I filled out a U.S. citizen application form last night, when Obama won re-election. After nineteen years I decided to bite the bullet; this seemed like a fitting moment. I’d been waiting for some evidence of common sense, even though I knew I had to do it sooner or later, regardless. I mean, let’s face it, after nineteen years and with both kids teenagers here and T not being a billionaire just yet, it’s pretty obvious I won’t ever be living in the Netherlands again.
It’ll take a while before I’m an American (oh, that looks weird!), because I’m notoriously averse to dealing with paperwork, and filling out the form online turned out to be just the beginning. After filling it out online I had to print it to send it by snail mail. But when I printed it–all 11 pages–another 11 pages of additional instructions followed . . .
So I won’t be The Blogger Formerly Known as Resident Alien any time soon.
One of the (many) reasons I hadn’t applied for citizenship before was that I would have to betray several principles to do so. Right away on page 3, I’m asked what my race is. I usually fill out “human”, but that wasn’t an option. So I checked “White”, telling myself I just have to grin and bear it. And then the form asks separately if I’m Hispanic or Latino. Clearly all men are not created equal until they have American citizenship. And that’s how they make you want it.
“Are you willing to take the full Oath of Allegiance to the United States?” I grudgingly checked “Yes”. Sure I will. And then when I’m a citizen, I have the right not to pledge allegiance. Yay, so many rights!
I also checked “Yes” for if I’am willing to be in the army. Hey, I’m almost 52 and obese. What can they possibly do to me? Apart from having me be a stripper in a future Abu Graib? “No, please, not the fat lady undressing! I’ll tell you exactly where Bin Laden’s son is at this very moment, just get her away from me!”
There are some questions that I feel good about, though. For instance, if I was ever a Nazi, a habitual drunkard, married to more than one person at a time, if I have ever gambled, prostituted myself or failed to pay child support. I wouldn’t want to become a citizen of a country that has any of those kinds of people.
Take checking to see if someone was ever a Nazi. I, personally, can check “No” on that one, but I can just picture a sadistic, octogenarian war criminal coming up against that question and going, “Hmm, let’s see, ‘Have you ever worked for any German . . . Nazi . . . bla bla bla . . . paramilitary . . .’ Oh darn, it includes extermination camps! Guess I’m screwed.”
The form’s educational as well. I never realized that gambling or being married to more than one person at the same time is considered equal to killing millions of Jews in concentration camps. Do you think Utah knows about this? Do you think the federal government knows about Utah? I, myself, have gambled. Now I’m really glad I only played for matchsticks in all the poker games with those Belgian paratroopers back in 1979.
And who says the federal government isn’t efficient? The form asks if you ever committed a crime for which you weren’t arrested. See, that way they combine citizenship applications with any unfinished business they might have with you. “Yes, hi. I’d like an American citizenship please, but I did commit a crime that I got away with, so I need to do some jail time first. Please don’t tell me I have to wait in a separate line for that. No? Phew, you had me worried there!”
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.