April 15, 2003

Civis Americanus Sum

For years I've been fond of the idea that American citizenship should be extended to all nationals of our allied countries, but I've never gotten around to writing it out. (The fact that I'm especially fond of the idea after a few drinks has perhaps something to do with this.) Imagine, then, my disappointment at seeing it appear, bylined by Régis Debray no less, complete with my extended Roman analogy, in the New Left Review. Of course, appearing in that venue, it can't help but contain certain flaws I like to think I would have avoided*. The fundamental difference is that, if this had any chance of happening, Debray would think it perfectly awful, but I'd welcome it as a step towards building a truly (pardon the word) cosmopolitan democratic polity. This does not make it any more likely I'm going to write my version.

* E.g.: (1) In what sense could Europeans possibly be "descendants" of the Pilgrims? (Perhaps this is a translation error.) (2) Debray makes one of the selling points of the idea, on American side, that of making the US population more white. I'd be the last to deny that there are still plenty of racist yahoos in this country, or that the GOP is their party, but this is simply not something that would be acceptable in American politics; it feels like a projection on the part of a European. Bush, for all he's an awful president and apparently a bit of a moral idiot, has a black national security adviser, a Jamaican secretary of state, a Hispanic immigrant sister-in-law, etc. (3) Nature is a British journal, not an American one.

The Continuing Crisis

Posted at April 15, 2003 13:46 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth