That’s It Uncle Sam
Right. That’s it. Entre nous c’est terminé. After 42 happy years I am getting a divorce from America. From the very emerging of my childhood consciousness I have been aware that in the eyes of billions of people around the world I have won first prize in the lottery of life. I possess it, the thing competed for by everyone from Rupert Murdoch to the most desperate Mexican wetback, and I have it by simple dint of my nativity, on the Puerto Rican Health Scheme, in New York General Hospital, NY, NY.
I am entitled to an American passport. I must confess that this knowledge used vaguely to tinge my sense of identity. My brothers and sisters are British, and so are my parents, and I would like you to know that I am a loyal subject of Her Majesty, speak in an English accent, and for years I have travelled exclusively on a British passport. But my first passport was green, and when we landed at Dover or Heathrow I felt secretly cool to be the one to present his document to be stamped.
Mine were the credentials furnished by the most powerful nation on earth, and signed by former secretary of state Dean Rusk; and when the going has got tough in England it has sometimes crossed my mind that I could yet activate the Schwarzenegger option and flee to the land of opportunity, perhaps beginning as a short-order chef in Miami before winding up as Colorado senator and, inevitably, president.
Always glowing at the back of my mind has been the light from that unused escape hatch. Let’s face it, folks, we manage to endure so many of our earthly captivities by fantasising that we have somewhere a half-open door to another job, another career, another life, or indeed, if we are religious, a life of the world to come. The mere thought of that door is a consolation, even if, as things turn out, we never actually go through it.
Well, as of this week I slam that door shut, and in some indignation. It is not just that I no longer want an American passport. In fact, what I want is the right not to have an American passport, and it is that right, astoundingly, that the Americans are reluctant to give me.
Last Sunday lunchtime we were boarding a flight to Mexico, via Houston, Texas, and we presented six valid British passports. As soon as the Continental Airlines security guy saw my passport, he shook his head. ‘Were you born in New York?’ he asked. ‘Have you ever carried an American passport?’
Yes, I said, but it had long since expired. ‘I am afraid we have a problem,’ he said. ‘The US Immigration say you have to travel on an American passport if you want to enter the United States.’ B-but I’m British, I said, and my children chorused their agreement. Had the guy stuck around a moment longer, I would have told him how jolly British I was — but luckily for him he’d gone off in search of reinforcements.
When the ranking officer arrived, the story was the same. ‘I’m sorry, sir,’ he said, ‘but you’ll have to go to the US Embassy tomorrow morning and get a new American passport.’ But I don’t want an American passport, I said, inspiration striking me. I tell you what: I renounce my American citizenship. I disclaim it. I discard it.
‘That’s not good enough, sir,’ he said. ‘I need some official document saying that you are no longer American,’ and that, of course, is the point of this piece.
I make this formal, public, and, I hope, legally valid renunciation, because as a result of this moronic rule I had to ask my wife (who bore this latest cock-up with amazing good humour) to take the children on her own to Houston, and I then had to spend a stonking sum on another ticket. Because the Americans insisted I was American, and that it was only as an American that I could travel to America, America was the one country that I had to avoid.
So I circumnavigated America. I flew via Madrid, managing to beat the rest of my family to Mexico by 45 minutes; and yet I still seethe. It’s not just the stupidity of the rule that gets me. It’s the arrogance. What other country insists that because you can be one of its nationals, then you must be one of its nationals? Imagine if we told all British-born Americans that they could not arrive in this country except by use of a British passport. I haven’t seen anything so insanely possessive since the negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy, when the Irish used to claim that the cod stocks of the Atlantic were still Irish in their fishy souls, even though they had long since emigrated to Portuguese waters.
As far as I can interpret the psychology of the rule, which has only been applied since 9/11, it is part of America’s new them-and-us mentality, the Manichaean division of the world into Americans and non-Americans, obliterating any category in between. Listen, buddy, the Americans seem to be saying. You got a right to be American? Then you do us the courtesy of travelling on the world’s number one passport when you come here. What you got to be ashamed of, boy?
