Author: has written 6 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

13 Responses

  1. Mara
    Mara August 13, 2010 at 3:43 am |

    The thing those three people have in common- Liam Neeson, Pamela Anderson, Madeleine Albright- is that they are all naturalized US citizens. I think the point of including that list was probably to demonstrate that naturalized citizens are not second class in the US. (Provided of course that they are cis, het, white….)

  2. RD
    RD August 13, 2010 at 4:10 am |

    RE: waves of wheat/mid-west

    Or what about the Rockies esp. RMNP, the Tetons and Wind Rivers, Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, City of Rocks Idaho, Mesa Verde, Devil’s Tower/Mato Tipila, Castle Valley Utah, Death Valley, Zion National Park, Joshua Tree, Dinosaur National Monument, the Sonoran desert, or hell, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or Yellowstone/Old Faithful!

  3. Lue
    Lue August 13, 2010 at 5:35 am |

    That oath is really interesting, especially the part about renouncing fidelity to any other country. From a UK perspective, it seems fairly sinister – new subjects of the UK say something along the lines of ‘I promise to be loyal to the UK and uphold her democratic laws’. Nothing in it about forgetting where you came from. This is born out with the reference to Liam Neeson as a ‘great American’. He’s Irish! Sure, he might be an American citizen *now*, but the man is Irish: born in Ireland, grew up in Ireland, went to university in Ireland (suggesting he lived there until at least early adulthood). Do these markers get junked because he took an oath?

    Considering so many citizens of the US have such strong ties to other countries, nations, and cultures, an oath that explicitly refuses to recognise such ties comes as a surprise to me.

    Of course, the UK also have this strange test that requires new subjects to answer questions about UK history and culture that I, having been born here and lived here all my life, would struggle to answer.

  4. Joe
    Joe August 13, 2010 at 9:43 am |

    Doesn’t the oath run counter to people who hold dual citizenships?

  5. Kaz
    Kaz August 13, 2010 at 10:36 am |

    I was also surprised to see that oath of single loyalty thing in there, because I’d always thought it was possible to be naturalised as a citizen of the US without being forced to lose your old one… unlike in my home country – Germany – which not only forces people who are getting naturalised as German citizens to give up their old nationality but also makes German citizens who get naturalised as citizens as other countries lose their German citizenship. *sigh* I always thought the US was better about that than we were.

  6. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 13, 2010 at 10:36 am |

    I wouldn’t have been able to take that oath without omitting the part about bearing arms in military service as required. And I do find it curious the wording of the oath itself. It makes it sound as though being American is some exclusive right that ought to supersede any prior allegiance.

    I doubt it’s an expectation made upon native-born Americans like yours truly. So much fear drives that oath and that’s what really bothers me.

  7. Lue
    Lue August 13, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    @WCD. Thanks for the info, I didn’t know that. I quite like that idea – one country’s oath explicitly saying ‘you belong to us now, mwuahahaha!’, while the other is all like ‘nuh-uh, your oath doesn’t trump mine, OWNED’. A more serious version of unintentionally crossing one’s fingers behind one’s back, if you will.

    I’ve only visited the US a few times, but those people that I met were very keen to reference their heritage as well as their citizenship of the US state, e.g. ‘African-American’, or ‘Brasilian-American’, or ‘Anglo-American’. ‘American’ in this context doesn’t seem to define nationhood so much as it does a reeeeeaaally big zipcode. In NYC, quite often this was dropped, so I met teenagers who had clearly grown up in the States but who identified themselves as Puerto Rican, for example. They didn’t seem to need or want the ‘American’ – a very simple, but effective, act of resistance. So it’s strange to see that the oath doesn’t reflect such practices.

    We don’t have this so much in the UK, and I think the US custom is a much more preferable system, allowing individuals to publically retain a healthy sense of their own heritage and culture, as well as demonstrate loyalty to the country in which they happen to be a citizen. Calling yourself ‘British’, and only ‘British’, for example, eclipses any trace of family lineage, race, or dual nationality. It’s not at all common to hear ‘Anglo-Pakistani’, for example, or ‘Anglo-African’ – perhaps it might be better if such usages did become more of a norm.

