What's in a Name?
Our friend who now lives in Tyrone sent us your article on "The Million-Dollar Ghost Town" (August), which we thoroughly enjoyed. How was the name Tyrone designated for the city? Perhaps I missed it in the article.
Author Jim Kelly replies:
The most popular story, and probably truest, is that the town was named after County Tyrone in Ireland. There are various other stories about how the town got its name, but those are probably just tales that got passed around.
There is a lesson to be learned here, however. Place names are almost never derived from such obvious relations as Tyrone, Ireland, and Tyrone, New Mexico. Take Snowflake, Arizona, for example. It would seem that a snow event of some kind gave the town its name, but such is not the case. The town was founded by two men, Erastus Snow and William J. Flake, early Mormon pioneers.
On a lighter note, I don't think we want to know how Licking, Missouri, got its name.
I offer you the opportunity to explain why Economics 101, submitted by "CharlesC," was printed in your September 2009 publication (Desert Diary). If you were unable to comprehend that his framing of the mortgage bubble collapse was both racist and elitist, then please allow me to point out the code words:
Detroit = black
unemployed alcoholic = low-income home buyer
First and foremost, his is not an accurate depiction of the events leading up to the unfortunate economic disaster that has left millions homeless, and bankrupted the retirement funds of millions more. Many employed, middle-class, non-drinking home buyers have faced foreclosure due to no fault of their own. It is happening every day.
Your decision to print such poorly camouflaged racist slander is regretful. Is it your policy to promote these stereotypes? If so, please let me know so that I can tell others.
Either you agree with this simplistic interpretation of a complex story involving corporate greed, accounting manipulation, and a criminal lack of proper government regulation and oversight in the marketplace, or you are just too uninformed to even have a clue about these subjects.
Whichever the case may be, when you choose to print a story that characterizes the victims of these economic vultures as "unemployed alcoholics" living in "Detroit," you might as well just pull a white sheet over your head.
Reader contributions to our Desert Diary column are selected primarily for their humorous value, although they may also express a point of view with which we don't necessarily agree. While Desert Diary entries may occasionally err on the racy side, we never knowingly print an item offensive to any racial, ethnic or religious group. If this economics fable offended anyone, we apologize.
We confess, however, to being flabbergasted at this racial interpretation. We think it far more likely that whoever originated this Internet-spread story chose Detroit (if not simply at random) because the city represents the US auto industry, which has been as hard-hit as the housing economy. If the story were actually meant to depict a bar in an African-American neighborhood, it seems unlikely that the fictional bartender would have been named "Heidi."
Moreover, we're hardly alone in "pulling a white sheet" over our heads by reproducing this yarn. A quick Internet search finds 4,230 instances of the same tale, all but 135 setting it in Detroit. Among those sharing the joke about Heidi's bar were the well-known Motley Fool investing site, Politico, Google Finance, New Jersey Real Estate Report, Daily Comedy and Media Circus.
For a serious editorial analysis of the recent economic crisis, we refer readers instead to the April 2009 Editor's Notebook, "Before the Bailouts."
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