speech. I thought that he was magnificent and his point obvious. Ask the Indians and the Mexicans; the latter are usually referred to as "illegal aliens," though none of them comes from outer space.
Dupnik is accused of being hard on Tucson, though he wasn't, particularly. I have lived in Tucson for most of the past 30 years and I love it. The barrio is elegant; there's good adobe; the Mexican food is excellent, particularly on the south side.
But I wouldn't call it easy, and I wouldn't call it safe.
It was from Tucson, in 1871, that the perpetrators of the Camp Grant massacre – more than 100 Apache women and children were clubbed to death – set out, and it was in Tucson that a hundred of the killers, at the insistence of President Ulysses S. Grant, were put on trial and acquitted in 19 minutes. The killers stole 27 Apache children, only six of whom were returned. This border has always been cruel.
In tourist Tucson you miss all this. The city does possess some Sonoran charm, though I would not call Sonora particularly safe, either.
The folks who run Tucson naturally do not want it compared to Tombstone, a mining community that, like other mining towns in Arizona, has always been hard. Tombstone, on Oct. 26, 1881, was the site of the most famous gunfight in American history – an accident, really. The three available Earp brothers – Morgan, Virgil and Wyatt – plus their friend Doc Holliday, merely wanted to run the troublesome Clantons out of town. But someone panicked, and the balloon, as we now say, went up.
Even so, only three people died, whereas Loughner alone accounted for six in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains.