SF Weekly Letters

Let Katy Do It
Bar column is brilliant: Katy St. Clair's column [Bouncer] is the reason I pick up SF Weekly. I like to check out the movie reviews, too. People like St. Clair are also one of the reasons I gave up trying to write for a profession. I hated everything I ever wrote, and why torture myself when I can pick up a free rag and read her brilliant musings? I got worried when her column went missing last week — glad to see it's back. Her writing is unique and a joy to consume, week after week.

Jim Lee

San Francisco

More Than a Rat's Life
Not an accurate picture: We write to express our outrage at the article and the cover of SF Weekly ["A Rat's Life," Lauren Smiley, 4/27]. We are Salvadoran American leaders from San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area. While we will outline our objections to the article, we are appalled at the fact that we can't recall another time your publication covered any of our community events or issues that matter to us. Nearly one in seven San Franciscans is Latino; more than half are Central American. Salvadorans are by far the largest single group of Central Americans in the city.

It is disappointing that, rather than focus on the great contributions Salvadoran Americans are making to this city, SF Weekly has followed the national trend of focusing only on a small slice of the Salvadoran American experience, which by no means represents the majority of the hard-working community. Our objections are as follows:

The front cover picture sensationalizes gangs and perpetuates their dehumanization. In failing to present a more complex reality of why gangs exist, the article perpetuates the notion that Central Americans, Mexicans, and other Latin American immigrants are culturally violent and gang-prone. This opens the door for opportunistic politicians to push laws that discriminate against our community.

The article makes virtually no effort to humanize gang life. It does not discuss the social conditions and institutionalized oppression that gives rise to gangs. The article itself focuses on snitching among gang members rather than the institutional criminality of local and federal authorities. While the article does criticize the use of provocateurs by police and federal authorities to infiltrate gangs, its focus on the backstabbing among gang members diverts attention from this more serious public issue.

While gangs are a serious problem in our community, other issues also affect us, including the so-called Secure Communities Program and the attendant deportation of law-abiding residents, the wrongful deportation of children, and low-performing schools in predominantly Latino neighborhoods. Indeed, it is impossible to understand Latinos' gang involvement without taking account of these issues — just as it impossible to understand our community by focusing on gangbangers.

We Salvadorans are community leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, chefs, artists, and much, much more. We request that your newspaper stop inciting fear and dehumanizing us, and instead portray our community in all its complexity.

Victor Umana, Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce of the San Francisco Bay Area; Ana Perez, the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN); Jose Artiga, Share Foundation; Martin Martinez, Santa Rosa Hometown Association; Andrea Hightower, CISPES; David Mendoza, Mano de Esperanza; Roberto Alfaro, Three Nations Indian Circle; Roberto Hernandez, Ramón Cardona, Edwin Rodriguez, Roberto Alfaro, Patricia Rodriguez, Pastor Tony Lopez

Managing editor Alan Scherstuhl responds: SF Weekly remains committed to covering all aspects of life in San Francisco, including the Latino and Central American communities. This includes gang activity, of course, but hardly just that. Lauren Smiley has often covered issues of concern to these communities before "A Rat's Life," most recently in her March 16 cover story "U-Visa." As for "A Rat's Life": Besides detailing the troubling involvement of federal informants in high-profile crimes, Smiley's feature lays out — with sympathy — the consequences of law enforcement's assumption that a young Salvadoran man picked up in the Mission must be a gang member.

Last week's cover story ("Brokeback Festival," Joe Eskenazi, 5/4) stated that a $157,000 loan from the city to the LGBT Community Center was used "to make its mortgage payments." Officials at the center note that the city funds were, in fact, placed into a reserve fund stipulated by the bank as a condition of renegotiating its mortgage.

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We should all learn something from the Death of Osama Bin Laden. What is that, you ask? Store your sex toys and Lube away from your computer, empty your cookies and wipe out the sites you visited (at least once a week) and do not store more than 10 PORN HUB clips on your computer at any one time. Now everyone is snickering at him and calling Bin Laden a PERV!!! The leader of Al Queda has three wives in bed with him and he needs PORN?!!!

Poor Uncle Bennie!!! I mean, put your self in Bin Laden's position. You are in bed with your three wives, its 0100hrs in the morning and the US Government is kicking in your door---how would you respond? Me? I'd be screaming "Goddamn it, where's my pants? You bitches should have told me your husband would be coming home early". My wives would be screaming "Bennie, You're Home and we are Your Wives!!!" That would PISS ME OFF!!! I'd go "H-E-Y!!! This ain't Rancho Cordova and I ain't got no MED-WEED in the House. I wanna see some ID's RIGHT NOW, DAMN IT!!! Then I'd get a warning shot (through the heart and left eye) because 'I was armed and resisting arrest like they do in fill in the blank..."

People ask me if I fear a terrorist attack now that Bin Laden is dead. I say NO! America does not fear Al Queda and America does not fear the Taliban. Just like America did not fear Adolf Hitler or the Kaiser. The only people I fear is them GODDAMN Canadians!!! Dig it: Twice we invaded Canada (1777 and 1814) and TWICE them Mother-fuckers handed us our ass!!! Don't even get me started on the LAST TIME them Canadians kicked our ass. They came over here, burnt down our capital, drank up all our liqour, sexed out all our wives and girlfriends while forcing us, at gun point, to sing Beatles Songs while they were doing it. MOTHERFUCKERS!!! I mean, 'LONG-DISTANT TRUCKERS", Hey? All Canadians are hard working people and I wouldn't say anything bad about our Canadian Allies. Hey? We love Canada, Hey? Ich Bin Ein Canadian, Hey?!!!


That letter from the Salvadoran chamber of commerce and the rest of the gang is pretty amazing. It took that letter for me to read the whole article. The open minds of the authors of that letter have let their brains fall out.

Who has dehumanized gangsters? Well that would be the gangsters themselves. People who do such things as say, serial crime and murder, don't deserve understanding or compassion since they are devoid of it.

The persecution fantasies are also interesting, not agreeing with people who claim to speak for wide swaths of people just adds to these peoples fantasies. The letter complains about laws targeting their "community." What community is that, are the authors claiming criminals as part of their community? I would never acknowledge violent and dumb skinheads as part of any community I would ever belong to, but they claim MS-13 members?

Yes there are plenty of legal immigrants from all over the world who have contributed greatly to the USA, conflating those people with criminal trash is repulsive.

There is more rich nonsense to mine in that tragicomic letter, but why, just more whining.


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