Despite the jovial atmosphere, the presence of border agents in Tombstone, eating brisket like the rest of us, on soil that had once been used by Native Americans, smacked of the same racial and greedy thrust that led to their systematic eradication. Then, cowboys and injuns would effectively battle it out for the land, ore, and other resources justified at some level by the wretched and repugnant concept of race science. Now, the descendants of the victors in that war fought to keep what their ancestors had taken by force–on one side the Orwellian-named ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and on the other, the invading hordes of brown “coyotes”, “jihadist” and “aliens”. In the shadow of 9/11 and the advent of the misguided, endless“War on Terror”, I had realized, changed so many things in so many subtle, frightening ways. The “land of freedom” had grown increasingly paranoid it seemed, so too had the “Wild West”.
As I packed up to return to Phoenix, I considered going to the Saguaro National Park, but I was once again losing the sun and the sky had become bitter, grey, and overcast. As much as I wanted to end my day riding off into the sunset, like the heroes in the old Westerns, I’d have to be content just simply riding off.