  8. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes August 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm |

    The “bear arms” bit makes me wonder if Quakers (for example) could ever become naturalised citizens of the USA? Do they have a different oath for avowed pacifists, or what?

  9. Dan
    Dan August 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm |

    @SnowdropExplodes: Actually the “take up arms” clause is a debate that occurred at the founding of the country. Have a look at the wikipedia article for the Second Amendment. It went through quite a few revisions before being adopted. I believe the oath is a shortened version of the whole agreement (which you sign) which states something like ” I would not hesitate take up arms or perform a service of national importance on behalf of the united states”. Presumably, pacifists could do work of national importance in lieu of actual fighting.

    @Joe, Leu, WCD: WCD is right, “The British government does not recognize statements made to foreign governments by British citizens about changing their British citizenship” as an embassy worker once told me. The oath is largely figurative; you are supposed to renounce your other citizenships at your earliest convenience.

    This is the law in the United States which is why naturalized citizens who retain their other citizenships are often quiet about that fact (of course, it doesn’t work the other way: it’s perfectly legal to acquire other citizenships after you’re naturalized. Sometimes I feel like Asterix and the Britons when reading United States immigration rules). IANAL.

    In fact, IIRC, the only protection a dual citizen has is a State Department rule that instructs state department employees (and I believe USCIS) to only inquire about other citizenships in the case of criminal activity. In fact, in another dealing with an embassy official (US this time), she said “we don’t care about other citizenships, I had a man in here once that had 7 including US”. Of course, state department rules can be changed on a whim by the president. The law stays on the books because removing it would trigger a storm of xenophobia and no immigrant wants to challenge the system in case s/he gets their citizenship revoked and/or deported.

    tl; dr – As with all immigration things, you’re fine provided you don’t draw attention to yourself and you don’t give USCIS a reason to care. Speaking up about the widespread injustices, xenophobia, or blatant power tripping that you’ve witnessed, for example, is not recommended.

  10. nakedthoughts
    nakedthoughts August 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm |

    good thing (?) I was born here (the USA). I could not (honestly) take most of that oath. I don’t defend all laws. (prop 8 of california, 1070b in arizona, the legal status of marijuana). Or even all parts of the constitution (ERA please). I am anti military, so would not take up arms. And I would consider the ethical implications of any action “required of me by law.”

    Not to mention I don’t believe in “god.” But I’m still a citizen. Go geography.

  11. makomk
    makomk August 15, 2010 at 3:04 am |

    Interesting. I know that the recent Equality Act here in the UK has a fairly broad exception to allow the immigration authorities to discriminate based on disability – mainly aimed at things like excluding people with AIDS. (Possibly with exceptions for white cis het people from the right countries and backgrounds, not sure…

  12. Jim
    Jim August 16, 2010 at 11:01 am |

    “Considering so many citizens of the US have such strong ties to other countries, nations, and cultures, an oath that explicitly refuses to recognise such ties comes as a surprise to me.”

    Lue, it does sound harsh, but actually it is precisely because people have such strong ties that it has be recognized and dealt with. Yo mention Liam Neeson – think of all the IRA fund-raising in America from fifth and sixthe generation Irish-Americans who apparnetly had not renounced thier ties enough.

    While it seems a waste of time in the case of immigrants from Britian, twice it has been a big deal with German-Americans – 51 million people – not to mention the disgusting businees of Japanese internment. It’s about divided loyalties, bioth externally orineted and domestically. One of America’s real triumphs is getting so many Europeans to live togehter duirng a time when other Europeans were busy butchering each other. That comes from renouncing former ties.

    “‘American’ in this context doesn’t seem to define nationhood so much as it does a reeeeeaaally big zipcode. ”

    Yes. This. It is not the European Blut und Boden concept of nationhood. That applise to the Lakota or Cherokee Nations here. It is much more like the Chinese or Indian concept of nationhood – trans-ethnic.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.