Well, I love America. But I don’t like being pushed around and kicked off flights to what, after all, they claim is my home country. Condi, Mr Ambassador, whoever is in charge — I hereby renounce my birthright. Strike me off the list.
Consider me, as you put it, an ‘alien’. Even as I write these words I am conscious of the huge potential benefits my children will now never have. Of course, it is true that it is not all jam, carrying an American passport. You tend to be first overboard when your ship is hijacked by Arabs; but then these days the Brits walk the plank pretty soon, too; and think of the advantages, that priceless sense of civis Americanus sum; that the sanctity of your life is guaranteed by the hyperpower.
Compare America’s tigerish love of her children with the pitiless indifference we show to British passport-holders from Zimbabwe. The Americans would never allow me to be tried by an international court. The Americans would never let me be extradited to face trial in the UK, even if — particularly if — I was involved in IRA atrocities, while we supinely offer up our subjects without demanding any evidence whatsoever.
These blessings must now remain untested by me and my descendants, and I tender my resignation from the United States, with sadness, but in the knowledge that she is probably big enough to rub along without me. Goodbye and God bless, America.
This article featured in The Spectator.
63 thoughts on “American Passport”
Maybe that was a bit of a rash thing to do Boris, I mean the bureaucracy has reached new dizzy heights on this side of the pond. Have you tried claiming job seekers allowance or dealing with the Inland Revenue recently? Try opening a bar and navigating the new licensing laws, importing childrens toys from China or starting a sandwich shop business.
Uncle Sam might be bureaucratic, they might employ people to fine you for ‘jaywalking’ (or crossing the road to you and I) but we are just as eccentric in out own little way Boris.
I never would have pegged the man for a Puerto Rican socialist. I stand corrected.
Perhaps Boris would like to make a nomination to the Stupid Security Awards. I am sure he would have something to say.
I am equally sure, and the thought makes me hopeful for many a spittle-frothing sequel, that this Spectator piece will not be considered legal proof Boris has renounced his citizenship.
Can’t wait for Parts II, III, IV (which will have to be translated into “4” for the Americans) etc.
Better late than never.
You mean posting the article, or moving beyond Yankhood?
Steven, the Americans do other things, too. Like refusing to allow two Texans to re-enter the country, even though they were citizens travelling on American passports.
If you guessed they were not blond you’d have guessed right.
Apparently, according to today’s Telegraph, certain Americans are now regarding the UK as America’s biggest terrorist threat.
Lucky we don’t have much oil left really.
Even though I’m rude, aggressive and can’t stand you, I’ve reduced your despicability rating by fifty seven and a half because of this article.
Only a couple of hundred odd points to go and you might make human being status.
Quite an interesting article Thalia,
A quote from it:
‘Mr Gardiner said the issue had not yet acquired a head of steam in Congress, but that another plot, or a “successful” attack by British Muslims on an American target, would be likely to spur an immediate response’
‘Much of the outraged American response this month was sparked by the call from Muslim leaders for a change in British foreign policy.’
Further research at the Wall Street Journal (which is quoted in the article) reveals that Boris’s editor Matthew D’Ancona told the Americans:
‘The good news, according to a poll in this week’s Spectator magazine, is that the British people most certainly do “get it.” Of the 1,696 respondents, 73% agree that “we are in a world war against Islamic terrorists who threaten the West’s way of life.” Only 8% believe that “Islamic terrorism is a regional problem that holds no real threat to the West.” A truth that eludes so many senior politicians is blindingly obvious to those they represent.’
This article is unavailable in full unless you buy it for $4.95
However right-wing US think-tank the Heritage Foundation makes a more in depth analysis that is available here:
‘British conservatives should advance a strongly pro-Atlanticist agenda that emphasizes U.S.-British leadership on the world stage, Anglo-American cooperation in the war on terrorism, a firm determination to halt the development of a nuclear-armed Iran, support for global free trade, and concerted action to end the genocide in Sudan and human rights abuses in countries such as Burma and Zimbabwe.’
