To be (Swiss) or not to be…

I was diverted by this article in the Guardian – Michele Bachman decides not be Swiss after all – and what it says about the corrosive effects of uber-patriotism. (Also about the editors, who missed the obvious grammatical error in the headline and spelled her last name wrong.) It seems that Michelle automatically acquired the right to Swiss citizenship on marriage to her husband, Marcus “Gay Cure” Bachmann. And apparently their children wanted the benefits of dual nationality.

But Michele, having been outed by Swiss TV, first called her impending Swiss citizenship a “non-story” and then decided to bail out for fear of being thought unpatriotic.

“I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100% committed to our United States constitution and the United States of America,” Bachmann said.

Much as I despise Bachmann’s political views, I feel a bit sorry for her. It’s not as if she’s renouncing American citizenship to take up Swiss – she would have both. The narrow-mindedness of those views preclude her from something I’ve always enjoyed. I have dual British (mother)/American (father) nationality, and it means I have two countries to call home.

Bachmann is clearly making a political calculation that the bigots who support her won’t stand for anything looking like divided loyalties. It’s a sad reflection on the state of American politics in a country of immigrants (if you go back far enough). A sea change from an ethos of inclusivity to one of exclusivity.

At least I hope their children take advantage of Swiss nationality. It would be a tragedy if Bachmann’s myopia spoiled their chance to become world citizens.

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