America, Fuck Yeah?: Live-listing My Citizenship Oath Ceremony
I'm an American now. And pretty ambivalent about it.
- •The courtroom has pictures of five previous judges on the wall. All of them old white men, just like today's judge.I keep thinking that if we were in courtroom in a dystopian white supremacist state, it would look exactly the same.
- •A (white) court clerk: "Who's from Thailand?" Someone raises a hand. The clerk speaks a few words of (probably pretty bad) Thai. The Thai lady states back at her blankly. Clerk: "You speak Thai?" Thai lady nods. More silence.
- •The clerk: "Peru? Someone here is from Peru, right?" Awkward shifting. Someone eventually raises a hand. Clerk (in exactly the terrible accent you're imagining): "Buenos dias! Como estas?"
- •Judge, giving his opening remarks on the glorious history of immigration: "All of us, except Native Americans--who were here before the colonists arrived--chose America as their adopted home."Uh, right. Nobody was forcibly brought here as slaves or anything!
- •Judge, while giving a long annotated list of naturalized Americans who have been successful: "... Andrew Grove, who came from Hungary, founded Intel, the world's largest maker of computer chips. Not potato chips, but computer chips!"Maybe the worst joke I've ever heard, but people laughed and laughed with all the conviction of people whose citizenship is in the hands of this judge.
- •Countries that new citizens in this room come from include: Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Netherlands Antilles, Vietnam. About 40 more. Everyone dressed up and so nervous and happy.
- •The oath of allegiance ends with "So help me God."Yup. Let's not wait to get the religious hypocrisy started.
- •After they give me the magic piece of paper, two recurring thoughts: One is that it's so insane that the reason I get to have this, and all the rights and protections it affords, is that @SaraKippur and I fell in love. Could the system make any less sense?
- •The other is that for whatever reason I keep thinking about Chava Zlotchever, a Jewish immigrant in the 1920s who didn't have citizenship; she was deported back to Europe for being a lesbian and then eventually killed at Auschwitz.
- •See you at the polls in November 2016!