Tuesday, December 4, 2018

One Of Our Fifty…

I’ve lived in New Mexico — twice, actually — so this story is nothing new to me or anyone who’s lived there, but I thought it was interesting that it has become a somewhat national story.

A New Mexico man applying for a marriage license in Washington, D.C., this month had his state driver’s license rejected as a form of identification because a clerk and her supervisor believed New Mexico was a foreign country.

Gavin Clarkson, a Las Cruces, N.M., resident, said he was at the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau on Nov. 20 applying for a license to wed his then-fiancée when their nuptial plans hit a brief snag. The clerk told him he would need an international passport on the apparent belief that he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

“She thought New Mexico was a foreign country,” he said of the clerk as quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News. “All the couples behind us waiting in line were laughing.”

Clarkson was a recent candidate for New Mexico secretary of state and is a member of the Choctaw Nation. He said he protested the clerk’s decision to her supervisor, who also failed to recognize New Mexico as a state.

“You know you are from flyover country when you are applying for a marriage license, give them your New Mexico driver’s license, and they come back and say ‘my supervisor says we cannot accept international driver’s licenses. Do you have a New Mexico passport?’ ” Clarkson tweeted.

This happens so often that New Mexico, the magazine put out by the state’s tourism office, has a regular feature, “One of Our 50 Is Missing,” regaling readers with tales of people in other places mistaking New Mexico for a foreign country.  As a matter of record, it’s the fifth-largest state in area and it’s been a state since 1912, coming into the union before Arizona.

Just to make sure the word gets out, the state’s license plates confirm that the Land of Enchantment is one of ours.

However, given the state of education — don’t they teach geography any more? — and the fear of Others put into the mind by the foolish and the weak in this country, I’m pretty sure that the magazine and the Missing 50 will have plenty of stories to tell for a long time.

5 barks and woofs on “One Of Our Fifty…

  1. My father was born in New Mexico, and told stories of various encounters where he was asked if he was naturalized. Mom had the best one, since she was asked about marrying a foreigner…

  2. I remember reading an article a few years ago by a college professor who noted that only about a third of his students could find their home town on a map. It included world maps with the country names filled in by the students. They were pretty bizarre.

    I admit to being a little vague on some of the African nations, which became independent after I had studied geography, but really — thinking New Mexico is a foreign country?

    • I used to ask people unsure about the location of New Mexico, what do you think is that big square state between Texas and Arizona? The answers were usually Nevada, Colorado, or California.

  3. Maybe people from NM can just tell clerks that they are from the famous American state of North Montana or North Michigan or North Missouri or North Maine. All they’re going to type in is NM, and so they don’t need to know what it means. And anyone who doubts New Mexico would have no reason to doubt the others. The trick is to start by never speaking the M-word, but just say you’re from N.M. while only giving the initials. Once you admit to being from (new) Mexico, they’ll want to build a wall around you.
    Then you can tell them your favorite US tourist destination is ThreeCorners, where the three states of AZ, CO, and UT meet at one point. It’s a funny place for an international border crossing, but so far the Navajo Nation has not yet built a wall to keep us out.

Speak!