citizenship culture crit immigration war

The Morality of Citizenship

Perhaps I’ve been reading too many blogs by minutemen-types who say the U.S. is being invaded by immigrants. But in reading the rhetoric, I think I’m getting closer to understanding their motivation. Their conviction is based on national sovereignty and the rights of citizenship. But it’s more than just pride. It’s a moral belief in U.S. citizenship.

When it comes to a citizen’s social responsibility, the morality stretches to hypocritical extremes. Citizens don’t feel morally responsible for civilian deaths when their tax money blows up innocent women and children in a foreign country. But if their tax money goes to helping women and children get medical attention or an education in their own country, that is completely unacceptable.

Let’s take a closer look at the non-U.S. citizen civilian casualty issue. If the military finds a suspected terrorist is living in an apartment building in a foreign country, they’ll do some calculations to estimate collateral damage is within reasonable limits (I heard an interview with a military strategist who said the usual limit around 30 civilian deaths), and then they blow up the building. Now, if that same terrorist was in an apartment building in New York, there is no way they would blow up the building with 30 U.S. citizens in there. The country would go into a panic over the U.S. casualties, but doesn’t blink twice over foreign casualties. It’s based on this belief that foreign citizens don’t have the same human value as U.S. citizens.

The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to declare fundamental human rights. The United States was among the 48 countries that unanimously voted in favor of universal human rights. Included in the 30 articles, the UDHR says every person has the right to an education and medical care, among other things.

And sadly, U.S. nativists continue to rationalize creating new laws to deny these fundamental rights to non-citizens. They even want to take it one step further, denying citizenship to “anchor babies” born of non-citizen parents.