Alibi V.16 No.10 • March 8-14, 2007 


Oh, The Humanity!

New Mexico's quarter would've told it like it is

The New Mexico state quarter, slated to be released in 2008, is in the final stages of design. The last options for the coin are four variations of a zia overlapping an outline of New Mexico, three out of four also containing the phrase "Land of Enchantment." It's an accurate depiction of our state perhaps; but interesting? By no means.

Along with tedious, predictable hot air balloons (it's actually a bit surprising the balloons will not not be making it onto New Mexico's quarter), one of the preliminary designs under consideration was truly interesting.

No, the design wasn't a roadrunner, mountains, ristras, yuccas, pueblo pottery or anything like that. What state and federal officials actually considered for our state quarter was a bomb, represented by a mushroom cloud, and the phrases "Birthplace of the Atomic Bomb" and "Trinity--July 16, 1945." The idea is wholly honest and superbly frightening at once--propelled by the notion of historical acknowledgment, as in "Well, here's the thing about New Mexico ... ." By now, the final design's statement about New Mexico is pretty firmly "we're all about the zia and square-like trapezoids." The fate of our quarter is not the bomb, but the fate of our state could be.

On Friday, March 2, the National Nuclear Security Administration announced it chose a design for a new nuclear warhead that would replace the United States’ existing stock of decaying nukes. While the new "reliable replacement warhead" will be primarily produced by design competition winner Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (in California) and not our Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories will collaborate on the project. If taken to fruition—which may be unlikely, considering the amount of opposition already generated by the announcement—this would be the first H-bomb produced since the Cold War era.

With that in mind, our state, so eager to produce nuclear weapons, should share this eagerness with the world by celebrating it on our coins. This is our reality, so why not face it? The honesty is so ... brutal and ... admirable. To gaze upon our quarter would be to think both of America's muscular superiority and the horror our country visited upon the world (mostly Japan). So I vote for the bomb. Not the new bomb, or the assembly of new bomb parts in New Mexico, but for the bomb to be on our quarter. It would ... be ... so ... beautiful.