I have to say I’m with the Yanks on this one. The UN are useless, they won’t even condemn what’s happening in Sudan as ‘genocide’.
You mean posting the article, or moving beyond Yankhood?
This article is unavailable in full unless you buy it for $4.95
Presumably because only Americans would want to read it.
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the last terrorist action by the British on the Americans some time around 1814?
I’d like to draw everyone to a response piece by a colleague of mine that was written after I publicised this article further….
Well that’s got to be good news Ape….;-)
couldn’t link to your site…will try again later
Global free trade except for countries America doesn’t like presumably. Like Cuba.
As the Anglo-American war in Iraq is something of a humanitarian disaster, I don’t think it would be resposible to be rushing into any more of the same any time soon and America might do better to look after it’s own people, for example those in devastated New Orleans, before getting into any more overseas wars just at the moment. It’s also noticeable that America mostly only worries about bringing American style democracy to the poor oppressed people of countries with lots of oil hence my sarcasm earlier, wheras the poor oppressed people of countries without oil are ignored.
Cuba has just discovered offshore reserves on it’s territory only a few miles from Florida. By their own current laws America can’t drill or trade with Cuba for it. Interesting times ahead for Cuba.
The situation with terrorists is quite out of hand however, and does have to be tackled here somehow. Quite how though at this stage is baffling. It was well scary when the response to Ruth Kelly’s attempt to get help from Muslim leaders was to demand Sharia law in the UK but the current overseas policies of both America and the UK do seem to be more along the lines of trying to put out fires with petrol.
It’s not so much the worry about being inadvertently blown up by crazed terrorists – like the rest of us I grew up with the IRA bombing, killing and maiming left right and centre and was rocked by the odd bomb blast and did hasty head counts of my friends and relatives like many others in recent decades, and not forgetting the people maimed and killed for a minute – but it is the government’s response to it I find deeply alarming as their enthusiasm to overturn all our freedoms and individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in order to impose what is heading in the direction of an alarmingly Orwellian police state is damn scary.
Exactly how is it that we all got through the bombs and scares and very real terrorist threats of the Seventies and Eighties with little worse to show for it civic rights wise than nowhere to put our rubbish on the Underground?
But now a few dodgy religious maniacs (and history is littered with them and you can’t go around pandering to them or you end up with Dark Ages) and suddenly it’s “Ho! for a Police State” and “Let’s get with the ID cards, DNA records of the entire population (apparently starting with the children) imprisonment without trial, torture and maiming, Roll up! Roll Up! – It’s all in a good cause you know!”
This is horrifying:
Very nasty article in the Telegraph by Alasdair Palmer.
As suspected it turns out that the evidence for the recent security actions over the Bombs on a Plane plot was obtained in Pakistan almost certainly under torture and Mr Palmer suggests this is acceptable, nay desirable, bless him.
The problem with torture (you know, leaving aside the whole woolly liberal “It’s unthinkably evil” argument) is that no matter how innocent or pure as the driven snow the victim is, s/he will eventually say anything, accuse anyone, wife, child, best friend, anyone, to make it stop.
That’s the whole point of the Room 101 thing – George Orwell – not Paul Merton – enough torture, pain, disfigurement and horror and you will sell anyone, ANYONE. Just to make it stop.
Therefore, you get a lot of people imprisoned and tortured for having names that sound vaguely like the croaky wail of your last victim’s final utterance and a lot of wasted time for the security forces chasing red herrings while generating exactly the kind of ill feeling in the general populace that breeds people with a big enough grudge to want to bomb things.
You might actually catch the odd terrorist in the confusion, but at what cost?
Think about Forest Gate. Two hundred policemen arrest two men and their mother, shooting one of them and assaulting their neighbours, and after every best effort to justify themselves end up only with some convenient kiddie porn to show for it. (anyone else a fan of “Blakes Seven” in the Seventies?) So did the intel for this expedition come from Pakistan? Was it obtained under torture? It’s kind of important, let’s not gloss over it.
