Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Liet Kynes, Matthew 6:24, etc.

After a recent vacation to the United States, I decided to start seeking Dutch nationality again.

(Willem ten Broek)

This isn't to say that I had any revelations about America while I was there. It just really doesn't feel more like home than Holland does anymore.

I tried to become Dutch once before, and actually was naturalized, but I was later stripped of my Dutch passport after refusing to renounce my U.S. citizenship.

While I was back, I was talking about such matters with a lady who was camping near us in the Sierras. She asked "but isn't the U.S. the greatest country on Earth? Why would you want to live anywhere else?"

Questions like that don't bother me. I think quietly to myself
-I can't rank a country any more than I can rank a friend
-Wasn't the central lesson of the 20th century to distrust nationalism?

And then I smile and say "there are things about the Netherlands that I love, just like there are things about the U.S. that I love."

And I leave it at that. It's not like me to be so diplomatic. Must be old age.

But then, there are also things about both countries that depress me ...

Back in March, the City of Amsterdam summoned me up for citizenship (inburgering) classes. This bothered me a bit, since I was already forced to take citizenship classes here once before. Yes, I passed the first time around.

Anti-immigrant sentiment remains strong in the Netherlands, despite Geert Wilders having fallen off the foreign media map for the time being.

So I decided to try to give the bureaucrat in front of me a hard time.

It was much harder to speak Dutch, hold the camera and be cool and collected at the same time than I expected!

After a formal appeal, I was allowed to skip a second round of inburgering and language classes.

Hopefully I'll get that Dutch passport and then I won't have to jump through these hoops, ever again.

There is one final hurdle, though, if they agree.

In order to be granted citizenship, I must attend a 'citizenship ceremony,' which is a kind of party attended by a local politician (some party) where I will be required to swear an oath (in Dutch):

"Ik zweer dat ik de grondwettelijk orde van het Koninkrijgk der Nederlanden, haar vrijheden en rechten respecteer en zweer de plichten die het staatsburgerschap met zich meebrengt getrouw te vervullen."

"I swear that I respect the constitutional order of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, her liberties and rights, and swear to faithfully fulfill the obligations that citizenship brings with it."

This oath is new, they didn't have it back in 2006 when I was naturalized the first time around.

Also, only immigrants have to swear it, not natural-born Dutch.

Anyhow, it's not a problem for me.

If I'm naturalized, I'll be a loyal subject to both countries, reminding Holland that immigrants are a desirable asset, and encouraging Americans to look beyond their own borders.


Norma said...

My sister who's been living in Los Angeles for the last 15 years feels the same way about the States. She likes visiting Holland and seeing her relatives and friends here but it doesn't feel like home anymore. I guess if you stay in a country long enough you grow roots there. Especially if that country has been good to you.

Derek said...

"but isn't the U.S. the greatest country on Earth? Why would you want to live anywhere else?"

Questions like that don't bother me.

Ironic, because they bother me -- and I'm not even seeking any citizenship apart from my original U.S. nationality. It is exactly that kind of self-satisfied, jingoistic ignorance that embarrasses me about present-day American ethos. Of course not nearly all Americans share this characteristic... but a shocking number do.

Wasn't the central lesson of the 20th century to distrust nationalism?

Sing it, brutha. You know that, I know that, and it seems that the rest of the western world generally knows that. Unfortunately, if you'd asked the lady at the campsite or others like her, they'd probably say the central lesson of the 20th century was something like "America kicks ass! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Americans are addicted to convenience. People here don't care to put in the effort to think critically about important national issues, so they accept the inane with-us-or-against-us sound bites from the media loudmouths because they're easy to remember.

Someone smarter than I said in recent years that the ideological divide in America is best stated as being between those who love America like children, and those who love America like adults. For quite a while now the U.S. has seemed to me to be like a household dominated by the kids.

Flurtissimo said...

Koninkrijgk ? Back to the language course, my non-Dutch friend ;-)

Unknown said...

Everybody prefers their own club. It makes good sense that we have a connection to our own cults after years of acculturation. I would be more concerned with someone who DIDN'T cathect to their own . . .

Laura K. said...

I'm proud of you for going after this! I personally wouldn't as I don't desire to have a dutch nationality. I'm glad you are going after what YOU want though and you were so dead on about how America views things like this.

I was watching the video and the guy tells you to turn the camera off which you didn't, yet the sound ends. What did I miss?