Real Americans

We take a break from a detailed exegesis of a 40-year-old paper for a brief political message.

Freakonomics did a poll to come up with a slogan for this country, and the winner was America: Our Worst Critics Prefer To Stay. I can get behind that. I’ve avoided criticizing my hosts for twenty years, and that ends now.

Yesterday I stood in a room with 42 people from 25 countries on five continents; they all put in the considerable time and effort it takes to become American citizens. Unlike the vast majority of Americans, they chose to be here. And anyone who tells you that they are in any way whatsoever not “real Americans” is selling something that I don’t buy.

Next time: back to type inference and formal semantics!

20 thoughts on “Real Americans

  1. Um, congratulations?

    I took the above to imply that the room in question was where you completed the naturalization process, and are now a US citizen?

    But does ending the avoidance of criticizing your hosts mean that criticism is no longer off the table, or that you no longer consider the US as your “hosts”? Or maybe both?

    If you’re indeed now a US citizen, welcome! You picked what to this US citizen (natural born, so guilty of taking my citizenship for granted) seems like an odd time to join us. So while the news is clearly good for us, I’m not as sure it’s good for you. 🙂 But I’m hopeful it means that you’re looking forward to engaging in the political process, and will be applying your ample talents and seemingly boundless energy (seriously…I don’t know where you get the motivation and energy to do all the stuff you do, and that’s just based on the somewhat limited window into your life your blog here offers us) to help us steer this country back in the right direction.

    And if your decision was based on our recent election, in which your reaction was “finally, the USA has a President I can really get behind!”, well…no one’s perfect. You’re still welcome, and I for one look forward to your continued contributions in the technical arena of software, even if nowhere else. 🙂

    Sorry…your post was a bit enigmatic. I parsed it as best I could. I hope I got it right.

    • You parsed it right.

      I started this process before the federal government was overrun by incompetent charlatans, and I am not at all happy about it. But I can’t do anything about it as a guest.

      • Well, as I heard someone say many years ago, “When I was a kid, they always told me that anybody could grow up to be President of the United States. Lately, I’m starting to believe it.”

      • I don’t know about that “charlatans” thing. Charlatan implies that Trump won’t keep his promises and up to now he is on track. I think Trump does not know that it is accepted that politicians do not keep their promises so he will keep his. He already repealed Obamacare. If I had to bet I’d bet he would at least start building that wall.

        • @Stilgar:

          “He already repealed Obamacare”

          Seems to me that you greatly overstate the facts. The ACA isn’t anywhere close to being repealed, never mind does Trump have the authority to do so himself. Indeed, ironically enough Trump is the one “Republican” who has made any strong public statement regarding the need to provide a good alternative before Congress votes to repeal it. For whatever that’s worth.

          As the joke has been going around recently, Trump is the one politician in recent memory who has gotten flak for _keeping_ his promises, or at least attempting to do so. I agree his promise-keeping is disheartening; I’d hoped that everything he’d said was just political posturing (and much was…e.g. he’s admitted that his promises to prosecute Hillary Clinton were just for show). But it seems he’s serious about at least some of what he said.

          But first, he has to get past Congress, and the Constitution. So far, he hasn’t been doing that well on that front. For better or worse, our legal system allows harmful acts to be done, with the injunctions, penalties, and reparations coming later. For now, I’m finding myself thankful that he’s starting up so quickly, so that we can move on promptly to the phase where the judiciary explains to Trump that he’s not a dictator.


  2. Nobody considers naturalized citizens to be anything other than Real Americans. And just to be clear, even the most enthusiastic Trump supporter welcomes legal Resident Aliens with open arms.

    I have no idea what you’re even going on about.

      • “even the most enthusiastic Trump supporter welcomes legal Resident Aliens with open arms”.

        Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week blocking the issuance of visas of people from 7 countries (

        “Another order will block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.”

        This means people who went home to have their visas renewed, like PhD students or non-resident aliens, won’t be able to re-enter the country and return to school or work.

        Admittedly, your comment was only about legal *resident* aliens, but did you really mean just *resident* aliens? Because it seems legal, *non-resident* aliens (students, post-docs, invited researchers, H1B holders, etc) are getting the short end of the stick here.

    • You seem to be misinformed:

      At a Trump campaign rally in Rochester, New Hampshire a man in a “Trump” shirt took the microphone and said, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.”

      “We know our current President is one,” he added. “You know he’s not even an American.”

      “We need this question,” Trump replied, smiling.

      Then things turned even darker, as the man discussed his beliefs that Muslims were in training camps plotting to kill.

      “That’s my question. When can we get rid of ‘em?” the man said.

      Trump was unfazed at the casual suggestion of cultural genocide. “We are going to be looking at a lot of different things. A lot of people saying that,” Trump said.

  3. Congratulations! As an American who, as of last summer, now resides in Germany, I can nonetheless understand why a lot of people choose to become Americans. My foreign-born wife did, over a decade ago. There’s a lot more to America than one sees in the daily news. One could argue that even what I’ve recently done, to start over in a foreign country, is a quintessentially American thing to do.

    I won’t get into politics; who needs more of that? Politics in America has gotten uglier every year, but America is a much bigger country than its politics. I’m glad you’ve seen that bigger picture, Eric, and I hope you enjoy your new country.

  4. Real Americans are people who value what America stands for and are willing to put real effort into making America better. I expect a higher percentage of naturalized citizens fit that ticket than native born citizens.

    Congrats, welcome (and hang on tight).

  5. Welcome, Eric!

    A side bonus of citizenship is that you now know more about American history and government than most natural-born citizens (if you didn’t already!) 🙂

    • Oddly enough “in what war did the Canadians BURN DOWN THE FREAKIN’ WHITE HOUSE?” was not a question on the citizenship exam. I’m pretty sure that’s a question on the Canadian exam.

      Interestingly enough, the “brief guide to American history” booklet that they give you when you apply for citizenship makes the entirely dubious claim that the US side “won” the War of 1812. That is certainly not what I was taught in school. Neither side had any incentive to continue fighting after Napoleon was captured, and so a peace was re-established pretty quickly. I’d hardly characterize that as a “win” for the US.

      • The North American War of 1812 and the Napoleon War of 1812 aren’t really related. In the North American case both sides tend to say they won since no one lost anything. Although as you mentioned the British burned down the white house so I think we (Canadians) really won.

        Speaking of which are you going through the trouble of denouncing your Canadian citizenship? I’ve heard it’s technically a part of gaining US citizenship but that most countries don’t accept that unless you formally request it.

        • To naturalize you have to swear an extremely archaic oath that says you “abjure loyalties to foreign princes”, so if Prince Harry calls me up for tea, I’m going to decline.

          In practice, neither Canada nor the US cares in the slightest if you are a dual US/Canadian citizen.

          • I was surprised to discover recently that some countries apparently do care. I spoke with a German colleague last week who was of German parentage but used to have American citizenship. He said when he moved back and took German citizenship, he was required to prove that he’d renounced his U.S. citizenship. Wikipedia says this is true for anyone taking German citizenship except EU and Swiss citizens.

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