It’s all very worrying.
We never committed any terrorist acts against the USA, we owned it fair and square from what I remember. The perpetrators of ‘The War on Independence’ were the terrorists, and I believe were helped to victory by the cowardly French.
I would like to see a progession in Pakistan towards democracy and greater respect for human rights. I do not think this will be possible until Afghanistan becomes a more stable country and their democracy starts to function. General Musharref has been trying to reform rape laws in Pakistan, to remove the idiotic requirement for 4 men of good standing to testify that a woman was raped for it to be proven.
The rape law reforms are being met with the usual opposition from the representatives of rural Pakistan that such reforms are an affront to Islam. In some respects Pakistan is coming along well, they have prominent female politicians and diplomats but they are a long way from returning to democracy. They also have good diplomatic relations with the UK and are fighting terrorism and religious extremism within their own country. We must support them on this front.
I do not agree with using torture or with evidence obtained by torture being admissible in court. However is Pakistans intelligence services contact our security services with intelligence that can lead us to foiling a terrorist plot in the UK then we can’t just pretend it does not exist.
Actually Boris , the first prize in life is to be born English .
Even if we are occupied by the British state .
Winston Churchill who ‘ like you , was half American , also had a clear knowledge that he was English – and said so . He was careful always , as the leader of the United Kingdom to use the word ” British ” when he described the doings of HM government . He also knew that the UK is a multinational state and that an effort had to be made – continually – to keep its momentum going . It needed continual renewal . You might have noticed that within the last few years there have sprung up two – three new national parliaments within the UK – directly contrary to Article 111 of the Act of Union 1707
“That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be styled the Parliament of Great Britain. ”
This basic condition has now been breached and England is left severely disadvantaged by not having her own Parliament . As you are well aware the 529 MP’s in the British parliament who sit for English constituencies are monumentally useless at defending England’s interests within the Union . If anything they see England as a passive source of bribe money to pay to the celts to stay in the union . So treacherous of them , don’t you think !
To them the increasingly frail union is all that counts – a ” union ” sustained by everything that England must be forced to pay .
Remarkably , your party is at the forefront of this attitude – remarkable because the only substantial support for your party is in the vastly discriminated against England .
You might mull over these points and reflect that the present ” constitutional settlement ” instituted by the slimeball ( I refer to the PM ) is fundamentally unstable and quite likely to be speedily terminated if the SNP win a majority in the Scottish elections in May 2007 . ie , the UK itself could well be terminated . Thus England too would be free . It would be pity if Mr Salmond were to be the saviour of England . I would rather that England were able to hark back to some stirring of concern for England among our own political “representatives” to have led us to redemtion . No sign of it though and if it must be a Scot then so be it .
A way to head off this disintegration is for your party to adopt the policy of a federal UK with country parliaments ie there would be parliaments for England – and one for Ulster also .
Don’t take too long deliberating the matter – time is slipping away .
England needs a parliament within ( preferably)
the British Union , if need be .
So, you’ve fallen out of love with the U.S. of A. at last, Boris? I did so years ago. When one gets around all the hype and gusto associated with Americans (anyone remotely famous and visiting here, who just happens to be a Yank, is treated like God), the picture isn’t one so much of towering heroes and bastions of freedom, more one of a loud nation gripped by hysteria over terrorism. I’ve always found it amusing that so many here seem to treat the Yanks with so much reverence whilst completely ignoring Canada.
Canada, the nation which has remained loyal to the Crown and this country, inherited our calmness and wisdom, modesty and respect and upholds the standards of the English language. This towering nation of good people has been completely ignored next to the United States, which, in its history, has made a lot of money from the misery of others and thrown its weight around like a nightclub bouncer. Nay, Sir, ’tis not the U.S. of A. which you should revere, ’tis fair Canada. I’ll stand with the United States against terrorism, I’ll support its freedoms and right to exist, but there shall be no blind love of the U.S. Perhaps you would have been more fortunate, were you born in Toronto.
