Michele and Me

For a brief, shining moment this week, the deeply-batty Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and I had something in common: we’re both dual US/European citizens.

Or we were, because in less time than it takes to don a tricorn hat, the Honorable Member was savaged by the right-wing blogosphere and quickly told the Swiss they could take their citizenship back again.

But even though the Tea Party favorite got whiplash from her abrupt 180 (and may well have set some sort of record for “Shortest Time to Hold a National Citizenship”), I still like to think that she and I both learned valuable lessons from the experience …

Lesson #1) Those who live by the right-wing blogosphere die by the right-wing blogosphere.

No sooner had Politico posted on the Congresswoman becoming a “Swiss miss” (good one, guys …) than she started taking fire from her right flank, many of them folks who have admired her and even supported her fanciful presidential candidacy.

Mark Krikorian at the National Review Online huffs that dual citizenship is, “… a formal declaration of divided allegiance, civic bigamy, if you will.” Krikorian also quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s condemnation of the practice (which is interesting, because folks on Krikorian’s end of the political spectrum rarely quote TR’s much more germane observations about the “malefactors of great wealth”).

 But Krikorian was a gentlemen compared with some of the other blogging heads who opined on Ms. Bachmann’s newly-split nationality. Lori Stacy at Examiner.com called for her to resign, return her congressional salary and be stripped of her pension. The Daily Paul (“inspired by Ron Paul”) ran the headline, “Dual Citizenship is Treason.”

Why she didn’t see this coming is a bit of a puzzle. Did the Queen of American Exceptionalism not quite understand that claiming citizenship in another, vastly inferior country would be seen as betrayal by her patriotic cohort? The fact that she backtracked so quickly suggests she didn’t.

Lesson #2: Large numbers of American citizens are eager to shoot off their mouths on subjects about which they demonstrably know nothing.

Not exactly a news flash, I know … Still, reading comments on some of these conservative blogs was surreal, like watching Scooby-Doo reruns on acid. For instance, I was informed that US citizens are allowed to have dual citizenship only in Israel, that the Jewish members of Congress all have dual citizenship, that Barack Obama has dual US/Indonesian citizenship, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, that FEMA is setting up detention camps in which to intern all loyal patriots, AND that Denver International Airport was designed and built by the Illuminati as the headquarters for the global genocide that will trigger the New World Order (Seriously. Some people are apparently extremely anxious about this).

Lesson #3: Many people see citizenship in starkly militaristic terms.

I mean, what if we had a compelling national need to invade Switzerland? Y’know, to keep strategically-vital chocolate stockpiles out of the hands of terrorists, or something? Where would Michele Bachmann’s loyalties lie? How could she be trusted not to betray American interests to her lederhosen-wearing overlords?

Here’s the thing …This is the 21st century.

And it’s a global century, a century where people, goods and information easily flow across borders, a century in which a lot of archaic ways of viewing things that have historically pitted us against each other (nationality, race, language, gender, religion, sexuality) are crumbling.

As Paul Simon said, these are the days of miracle and wonder. I sit at my desk in my home in a little French village and have video chats with friends in Seattle. I work with people scattered across three continents. I upload radio reports that are broadcast across North America within a couple of hours of my recording them.

My dual citizenship (US/Irish) allows me to seamlessly work/study/visit/play across borders and interact with people who also are living in that international sphere, people with command of multiple languages and an understanding that if we’ve got any chance of keeping this planet habitable into the future, we’re going to have to come at our problems as inhabitants of Earth.

So, when Ireland declares war on the United States of America, I guess I’ll have a decision to make.

Until that time, I think the more people who can see themselves and others from an international perspective, the better off we’ll all be.

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8 Responses to Michele and Me

  1. Bartell says:

    Borders language and culture still matter: the fact that we are now “global” in our inter-related economic systems does not mean that we now have to accept dual citizenry as a given. The “globalist” mentality will lead us to perdition; in fact, it already has. And what of the leftist blogoshere ? Any deviation from the Left’s ‘gospel’ of global warming, ‘race oppression’–and alleged economic deprivation is met with a cry of “Heresy!”

    • liammoriarty says:

      Hi Bartell, Thanks for your comment … I agree that “Borders, language and culture still matter.” But they don’t have to be a one-pointed, us-vs-them way of defining ourselves. I think being able to look at things from multiple viewpoints is nearly always a good thing. And while we’re certainly in a load of trouble (favorite bumpersticker: “Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket?”), it seems to me that it’s hardly the ability broaden one’s perspective beyond “my country, right or wrong” that got us here. As far as the “leftist blogosphere,” you’re certainly right that each camp has its orthodoxies that it tries to enforce on its believers. I just think that if a public official takes a stand on based on principle, it shouldn’t matter that much to them what a bunch of folks with WordPress accounts and too much time on their hands have to say about it. That Rep. Bachmann didn’t foresee the vociferous response of her supporters — and that she allowed their reaction to reverse a decision that I have to assume she gave due consideration before taking — is not to her credit.

  2. Joel Rogers says:

    Great post – more like it…. Sunny in Seattle… J

  3. Ken says:

    Bachman and the rest of the 1% that are clamoring for Swiss citizenship are motivated by the new IRS rules pertaining to overseas bank accounts. Even poor Mitt, he might have to pay taxes on the money he made gutting American companies and throwing the workers on the compost heap. What an outrage!

  4. Elaine Yates says:

    Thanks, Liam!

  5. Nicole Lundin says:

    Great read Liam. Thanks!

  6. Ken says:

    Thought you might enjoy Ron’s parthian shot:
    And Finally: Mr. Wrap shed a small tear at the passing from the public arena — at least for the moment — of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Eyes of a Dingo, who announced that she wants to spend more time with her pack before embarking on her next hunt. Stay strong, little crazed one.

    Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at rjudd@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8280.

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