« Return to this article

Know the West

Missing the mark in New Mexico


I typically have a lot of respect for HCN’s journalism, but I think you missed the mark on the role tourism plays in New Mexico (“The Atomic Road Trip,” 5/13/19). In a state that has traditionally relied on an extraction-based economy (which is, in fact, true destruction), tourism offers rural communities a chance to highlight the things that make a place unlike any other in the world. Authors LuLing Osofsky and Key MacFarlane are quick to degrade Roswell’s kitschy alien stuff, but it’s what makes Roswell different and is an economic driver for the town. It’s no secret that New Mexico has very real problems, but tourism gives a glimmer of hope to everyday New Mexicans, especially those in rural communities. 

More broadly, I get the authors’ point, that the atrocities that were caused from the development of the atomic bomb and the horrific genocide committed by Oñate are there and still very raw. But I urge everyone to confront this head-on and learn from it.

Yes, there are ghosts here, and we acknowledge them. But we’ve got to wake up to how it is now and what can be done to make it a better place today. So I urge everyone to road-trip through New Mexico and reflect on its stark beauty, wonderful people, and the history we can all learn from to inform a better future. It’s actually a wonderful thing. Quite contrary to what these authors, and apparently HCN, would have you believe. 

Bryce Turner
Santa Fe, New Mexico