It’s a good job that they aren’t led by a belligerent moron with the social conscience of a dead snail otherwise you might be really cross with them.
I was particularly thinking of the hideous situation of girls and women in Pakistan when shuddering at the concept of Sharia law being made permissable here and General Musharref is really sticking his neck out in an amazingly brave way to try and do something to reduce the atrocities and is due huge respect on this issue.
The point I was making about information obtained under torture is that it is woefully unreliable. As well as, you know, being totally evil.
It is a bit rich, come to think about it, the Americans getting their knickers in a twist over terrorism in such a grandiose self-righteous manner.
Weren’t the IRA allegedly largely funded from America where a lot of them apparently ended up?
America, which for some strange reason, refuses to ratify their end of this anti-terrorist extradition treaty thingy that, so far, mostly seems to be about extracting large sums of money from British businessmen before they are actually found guilty of anything, presumably in case the UK starts raking up the recent past on the terrorim front?
Ancient Chinese proverb he say: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”.
Also I think the Native Americans were there first, then the Vikings (but not in a big way) and then the French English and Spanish trundled along and it all got very acrimonious.
But traditionally everybody who was anybody invaded England: Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Saxons, Jutes, and anyone else who knows us.
At least the Poles are friendly and great at fixing boilers.
“(you know, leaving aside the whole woolly liberal “It’s unthinkably evil” argument)”
“As well as, you know, being totally evil.”
If this is sarcasm, why?
It’s even worse if you’re NOT American, Boris.
My brother is married to an American. In love, five your old child, church ceremonies in both the UK and San Francisco, the lot.
Unfortunately, he’s an ex-hippie musician. A long, long time ago – so far back in the annals of time as to have no relevance to modern life – he committed a misdemeanour or two. You can probably guess, so there’s no need for me to compromise him with details.
Then he went to America. Several times. And every time he entered said country, and was presented with the green form that says ‘have you ever been convicted of a crime’ (or whatever the exact words are) he did what any of us travelling to America and hoping for an enlightening and relaxing holiday would do: he conveniently forgot said minor misdemeanours from long long ago in another age, and said ‘no’.
Then he fell in love. With a lovely Californian gal. And got married, as you do. With two ceremonies, because there were two families involved, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and it was the romantic thing to do.
Then they thought about their future. And decided it would be nice to bring up any future offspring with the option of both US and UK citizenship, as you would expect their right to be.
So off they trotted to the US embassy in London, and my brother applied for the right to live and work in the USA, thereby giving his soon to be born American-citizen offspring all the benefits of having a daddy who could work in the greatest nation on the earth, and thus bring them up in the God-fearing manner to which all all Americans-by-birth are entitled.
Then he told the truth. About the minor misdemeanours, so lost in the annals of time as to be all but completely irrelevant to the way we live our life today, in the brave new 21st century.
And was promptly told that because he had committed to cardinal sin of LYING to the US Immigration Department, on several (albeit inadvertent) occasions, he would never ever under any circumstances be entitled to live and work in the US, and could only travel there if he applied for a special waiver from the US government every time.
Let’s be clear about this. He’s not a terrorist. Or a criminal. Or any kind of malicious bad guy, by whatever standards you care to apply. He’s just an ordinary bloke who may or may not have made some minor mistakes in his past, who happens to have fallen in love with a lovely American girl.
She chose to live in the UK, as anyone loyal to their partner might have done. When she goes home, she takes their five-year old daughter, but my brother doesn’t go with them, because he can’t be bothered to mess with US immigration anymore. And who can blame him?
His crime, and the cuase of this nonsensical state of affairs? Not the original misdemeanours (which no-one cares about). And not the lying (because if he’d been ‘practical’ about it he would have carried right on lying, and no-one would have been any the wiser).
