Why I’ll Not Take The Pledge

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.[1] 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.

[1] “Al-Qaida confirms death of poisons expert in Pakistan” Guardian, Aug 3rd 2008

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4 Replies to “Why I’ll Not Take The Pledge”

  1. As one who swore the US Oath of Allegiance 10 days ago I feel it incumbent upon me to respond, RJ.

    Your feelings on this are understandable, but they are not the only way of looking at the subject.

    I am as critical of some actions of the American government and military as you are, but the Oath of Allegiance does not require allegiance to what Woodrow Wilson called “those who temporarily represent” the government :
    “You have just taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Of allegiance to whom? Of allegiance to no one, unless it be God. Certainly not of allegiance to those who temporarily represent this great government. You have taken an oath of allegiance to a great ideal, to a great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race.” — Woodrow Wilson speaking to a group of newly naturalized citizens

    As I spoke the words of the Oath I thought of the land, the hopes and dreams of those who came here, their mistakes and their glories, and felt very comfortable pledging allegiance to the Constitution drawn up with the best of good intent by some wise people long ago, people with vision. That vision hasn’t always been ahered to, it has been adulterated and abused, but beneath everything it does remain. Becoming a citizen, I believe gives one the right to work, in ways however small (just a word here and there, even) to bring that vision back into focus.

    What’d be really really good would be an addition to the Oath pledging ultimate allegiance to planet Earth. If the vision returns, perhaps that will come too – one day. 🙂

  2. It’s all alleging and reputing and taking another’s life for same amounts, as you say, to cold-blooded murder and not even a whimper of protest. NIMBY at its finest.
    What have we all become?
    Has it ever been thus but just that modern media brings it up close and personal?
    What evil lurks in the heart of man?
    And I am reminded of “how a country does one thing, is how it does all things”.
    Citizens beware!

  3. Maybe a time will come when we no longer torture people, no longer imprison them without a trial, no longer puts bounties out for suspected foes, no longer starts unprovoked wars, no longer selectively prosecutes brown people for drug crimes and exault the white people who profit from it, no longer consider fraud as “just doing business”. When this doubtful future occurs, then and only then should you join the band.

  4. Twilight – I accept what you say. You and I think differently on the subject. You see the visions and hope. I just see the way those visions and hopes have been corrupted and adulterated over the years, going way back beyond George W Bush. I’m no longer sure if, in fact, there is anything remaining under the surface, other than misplaced nationalism. One thing I can promise: if I’m still alive on the day the oath is amended to include allegiance to Planet Earth, that’s the day I’ll be submitting my citizenship application. 😉

    WWW – thank goodness for Google! Your ability with acronyms keeps me on the hop. NIMBY is a human failing we should all be prepared to admit. George W expressed it so admirably in his infamous quote, “We fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here.” Citizens beware, indeed!

    Flimsy – then, and only then, will I. And proud to do it.

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