Thursday, June 10, 2010

We’re Nuanced Here in the States

Well, it took about an hour and a half, but one of the back benchers in the WH Press Corpse finally asked Gibbs if it mattered to the WH that an American was among one of the flotilla dead. The previous hour and a half was dedicated to questions from the beltway pretty boys dealing with perceptions of whether the President is engaged enough in the oil spill and tough enough on BP, whether or not Gibbs had watched Jon Stewart last night, and the usual important stuff. The response from Gibbs when finally asked was so evasive and noncommittal that I can't remember anything other than his mentioning that Obama had a good talk with Erdogan two days ago.

It must be really odd to be a foreigner watching the reaction of the American government. You look at Turkey, and they seem to be just furious that Israeli soldiers stormed onto a non-Military vessel on the high seas and shot up some of their citizens, but the United States seems to be wholly indifferent. What people don't realize is just how nuanced America has become about citizenship.

When we decide if someone is a real American, worthy of all aspects of citizenship and defense by the government, we look at the totality of the situation. We look at what kind of citizen you are, what you believed in, what you were doing at the time you were shot four times in the head at close range by a foreign army as they stormed a ship in international waters, and a variety of other factors. For example, as the Powerline points out, this guy wasn't a "real American" anyway:

The facts are not entirely clear, but it appears that Dogan was born in the United States to Turkish parents who returned to Turkey not long thereafter. (The ABC story says he was two years old.) Apparently Dogan had lived in Turkey with his family since that time. He apparently was, in other words, a "birthright citizen," solely by virtue of the fact that his parents were residing in the U.S. when he was born.

If that is the case—and, again, the facts are not yet entirely clear—it is silly to call him an "American of Turkish descent." He, like the other members of his family, was a Turk. The idea that his presence among the dead raises a special diplomatic problem is absurd; if it does, it shouldn't.

Not only was he not an American, but we should tinker with the Constitution so this never happens again. Now had his parents emigrated to a more American country when he was two, like, for example, Israel, then this story would be a lot different. But as it was, it is clear that he was not sufficiently American for our government to get upset about his death.

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