No. His mistake was TELLING THE TRUTH.
August 30, 2006 12:04 AM | permalink
“(you know, leaving aside the whole woolly liberal “It’s unthinkably evil” argument)”
“As well as, you know, being totally evil.”
If this is sarcasm, why?”
It’s making a point. Making people think.
Just over a week ago I was relieved of my mobile phone at the end of my street by a young man with a meat cleaver who decided his need of it was greater than mine. I fleetingly imagined what that big curved blade would do to my face or any other bit of me before deciding he was right and handing over the phone. I am proud that at least by lying blatantly I managed to retain my laptop and wallet.
There is no real chance of catching him and I’m fairly certain I’ve seen him on my street several times since but by the time I’d have dialled 999 he would be a distant memory, possibly taking the replacement mobile phone with him.
All the same, I’m still really concerned about this sort of thing: http://www.guardian.co.uk/humanrights/story/0,,1833535,00.html
Does anyone want to live in a world like this?
Quote from Thalia.
‘Weren’t the IRA allegedly largely funded from America where a lot of them apparently ended up?’
Aye, and (allegedly) a lot of that came from the back pockets of a well-known Catholic American political dynasty.
The exact same thing happened a couple of years ago to my son aged (at the time) about 5. It’s not a new rule, but they’re paying more attention to it of late.
I’m not sure if disclaiming US nationality will help you, though. “ex-citizen” sounds a lot like “enemy” to a certain mindset.
This is brilliant too:
‘Weren’t the IRA allegedly largely funded from America where a lot of them apparently ended up?’ (Thalia)
US funding of the IRA is dead in the water now that they know what terrorism is.
Donations to Friends of Sinn Fein from the US fell by 80% after the Oklahoma bombing and all but ceased after 9/11 when Bush announced the War on Terror.
You see before Oklahoma many Americans did not know what terrorism was, they had romantic notions of Irish freedom fighters on horseback fighting against the King of England. They know what it is now and the IRA has transformed into a ‘for profit’ criminal organisation (a very successful one).
President Bush invited the sisters of Robert McCartney, the man murdered by PIRA terrorists, over to the White House for St Patricks day in 2005, ignoring Gerry Adams and his Sinn Fein friends.
The neo-cons have no time whatsoever for PIRA and other Northern Irish terrorists. It’s the Catholic liberals and numerous rich businessmen in the Boston area that were the apologists and bankrollers. It was they who saw the ‘struggle’ (or acts terrorism and murder to you and I) as the part of an ongoing Irish War of Independence, much in the same vein as the American Revolutionary war (or War of Independence).
The bit that always got me was how they claimed the Northern Irish were ‘oppressed’ by the UK. How on Earth were we oppressing them? In fact after the Maastrict Treaty came into affect they were free to live in either mainland Britian or Ireland if they didn’t like it in Ulster.
You guys talk of Canada, did you guys know some people there still do bankroll Sinn Fein?
Steven, it’s true that the US doesn’t fund the IRA the way they used to. Primary funding comes, I understand it, from the youth of the United Kingdom, who purchase certain substances in great quantity from agents of aforesaid terrorist organization.
As we can easily tell by reading your post.
A minor example: Sinn Fein, for those who, like Steven, are apparently unfamiliar with it, is a political party.
And I heartily applaud Andy, who has made by far the wisest, best-informed post I have ever seen on this blog. Indeed, we are as of one mind: Canadians should be worshipped like gods.
It is true most British organised crime gangs make most of their money from ‘substances’. The PIRA were must more diverse however, making a fortune in counterfeiting and racketeering amongst other things. Much PIRA fundraising took place in the Kilburn and Cricklewood area of London back at the height of the troubles too. They would walk around spit and sawdust bars, overtly asking for donations to ‘help the struggle’.
The PIRA however, also aligned themselves with Columbian Marxists and other terrorist organisations around the world. Whilst back home they terrorised small time dealers and performed various acts of torture on those who peddled drugs to Ulster schoolchildren, they ran firearms and vast quantities of Columbian pure around the globe to fund their ‘struggle’.
