American Elephants


The Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America by The Elephant's Child

“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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On July 4, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona, about 250 new Americans take the oath of citizenship (reprinted from 2015)

In July, 2015, President Barack Obama stripped out the requirement for individuals becoming naturalized citizens to defend the United States through military service. On September 16. 2015,  President Obama said in a video aimed at convincing migrants to pursue American citizenship, that they didn’t need to assimilate.

“It’s not about changing who you are, it’s about adding a new chapter to your journey… and to our journey as a nation of immigrants,” Obama narrates in his two-minute video urging almost 9 million resident migrants to sign up for citizenship so they can vote in 2016.

There’s another new turn of phrase designed to hide or soften what he is doing. “Nine million resident migrants” — think about that for a moment. We wouldn’t want you to get all serious about an oath, or make you uncomfortable. There’s one graduate of Harvard Law School who apparently never really learned anything about the Constitution at all.

Human beings are tribal. It’s an instinct that comes down to us from the first humans, and it’s never completely gone away. Most of the nations of Europe are tribal. That’s why the Czech Republic separated from Slovakia. I don’t think you can become a German unless you have German ancestry, but I’m not sure about that. The countries of Europe each have their own languages and customs. The Middle East is divided between Sunni and Shia, with a large number of other tribes thrown in. And it seems to be human nature for the tribes to fight each other, over things serious or not so much.

Here we join big organizations, tea parties, bridge clubs, Rotary, Job’s Daughters, join a golf club, work for the Salvation Army or Food for the Poor, or just the Thursday night poker club. We form neighborhood clubs, research our ancestry, or join a gym. We are tribal by nature. We are drawn to people who share our interests or heritage, enthusiasm for quilting, or political leanings.

Americans came from all over, but what has bound them together was the formal oath of citizenship renouncing all other allegiance. You raise your hand and your solemnly swear, and you become an American —just as much as the immigrant whose ancestors came on the Mayflower or with the Winthrop fleet.

What Mr. Obama doesn’t get is that Americans are a tribe, we have a proud identity. Many Europeans say that you can identify an American in Europe by the way they walk—heads up, more confident. Does any other country celebrate their founding day with the hoopla and fireworks that we do?

The full-throated “USA, USA, USA” may be annoying, but it’s heartfelt. Howard Zinn may corrupt the young with his soviet-propagandized attempt at revising our history. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright may bellow “God Damn America “to the future president and his family, but there’s a reason why Stalin’s daughter, Khrushchev’s son, and one of Castro’s daughters all became American citizens. Russian oligarchs moor their yachts in New York harbor just in time to get their newborn child American citizenship, and wealthy Chinese just happen to be visiting the country when the baby is due.  Mexican women wade the Rio Grande to bear their children in the United States. Why do you suppose they do that?

A small bunch of English religious refugees seeking liberty undertook a dangerous Atlantic crossing to an unknown land. Joined by other discontented Europeans, before long they were pushing back against English taxes, English regulations and English regiments. After sending the British back home, and writing a constitution, Americans pushed on across the Appalachians, facing angry Indians, bears and starvation. First in bateaus, then on horseback and in covered wagons, they crossed the Rockies and conquered a continent, fought a bloody civil war to free the slaves.  World Wars, John Wayne, the Super Bowl, Star Wars, the Marshall Plan, GI Joe, Baseball, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Grand Canyon, — so many things go into the making of an American, including complaining about the government. But here, it’s your right to complain. In Stalin’s Russia — off to the Gulag. In today’s Syria, we don”t even want to think about that.

Don’t be messing with the Oath Of Allegiance, Mr. President. We know that you are out to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” but if we had realized what you really meant by that, you’d be back in your house in Chicago and someone else entirely would be our president. You go too far.


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Obama can say “It’s not about changing who you are”, but that’s only because he has chosen to ignore the fact that every step in the process is about changing who you are. These people didn’t simply choose to move; they chose to move here. That one simple fact puts the lie to his idea that we are a “nation of immigrants”. Yes, everybody on this continent has ancestry somewhere else. So what? Being an immigrant is, by its very definition, a transition, a temporary situation.

Nowadays, no one is forced to come here, and no one is forced to remain. People choose to come here and choose to stay BECAUSE of the dream that is America (a dream that, quite frankly, I don’t believe Obama has ever shared, no matter what he claims). The idea that coming here is simply a “new chapter in your journey” insults because it pretends that this is simply another place, like anywhere else in the world. Air, trees, water, towns, roads; just like anywhere else in the world, right? Nothing special, right? Wrong.

People want to come here, to the United States, because of a promise that we represent, that we can work together, AS ONE, to make our lives better. And that, contrary to Obama’s lip service, places requirements on all of us. We need to be accepting, yes, but they need to become more like us (which is, after all, the choice they made when they decided to come here, rather than somewhere else). The ultimate idea, the goal, is to become ONE people, ONE nation. Different backgrounds, yes. Different histories, yes. But one nation.

I am proud of my German and my Irish heritage. But I am an American. My brother’s fiancée’s parents moved here from India, but she was born in Cleveland, and is an American. Different histories, all Americans.

Comment by Lon Mead

[…] From American Elephants […]

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