Earlier this month a tourist – William R. Strong, from Oil City, PA – wrote a letter to newspapers around New Mexico, following a trip here. You can read his bullshit letter here, and the follow up article here.
This was the response I sent to the Oil City newspaper, the Pittsburgh newspapers, and to Mr. Strong.
I am a life-long resident of New Mexico. Tourism is one of the main drivers of the economy in New Mexico, and we welcome visitors with open arms. With fine dining, amazing art, a 500-year history, diverse cultures, and amazing vistas, it’s no wonder we are called the Land of Enchantment. Earlier this month a resident of Oil City, PA – William R. Strong – visited the fine state of New Mexico with his wife. Following his visit he wrote a letter to all major newspapers expressing his disappointment in his trip. One paper even did a follow up article. It seems he was not so enchanted.
New Mexico is a swing state, with a fairly even split between Democrats and Republicans. We’ve been this way as long as I can remember, and it’s never been a huge issue. The diversity of thought and opinion is another reason New Mexico is so great.
Mr. Strong (a Trump supporter) chose to get in a political argument with people in one of the more liberal towns. Rather than accept that the people he argued with were individuals representing themselves, Mr. Strong chose to publicly denounce all those who live in New Mexico, calling us “radical feminists, angry Indians, and illegal Mexicans.”
After this encounter, he instigated another argument with a local Native American vendor. His response to that was “They call themselves Native Americans, but anybody that’s right-minded knows that America was an uninhabited country and some of the Indians moved in there…They’re still Indians to me.”
In the follow up article, Mr. Strong said “All I was trying to do was speak to the good people of New Mexico saying ‘Hey, this radical fringe here, you need to crack down on them because they’re scaring your tourists… I want the good, right-minded-thinking people of New Mexico to take care of this problem.’”
Mr. Strong is clearly ignorant of the history of the United States and Native Americans. And his response to engaging with someone who dare vocally disagree with him was to call for others in the state to shut them down. How hypocritical, Mr. Strong.
I’d also like to point out that a public comment on his Facebook page, made in response to his friend, reads “Your husband needs severe help. Homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to the lord. How can you stay with a guy like that? It has to be force or blackmail.”
I know that all residents of Pennsylvania are not nearly as closed-minded, bigoted, homophobic, and ignorant as Mr. Strong, and I would never deign to make a blanket insult to the people of Pennsylvania like Mr. Strong did to New Mexicans. Maybe it’s something in the water in Oil City. Maybe people in your neck of the woods don’t know much about the rich history of the beautiful Southwest. I invite all of you to visit New Mexico with open minds and open hearts. Engage in respectful dialogue with diverse peoples. Take the time to actually learn about the history of the state with the oldest capitol city. But please – leave your bigotry, hatred, and homophobia at home. It is not welcome.
Alexis Brown, Radical Feminist, Angry Indian, and Friend to Mexicans from Santa Fe, NM
Update July 7, 2016: It seems my letter hit a nerve with Mr. Strong and he has written to local papers yet again. It’s worth noting that the only hateful or inflammatory words used in my letter were quotes of Mr. Strong.