There’s always a lot of chatter on the internet about government policies: the manner in which it’s handling the credit crisis, rising gas prices, and even stuff as far back as the initial invasion of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.
Most of the criticism is justified. God knows, there’s been a fair bit of it on Sparrow Chat, but I’ve found myself of late seriously considering why, despite my permanent residency in the US, I cannot bring myself to apply for citizenship. After all, governments are governments, and wherever in the world, most are corrupt, inefficient, and care little for their nationals till voting time.
I never applied for citizenship of the UK, of course. It was handed to me as a birthright. I never had to swear allegiance, or sing the national anthem before an audience of my peers, or anything else equally absurd. So, I don’t see why I should have to do so here. Citizenship, to my way of thinking, should be automatic after, say, ten years of permanent residency.
I don’t believe many Americans would agree with that. Most see citizenship as an honor bestowed, even though the vast majority received it for the sheer geographical coincidence of being born here.
Swearing allegiance, to me at least, means pledging myself to defend American ideology against other human beings who just happen to live elsewhere and within a different culture. My personal opinions have little in common with what passes for US ideology, and I find something grotesquely awry about a country that brags of its ‘freedoms’, yet incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in order to achieve it.
The only occasion I would consider defending anything was if I, or my family, was in imminent personal danger, a situation that could occur anywhere in the world, so swearing allegiance solely to obtain citizenship would, for me, be akin to perjury.
That, then, is one of my main reasons for not becoming a US citizen.
I guess Abu Khabab is another.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Abu Khabab was reputed to be a key poisons and explosives expert for al Qaeda. He was, no doubt, a thoroughly despicable character. Note, use of the past tense, because Abu Khabab is dead. He was killed last Monday in the tribal regions of Pakistan. It doesn’t bother me that Abu Khabab is dead. It was the manner of his demise that causes concern.
Abu Khabab was killed by a US predator drone. These days that’s not unusual. The practice of assassination by remote control is common, utilized both by the Israeli government and that of the United States. What’s scary, is that despite all the government critique festering on the internet, I’ve read not a word in condemnation of injudicial assassinations by a lawfully-elected government.
While many reprove the Bush administration for its tactics against extremists mythically grouped under the banner, ‘al Qaeda’, and believe use of the term ‘war’ with its attendant distortion of legalities, to be inappropriate, they miss the implication of their government committing cold-blooded murder in their name. In fact, by the omission of censure, they accept it.
“Another bad man taken care of.” “One less terrorist to worry about.”
How often have we heard those kind of phrases bandied about, both in the media and on the street, or in the workplace?
Whatever happened to “innocent till proven guilty”? Where is the right of every man to a fair trial? How far is it from remotely ‘taking out’ a stranger in the hills of Pakistan, to doing away with the judiciary altogether and having a police officer summarily execute criminals caught at the scene of a crime, perhaps on a US street?
It may be more convenient to accept that Abu Khabab was just ‘another bad man’ who deserved to die, but without the correct judicial procedure, and knowing how governments lie, no-one can be sure.
Maybe I’m in the minority, but to pledge loyalty to a nation whose citizens allow their government to murder in cold blood, and who raise not a murmur of dissent, is not in my nature.
There are many good people in these United States. They need to wake up. They need to sit up. They need to start shouting.
Otherwise, one day, it may be too late.
 “Al-Qaida confirms death of poisons expert in Pakistan” Guardian, Aug 3rd 2008
Filed under: Another type of pride