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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frontiers of Geographical Illiteracy

Tina Nguyen reports at Mediaite:
WFTV Washington correspondent Justin Gray was flying back to DC from Orlando, Fla., when a TSA agent halted him for holding a license from a state he didn’t recognize, and asked him for his passport. Gray was confused: he didn’t bring his passport, because his District of Columbia driver’s license should have been sufficient. The agent insisted that he didn’t recognize it.

People from New Mexico have a similar problem.  In 2007, Lynn Neary reported at NPR:
Let's say you really need a vacation. You decide to stay here in the U.S. but when you're making your plane reservations, the booking agent advices you to bring a valid passport to the airport. Not possible, you say?
Well, if you live in New Mexico, it may sound familiar because it turns out some people don't realize that New Mexico is part of the United States. In fact, this happen so often that New Mexico Magazine has a monthly compilation of these stories called "One Of Our 50 Is Missing." Its editor is Walter Lopez. He joins us now from Santa Fe.
Hi, Walter. Good to have you with us.
Mr. WALTER LOPEZ (Editor, New Mexico Magazine): Hi. How are you doing?
NEARY: You know, Walter, when I first heard this, I really couldn't believe it. How often does this really happen that Americans don't know that New Mexico is one of the 50 states?
Mr. LOPEZ: It happens quite often. Normally, I would say in 50 to 100 different submissions a month.
NEARY: Do you have any favorites?
Mr. LOPEZ: Yeah. Yeah. Our favorite story is Phil, who lives in Santa Fe and he had a relative who was competing in the Atlanta Olympics so he desperately wanted tickets. So he gave them a call and the lady said, well, you got to have to call the Mexican Consulate in order to order your tickets. And he said, why is that? I'm in the United States. I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The supervisor said, old Mexico, New Mexico it's still the same. You're going to have to call the Consulate.