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Danehy

It's past time to take down Tucson's Pancho Villa statue

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To the best of my knowledge, despite the fact that there are millions of Americans with Italian heritage (myself included), there aren't any statues of Benito Mussolini anywhere in the United States. Likewise, there aren't statues of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto or Herman Goehring or Osama Bin Laden, even though there are millions of Americans who can trace their roots to Japan or Germany or the Middle East. The reason that we're never going to have statues of these people in the United States is that each of these people directed operations that killed Americans.

Why, then, is there a statue of Pancho Villa smack dab at the entrance to Downtown Tucson...Arizona...USA? Why does this vile swine, who deserves only a gravesite to be pissed upon, instead get a statue? He doesn't deserve one in his own country, let alone in ours. He killed dozens of Americans, calmly and coldly, on more than one occasion. And yet, there it stands, after all these years.

If you asked 100 Tucsonans who (and what) Pancho Villa was, those who would claim that he was somehow a "revolutionary" are prone to defining things so broadly that they probably believe that a phallic symbol is anything that's longer than it is wide.

War is ugly and revolution can be extra ugly. Those who have studied the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th century will probably agree that it was less of a politically driven upheaval and more like a Demolition Derby, last man standing.

The Mexican Revolution was understandably messy, with constantly shifting loyalties and former allies squaring off and fighting to the death. Several of the key players were eventually assassinated, including one-time Presidents Francisco Madero, Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregon, as well as Emiliano Zapata and Villa himself. But all that mess was just power-hungry guys being power-hungry guys. What Villa did at other times is completely indefensible.

In Mexico, he is most reviled for his attacks of the villages of San Pedro de la Cueva and Namiquipa. After suffering a humiliating defeat to Carranza's forces in The Battle of Agua Prieta (across the border from Douglas, Arizona), Villa retreated. What was left of his army entered San Pedro de la Cueva, where Villa personally killed the village priest and then ordered his men to kill 74 male villagers of fighting age.

Namiquipa had long been a Villa stronghold in the state of Chihuahua, but then Villa's band attacked the town, killed many of the men and herded the town's women into animal pens, where they were gang-raped by Villa's men. This probably didn't bother Villa a whole lot, as he was known to rape young teenage girls throughout his reign of terror.

And then there's his killing of Americans. After suffering that ass-whuppin' at Agua Prieta, Villa's men attacked a train near Santa Isabel, Chihuahua. They slaughtered 17 Americans, including 15 who worked for the American Smelting and Refining Company. (Villa admitted to having ordered the attack.) In 1916, Villa attacked the town of Columbus, New Mexico. Eighteen Americans died in the raid, which was carried out for no reason other than the fact that Villa was a pissy little bitch.

I've hated that statue for nearly 40 years. I hated the fact that Bruce Babbitt, who saw himself as a rising star in the Democratic Party until he unleashed the military on striking mine workers in Graham County, showed no testicular capacity whatsoever by allowing the statue to be erected. Even laid-back Tucson Mayor Lew Murphy had enough sense to boycott the unveiling, telling the City Council members "if you're smart, you won't attend either."

Over the years, there have been movements to take down (or destroy) the monstrosity, but it still stands as a screw you to all Americans. I've had discussions with academics and community activists who, at best, can only offer tepid arguments in favor of the murderous tyrant. Stuff like, "Well, it's complicated." No, it isn't; he killed Americans. Or "things happen in the fog of war." War is war, but mass rape is rape.

Suddenly, the time may be right. All across the country, statues of men who waged war against the United States are being toppled. Statues of the traitorous Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are coming down, as are those of their henchmen, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart.

I once said that it would be OK for those statues to remain as long as the truth was attached to them: "Robert E. Lee probably could have prevented the deaths of 600,000 Americans simply by upholding his sworn duty to defend the Constitution of the United States. Instead, he chose treason. He also owned human beings. President Lincoln punked him by seizing Lee's plantation, Arlington, and turning it into the national cemetery." Yeah, that would work.

(Of course, Donald Trump, who will forever be remembered as having been on the wrong side of history, defends the Confederate statues, using words like "heritage" and "legacy" while doing so. What happened to his categorization of people as winners or losers? Every single Confederate traitor ended up a loser.)

It is long past time to add the statue of the murderous rapist Villa to the trash heap of history. That statue is coming down, sooner or later, one way or another. Might as well do it now.

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