Table Talk

I am not a Texan. Nor a Republican. Nor even a Baptist. And when I saw the cover on immigration, I thought, “Uh-oh, here we go.” Then I saw “The Immigration Dinner Party” and read the profiles of the guests [November 2010]. I figured at least half would end up swallowing their chicken-fried steak the wrong way and it would kill them dead. So imagine my surprise at being privy to a civil discussion and my complete shock at wholeheartedly agreeing with Richard Land, who I believe has the complete-package solution (I would have preferred a recommended three-to-five-year jail term for those employing illegals, because they are the problem, but I could support his one-year-sentence suggestion, as long as it was mandatory and hard time). This is a gumbo of an issue—filled with rhetoric, misstatement of facts, cultural clashes, money, and personal tragedy—that everyone has an oversimplistic opinion about. So thanks for a well-written article and a smart guest list.
Mark Mochow
Natchitoches, Louisiana

It might be time for Representative Leo Berman to stop and smell the (Tyler) roses. He seemed to have conveniently forgotten during the dinner party that undocumented citizens do indeed pay for school, hospital, and road and bridge expenses in Texas and all other states in which they live and work. How? Whenever anyone, documented or not, pays for an apartment or a home, the funds collected are in part used to pay local property taxes. In these days of few dollars, Mr. Berman, be thankful an illegal, undocumented citizen helped you and Smith County out—else your share might have been a lot more.
Richard D. Stafford
Atlanta, Georgia

Your November issue is truly excellent. It is my hope that what you presented brings reason and understanding to a very complex problem. Your dinner party clearly shows the great differences that need to be surmounted. Particularly striking are the statements and arguments by Leo Berman and Debbie Riddle, one using unverified numbers in support of his arguments, the other presenting myths and fictions as truths and realities. I recommend to both David Bacon’s Illegal People and Aviva Chomsky’s “They Take Our Jobs!” Their reading should contribute to their education.
Jose Gonzalez Jauregui

Two huge aspects bother Texans most about illegal immigrants. One, immigrants knowingly break our law by entering the country and get away with it. Two, they often sponge on free health care and free education. But there is no way—none, nada—that government officials are going to locate, process, try in court, and then deport and follow up on most of the 1.7 million illegal immigrants in the state. So what to do realistically? Establish a screening process that enables pathways to citizenship for many. True, they would be rewarded for illegal entry. But by granting citizenship, requiring the payment of fines, and putting them on tax rolls, we get back some of what they took, and they pay their fair share of taxes in the future. Otherwise they simply remain in the shadows, paying little or nothing and taking much. Our getting half a loaf is better than no loaf.
Ronald L. Trowbridge

Vicious Cycle

How refreshing to see a Texas publication address the elephant in the Lance Armstrong room [“LiveStrong, TellTruth,” November 2010]. While Michael Hall does gently suggest that the emperor might be scantily dressed, he may not have realized that he’s feeding the problem when he refers to Lance as a “god.” He’s a man. And he may have cheated to gain the god status he is credited with. But the cheating on the bike is not a big deal in my mind: Athletes are entertainers, who stand to get stinkin’ rich if they win.

But I take issue with Mr. Hall’s assertion that Lance’s offense is somehow greater than Clemens’s, Bonds’s, or Tiger’s, since “they never saved anybody.” While LiveStrong has an honorable mission—and may the organization forever do well—Lance’s hurting image needs the association much more than he needs its generous monetary benefits. Surely we can all see by now that it’s not about the bike, or even cancer: It’s about Lance. And who wants to be the last sap supporting him?
John Davis
Santa Cruz, California

To most Austinites, Lance Armstrong is a local hero. His story is inspirational, and he has always represented the USA, Austin, and his sport with class. He used his fame for good by spending a huge amount of his time raising money to help cancer victims.

Because he is a superstar, he has been the constant target of assertions by jealous, resentful, or otherwise questionable people and groups. All these assertions have proved to be baseless, despite his being the most-tested and most-observed athlete in cycling.

Your article is another example of these baseless assertions. It creates a straw man argument and convicts Mr. Armstrong without a shred of proof. I don’t know what your motives are for this smearing of Mr. Armstrong, but I assure you this is offensive to a great many people.
Scott Hearne
via e-mail

A Tip of the Hat

The short wave of greeting or acknowledgment to an oncoming car or pickup with the fingers of the hand holding the steering wheel was standard operating procedure when I grew up and started driving out in West Texas [The Texanist, November 2010]. Everyone did it. If someone failed to return the greeting, you could be pretty sure he was a Yankee or a Californian or maybe an Okie.

I went off to Austin to school at the university and found that in Central Texas, the howdy greeting was honored more in the breach than in the observance. So even fifty years ago, the gesture was declining. I now live in San Antonio and rarely even try anymore.

When I go out to West Texas—which I do as often as possible—it still works some, but only with ranch folks in pickups wearing straw or felt Western hats!

I enjoyed your recall to a long-ago time.
Michael Bell
San Antonio