Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dual citizenship, or dueling loyalties?

In a new entry titled American Exodus, Vanishing American attempts to broach the subject from at least a couple of different angles. It's a good post, and I heartily recommend that you read it in its entirety.

VA writes:

This is all well and good for those of recent immigrant stock, as apparently many European countries will accept immigrants with ancestry (even grandparents or great-grandparents) from that country. Still, that doesn't help people like me whose ancestors have been in this land for quite a few generations.

The article gives the impression that some of these people who are seeking dual citizenship have rather shallow loyalties to this country, and who are actually 'hyphenated Americans' with one foot in the 'old country.' So in that sense, they may not be bellwethers of 'White flight'. They seem to be opportunists, in many cases, who think their economic chances are better in Europe, and they have somewhat weak ties to this country. (italics added)

Yes; yet despite their weak ties to this country which it seems to me would only tend to get weaker in proportion to their distance and time away, they presumably would retain the strength of their political ties -- their U.S. citizenship -- once having established permanent residency in Europe! Nuts!

My concern here is with this whole issue of "dual citizenship". As to VA's italicized comments above, I personally have always thought that this was a given with "Americans" who are dual citizens of America and of a distinct foreign country with distinctive foreign interests.

I've written about this before and I've consistently maintained that dual citizenship in the United States and the country of one's ancestral origin, Western European or otherwise, does by definition divide one's loyalties between the two. Therefore, I think that dual citizenship should be prohibited by law.

Personally I don't even like the idea of dual citizenship for native Americans, because I think, again, that there's a division of loyalties inherent to the concept of dual citizenship, which is self-destructive. This is the reason, for instance, that someone found to have a conflict of interests is disallowed from serving on a jury. It is commonly understood that such a person cannot be unbiased in his judgment, or, stated differently, he cannot act solely in the interest of justice because he has an interest which conflicts with impartial justice.

But at least in the case of native Americans they are persons whose conflicting loyalties are not between the United States and a foreign state, but between the United States and the given Indian Nation, both confined within the same broad borders. Nonetheless, I believe that native Americans should be forced to make the choice between United States citizenship and all the priveleges and immunities that go with it, and of the tribe to which they belong. There should be no conflicting loyalties, nor any opportunity for those loyalties to conflict.

While I'm not saying that American interests are altogether distinctive from, say, Great Britian's; that the two countries do not at times share the same interests, I am saying that they also have distinctive interests which often conflict with the interests of the other. And it's on this basis that I reject the idea of dual citizenship, not just for cultural incompatibles like Muslims, but for everybody. Where am I going wrong?


Lenny said...

I have a question for you-- Would you prefer
1- A hypothetical 5th generation American whose great-great grandparents were mestizo Mexicans, but who is loyal to the U.S., with no real dual loyalties ; OR
2- A U.S. resident who was born in, say, Denmark and who has a foot in both countries but favors Denmark when push comes to shove?

In the choice between kin and country, most people choose kin. Ideally, kin and country should be one and the same.

Terry Morris said...

Do both these individuals have dual citizenship in America and in their respective countries of origin? If so, then I prefer neither.


You'll have to forgive me, but I don't understand the point of your question. My post deals particularly with the idea of dual citizenship, whether it's a wise policy or not.

Whether person A has roots in Mexico, and person B has more recent roots in Denmark is beside the point. My contention is that both person A and person B should be required to make a choice for themselves where their primary loyalties lie.

Thanks for the comments.


Lenny said...

What I meant to ask with that question was: Would a person who is of radically different ancestral stock than yourself but an American citizen (only), be preferable to a dual citizen who is close kin to you? (I was assuming you are of Anglo ancestry- Denmark being very close to that).

I was wondering whether kinship sentiment trumps this question of national loyalty for you or not.

Terry Morris said...

Oh, ok, I get it now.

All things else being equal, I would choose, based on kinship and familiarity, the person with Danish ancestral roots over the person with ancestral roots in Mexico. But this does not negate the fact that in considering each of them for U.S. citizenship, I would require them both to renounce all loyalties to their native state.

I'm personally not going anywhere. If my country goes down, I go down with it. But were I even considering moving to Western Europe where I have ancestral roots, part of that consideration, for me, would be that in making the choice I would be morally obliged to cut all ties with the United States.

