About Citizenship.

newtgingrichTa-Nehisi’s (predictably) insightful post about the Letter From Birmingham Jail and the conservative relationship with black Americans got me thinking about something else from the letter. This excerpt, in particular:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Now, compare that to this recent gem from Newt Gingrich:

Let me be clear. I am not a citizen of the world! I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous. There is no world sovereignty. There is no world system of law. There is in fact no circumstance under which I would like to be a citizen of North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, or Russia. I am a citizen -I am a citizen of the United States of America, and the rest of this speech is about the United States of America.

Gingrich, his boastful tribalism and the round of applause that greeted that pronouncement gives us some insight into why some people consider “empathy” a character flaw rather than a sign of character.

That anyone could take pride in being an isolationist, in a time when our world is getting smaller and more interconnected than ever, says less than something about him and the people that give him a megaphone.

It is the mark of a sociopath, and it has no place in our global community. Indeed, the very idea of being an anti-citizen is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous. Even Reagan would agree.

But if Gingrich doesn’t want to be a citizen of the world, fine. He can’t stop the rotation of the Earth, or the passing of time. He will accept citizenship, or he will be left behind – if it hasn’t happened already.

To borrow a line from Italian (egads! a foreigner!) poet Antonio Porchia, “Man goes nowhere. Everything comes to man, like tomorrow.”

(x-posted from False Hustle)

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3 thoughts on “About Citizenship.

  1. Lisa J June 11, 2009 at 11:58 am Reply

    The man is an idiot. I remember in the 90’s when he came out with his contract on America and made some dumb comments about women not being able to be in combat b/c they might get some sort of infection when they have their periods and are fighting in a fox hole and some foolishness about how pre-historic people riding on giraffes to fight. Ever since then I knew he was a fool and have ignored him. It was nice when he was relatively quiet for a few years. Oh and the whole dumping his ex-wife while she was in the hospital with cancer. Nice guy.

  2. ladyfresh June 11, 2009 at 3:18 pm Reply

    I am not a citizen of the world!

    So what planet is he from…

    I like how easily he dismisses history and the fact that the United States of America was built by citizens of other countries and continues to depend on citizens from other countries. (Mainly though i doubt other countries would want his citizenship no worries on that front Newt!)

    aside: did you mean sociopath or xenophobe?

    • blackink June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm Reply

      “So what planet is he from…” Nice.

      And you know, now that you mention it, I think either term could apply. My intention was to reply by apologizing for engaging in hyperbole. But then I took a look at the online definition: “a person … whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

      Well, someone who actually says they’re not a citizen of the world, and then has the nerve to be boastful about it … then I think sociopath is appropriate in that context.

      But xenophone fits, too.

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