By: Luis Enrique Miranda
An editorial

If you read the article Tom Fenton wrote on the history of his publication for the 20th anniversary of El Paso Inc., it becomes clear how present image and status are at the forefront of the inception and purpose of the paper.

Fenton makes sure to lay out and repeat over and over how important image is to him. His stated goal was to target a niche audience who he views as the successful business class. He set out to provide content that will inspire them and anyone who happens to subscribe to the paper.

It is safe to say that Fenton has some very narrow ideas and views about life and what success should be and look like. That could not have been clearer in the recent interview he did with KVIA for a segment on a homeless camp that has been growing in an alley near his office headquarters.

During the interview Fenton brought up valid concerns for the public health such as the littering of needles. However, Fenton fails the most basic of empathy tests, after all the issue really is human. These folks are the ones suffering the full effects of the Chihuahuan desert without respite.

But for Fenton, his only concern is his image and his property. He did not frame this as an issue for the people living in the streets, and KVIA is complicit, they also did not tell the story of a humanitarian crisis.

They told the story of how dirty things are for the wealthy business owners.

The blame for this unethical piece being published ultimately falls on KVIA for running a story like this. Fenton is a flawed journalist, but he is just present to provide commentary. KVIA however took it upon themselves to form and develop a narrative of property rights over human rights.

This is a prime example of unethical journalism, and how our cultural norms and practices influence what is considered objective, where a more critical eye will find bias. How can one seriously argue that the right of clean property supersedes the rights of human lives to live and act in free will?

After all, much of the criticism in the reporting is levied against Sacred Heart volunteers who have a right to spend their free time feeding the hungry.

Sorry Fenton, but the truth is you have a right to leave, after all you are the wealthy one. Since you seem so enamored with capitalism and the mechanism of the free market, then leave the place you are situated at if it does not meet your standards. In other words, stop being so entitled Tom.

And as for the trash, he could volunteer to clean it. He and his employees could engage in a meaningful way with the part of the city that has been the home of their business. As someone who covers successful people, I am sure he is familiar with the concept that you shouldn’t wait around for something you want done to get done by someone else. It is incredibly unfortunate however, that what Fenton wants done is for these people to go hungry.

And where will they go? The report does little to emphasize they have no other options. We glean into the issues with shelters through the interviews with people living in the camp. However, for Fenton the answer seems obvious: Let them starve and get them out of my sight.

What a magnanimous and Christian viewpoint, I’m sure if you read bible passages Jesus would agree that starving the poor is a valid form of dealing with your neighbors in need.

Perhaps Fenton could use his leadership position responsibly and address social ills that affect all of us effectively and head on. Poverty, after all is a complex and less than glamorous issue, but he should show leadership by demonstrating it is an issue that affects all of us, and that we can move forward if we do it together. If he has the power to shape local news, he has the power and money to do more than complain.

Perhaps he could show initiative and be kind to his neighbors, and he may be surprised by the kindness and understanding he will get in return. These are people who need a support network, who need to be attended to seriously for them to recover from their condition.

The idea we could magically drive the homeless away, or have the police bust them up and send them somewhere else, is emblematic of how short sighted and ignorant the concept of policing is. It would be a displacement of these folks from where they live, without ever addressing the root causes. To make matters worse, this story helps the social notion that isolation is an effective tool to correct unwanted behavior while it only causes further damage to people.

We should instead take a page from Austin and provide homes for these folks, bring forth solutions, not complaints.

As for where the money could come from, perhaps Fenton could feel a little more charitable, or maybe one of our local billionaires should open their purse. I get the feeling he might know a few. But really, Austin gave us the solution. Instead of buying new headquarters for our frankly ungrateful, bloated and racist police department, who recently collaborated with ICE to deport a witness to a racist massacre, while providing a nice fresh haircut and a suit to the perpetrator when he first was presented in front of a court, we can pay for free housing for the homeless, so Fenton doesn’t have to worry anymore.

About the Author: Luis Enrique Miranda is a freelance journalist, translator and fixer who grew up in Juárez and El Paso. His work focuses on immigration and politics in the borderland.

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3 replies on “Tom Fenton – Aesthetics v. Poverty”

  1. Firstly, I love the courageous honesty of this piece- Luis, you highlight a very expansive issue and make it so palatable and relatable. I hope Mr. Fenton reads this and contemplates his position; poverty is a result of people like him and his friends, and if he is bothered by it he can use that for some interpersonal reflection.
    This article addresses the issues that our city government and their corporate allies often ignore but benefit from, thank you for amplifying the voices of the people (like a real journalist should).

  2. Perhaps Mr. Miranda should focus less on throwing out childish sarcasm and snide bromides at Mr. Fenton, and delve a little more into learning economics, finance, and budgeting works.

    This condescending and arrogant piece boils down to one young man thinking he knows how to solve the trials and travails of his fellow man by simply taking from others and redirecting it to his own self-righteous causes without any true understanding of why things occur. Capitalism has literally brought billions of people out of poverty over the past 150 years though technological innovation and fostered financial independence.

    Mr. Miranda’s ignorant writings suggest an arrogance that if only he was in charge of the whole world, it would be a better place. Unfortunately for him, life is far more complex than just shouting that the world is unfair. Hopefully, he figures it out one day.

  3. The author of this piece misses a lot and knows very little about the situation. 1. Solutions were offered and denied. 2. At what point will the homeless at the very least be help responsible to clean up their our messes. I taught my children that in Kindergarten. the author feels the homeless have a right to live that way while doing so affecting others, why doesn’t Mr Fenton have the same right? That do have options. This author is completely out of touch with reality and makes a lot of assumptions about the finances of an individual that has worked all his life to build a better life for his family and his those that work at his place of business. Lastly he has an obligation to provide a safe place for those that work at El Paso Inc. And by the how has Austin worked out, prop B passed making homelessness illegal.

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