Thanks for the clarification.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Morris,

I decided to read more of your blogs and came accross this interesting one.

I know you are far more educated than I, but I am 4/4 Comanche born in the U.S.A. The Indians of this country are not Dual Citizens, "WE ARE AMERICA...WE WERE AMERICA BEFORE AMERICAS WAS AMERICA" This statement was made by an American Indian Veteran that was severely injured in the War America is in at the moment, when he was asked how he felt about being American.

Native Americans never give the idea of Dual Citizenship a second thought, You mr. morris should not worry about it. Where you are going wrong is even including the Native Americans in this question.

I worry about the encroachment of the Germans, the Japanese, Afgans, Iranians, India Indians, but moreso about the Muslims, whom yeagely gives this tidbit in an article: I had great concern even at this point when the story was written(l979) that the world would should not throw out the moslem religion because of the radicals in Iran, I noticed right away a similarity of moral, particularly sexual moves between the Moslem ideas and that of the Original American Puritans, this similarity among others." .

You may be right if they are using another country as personal gain and are more loyal to that country and people, "GET OUT OF AMERICA I WOULD SAY TO THEM", but no American Indian would ever be loyal to any other Country but American....except yeagley, for him I would have to say "STOP USING YOU INDIANESS FOR PERSONAL GAIN"

I love what the crippled VET said "WE WERE AMERICA BEFORE AMERICA WAS AMERICA" , so lulmping us together with the REAL foreigners is morally and ethicallly wrong.

Terry Morris said...


First, thank you for investigating the matter of my position further at this blog. This is not a new position for me. I've held this position on dual citizenship for a long long time.

I've never said that Indians are not a special case. Indeed, as I wrote over at Bad Eagle recently in reply to a commenter who leveled the same charge against me that you're leveling here, "I'm not lumping Indians together with other immigrant groups. Indians are not immigrants ... this is their home, they belong here, on this continent."

What I was saying in this post is that if I don't support dual citizenship for American Indians, then how could I ever support the idea of dual citizenship for foreigners who come here from different countries altogether? The answer is, I can't.

If you investigate the matter farther, you'll find that I'm also opposed to migration from other states in this union to this one. I've met and spoken to a lot of people who've recently migrated here from different parts of the country, and it doesn't take long to figure out that while they're fleeing the mess they helped create elsewhere, they're bound and determined to use their newly acquired citizenship in Oklahoma to create the same kind of mess here. So I'm opposed to "easy-citizenism", as I've come to call it, as well.

I highly doubt that I'm "far more educated" than you are, particularly on American Indian affairs.

Thanks again for the comments.


Anonymous said...

Its easy for me to see that you are speaking of the Mexicans. My feeling are mixed about this with the Mexican. Comanche history and other Indians in Arizona, our friends are closely intermarried and related to them. Their lands criss cross the U.S. borders, always have. Therefore its hard for me to decide on separating them from their loved ones. I know its easy for you to want to get rid of them and their problems altogether. I understand.

What about the Germans, who speak in their own language while waiting on you in the restaurants or department stores? It seems very rude on their part. If they live here and have the jobs we could be having they should speak English. Same goes with the Dang Iranians who run and own the Motels, I can't understand them, they can't understand me. Most owners stand in the back room while a Beautiful Blond takes care of the front desk now. When we discover that, sorry, we move on to another one, which is getting hard to find lately. Then there are some Japanese, (mainly men), who think they don't smell like garlic, who don't even want to wait on Indians. Not hard to stay away from that donut shop, or whatever eatery or cleaners they run.

I have gotten more tolorant as I age, but I never forget, especially when my money is as good as the next.

Dang I do sound unhappy...but I really am not, just worldly, aye, with it closing in around me. I want the people to stay in the towns and cities, stay out of the country, but even that is wishful thinking.

I Thank God for our little bit of alloted lands..... don't be jealous be happy for us.

Terry Morris said...


I'm in favor of placing a moratorium on all immigration to the United States, and beginning an out-migration of certain cultural incompatibles, as I've said many times before.

What makes you think I'm jealous of Indians? Like I've said over and over, I'm against any form of dual citizenship, whether that involves me and my people or you and your people or anyone else and their people. I'm not against Indian sovereignty. Indian sovereignty and dual citizenship for Indians are not mutually dependent on one-another as Yeagley would like to believe.