Thursday, September 11, 2008


September 11, 2008

From time to time I am asked why I am not an American citizen and the answer is that I cannot take ‘the oath’. Whenever there is an election I am reminded that I am disenfranchised. As an alien, I have the privilege of paying taxes, (if I was an appropriate age I could be drafted for the military,) but I do not have a vote. I do not begrudge my host country this reality. At the same time I have been gone from England too long to be afforded an absentee (actually proxy ballot) there, a law that I do begrudge as having no logic except that it is presumably administratively tricky in some way.

I also do not begrudge America asking that those who are afforded citizenship become true Americans. That is understood as requiring a renunciation of all other allegiance. I wish that was not such a blunt instrument. I know a number of English people who have taken citizenship who point out that telling the American government that you are renouncing all other allegiance does not mean that the English think you have renounced your citizenship there does not help me. I wish there was some ‘dual’ option, but there is not and the oath does not allow wiggle room. Here it is:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate,

state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and

that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

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