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The N-400 and me

By Anna Zetchus Raetz
web posted October 29, 2001

When I was young, though born north of the 49th parallel, I loved America. I loved Jesus, too. And then I was given an education.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Canada. After all it was so... uh, clean.  Pristine, actually. But it didn't have the zip, the panache of the land down below. Let's face it, even in Nature the bald eagles soar high above the maple leaves.

And we didn't have that patriotic passion, that much-heralded "Liberty", we had no Texas to threaten not to mess with. But we did have ABC and we did have Schoolhouse Rock every afternoon, and we sang along with that bill on Capitol Hill, even though that law someday wouldn't be our law anyway and that Constitution wasn't our Constitution. Spectators. That's how I saw us.

And you could come from anywhere in the world and still be an American. But, since being Canadian was not as stringently defined, most immigrants came in bringing their own countries along with them. Canada's biggest claim to fame may ultimately be the exaltation of the hyphenated citizen.

But then I got the real lowdown when I began my higher learning. (It's amazing how much it costs to hear someone say "Down with capitalism!") Entering the Arts was asking for trouble I suppose, and yes, Daddy, you were right, but those syllabi don't come with disclaimers -- Marx was cool, guns are bad and God is dead. Disagree and you'll get a B. Assimilate and you, too, can scorn beauty, hate your father and protect abortion rights for the next generation. The irony was lost on them.

For two years they had me. But the third was a charm. I eventually left Canada, toured Western civilization, and finally settled in Southern California, the ultimate revenge, I thought, against the commies of the Great White North. Until I realized that they were having the last laugh, surrounded as I was by their Left Coast brethren.

I had always wanted Canada to try to become more like the States. And instead I have watched America become more like Canada, which boggles the mind. Were legislators here somehow inspired by the pathetic exchange rate, the unemployment weight, the language wars? It it ain't broke why fix it, unless you're blind to the forest, and want the world to hug your personal tree. It seemed as though the socialized sneer for individual Liberty had somehow become more infectious than the Providential smile of freedom.

But what was the root of this disdain, this arrogance? In one of those strings of things one shouldn't do that are listed by a Prophet or an Apostle in the Scriptures, jealousy is almost always included, and I had never thought about it before. Adultery? Yep, that's a bad one. Lying? An easy guess for addition to the no-no list. Stealing? Understood. But jealousy, and envy, not being obvious sins, at least to me, and not feeling convicted when reading those words, well, I usually overlooked their reference.

But I have seen it many times in my life, even if I've only just begun to examine it. There are many possible reactions, I note, when one is faced with that which is, comparatively, superior, whichever way that superiority is manifested and acknowledged. Sometimes the reaction is admiration, and it can lead to emulation. Other times admiration engenders a cozying up to, a basking in the light of, a hope for osmotic transference and greatness by association. Most times a recognition of one's relative inadequacy is forgotten as quickly as it was recognized. And life in the comfort zone goes on.

Then there are times when the effect is competition, is study, not for one's enlightenment or advancement -- this isn't football, but for a search for the chinks and weaknesses, holes in the cheese, the actual unseen inferiority, in comparison to a false self-promotion. This tactic may employ lies if necessary, and it usually is, and jealousy, when full-blown, seeks not only to deride and distort, but to destroy, to snuff out the light illuminating the basis for the rivalry. It's easy to look good when the competition is annihilated, eliminated, erased. Ultimately, at its extreme, jealousy is evil.

A few months ago I downloaded the N-400 Application for Naturalization from the INS website, courtesy of the DOJ. Political events and shifts had provoked a desire to officially recognize my relationship to this Republic. But I didn't send it in. Perhaps I needed a guarantee that the change would last longer than a term. After all, if you're going to be a citizen of a socialist nation you might as well keep the passport of the one that garners the least animosity.

But as war and rumors of war escalate again today I printed up that application anew. If it is -- yet again -- the end of the world as we know it, I don't want to return to spectator status. Denouement, at least for me, in the face of evil revealed, is the realization that I will fight or die for that which I esteem over all else, including myself. And if some see that as buddying up to the Great Satan, so be it. I disagree. Besides, I defend the right to choose Satan, if one so wishes. I mean, hey! after all, even God lets us do that.

Anna Zetchus Raetz is a wife, mother, filmmaker (Tailing the Millennium), writer, and national spokeswoman for Liberty Belles. Her Internet radio program, Unspun, can be heard on The Other Radio Network. This article originally appeared in The Mercurial Times.

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