So whilst at home and in the United States Sinn Fein would whip up support for an united Ireland amongst Catholics, abroad the PIRA would make dodgy alliegences with other terror groups and drug cartels under the banner of Marxism.
Middle class Americans of Irish descent whose ancestors had long abandoned their homeland would sympathise with the ‘Irish Republican Army’. They would paint romantic pictures in their narow minds, synthesising these ruthless murderers with the rebels who ousted the Brits from Eire in the Irish War of Independence against a war weakened UK.
Many British patriots from the mainland and Ulster died defending the Loyalists, many British civilians and Ulster policemen died at the hands of the PIRA. There were many PIRA ‘martyrs’ to the cause of a united Ireland.
During this struggle however, Eire developed into a rich, neutral European democracy and a playground for the many rich Brits and Americans investors who make their money short-selling shares and dislike paying their taxes.
Boris said, the sanctity of your life is guaranteed by the hyperpower. Compare America’s tigerish love of her children with the pitiless indifference we show to British passport-holders from Zimbabwe.
This reminded me of the surprising discovery, after the Boxing Day tsunami, in accounts posted by Americans on newsgroup after bulletin board after on-line diary, of how unhelpful US embassies and consulates were to US citizens who pitched up at the reception desks having lost everything – clothes, money, passports – in the disaster and who were just trying to return home.
Also, recall the more recent episode. When all the foreign nationals were evacuated from Lebanon, I understand that only the US insisted that their citizens sign promissary notes (to cover just the cost of the airfare to Cyprus) before agreeing to fly them out of the country.
I believe that the British Government does try to recover its costs, when the rescued citizen is safely back in Blighty, but does not strong-arm the citizen standing in its entrance hall in flip flops and pyjamas, traumatised and/or terrified and potless.
You don’t know jack schitt about Northern Ireland, and after saying “The bit that always got me was how they claimed the Northern Irish were ‘oppressed’ by the UK. How on Earth were we oppressing them?” you then go on to write a dissertation on the subject which is such a mixture of fact and fiction I’m not even going to bother unravelling it. Read up on the subject. You weren’t oppressing anybody.
An artificial border was drawn around the 6 counties of Northern Ireland which deliberately gave a majority to the Unionists/Protestants, who then systematically discriminated against Nationalists/Catholics for 50 years.
And find out about the Irish who served in the First World War.
“By 1914, the political efforts to restore some form of self-government to the Ireland appeared to be achieving tangible results with the passing of the Home Rule Bill at Westminster. The prospects of a Dublin parliament had prompted the Unionist opposition to organise the Ulster Volunteer Force and to import 24,600 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition from Germany on 24-25 April, 1914. In response, the Nationalists formed the Irish Volunteers who also imported arms from Germany at Howth albeit only 900 rifles and 25,000 rounds …”
In fairness to the Yanks (and when have I ever been fair to Yanks?) they did afterwards abandon the scheme to collect on those promisary notes, but only after the press handed them their asses.
After Katrina, the American people are far less willing to put blind faith in the American government during times of actual emergency to Americans.
‘An artificial border was drawn around the 6 counties of Northern Ireland which deliberately gave a majority to the Unionists/Protestants’ (Impeach Bush)
I would say we were protecting our citizens, after all ‘unionists’ by definition want to remain part of the UK. The border was hardly artifical, it is internationally recognised to this day.
Off topic, but American:
LONDON (Reuters) – Channel 4 is courting controversy with what it calls a “shockingly real” drama about the fictional assassination of President George W. Bush.
“Death of a President,” shot in the form of a documentary examining the assassination, will use a blend of archival footage and computer-generated special effects to portray Bush in October 2007 arriving in Chicago during an anti-war rally.
In the film, Bush is killed by a sniper, and the investigation quickly focuses on a Syrian-born man. It will air in October on Channel 4’s More4 digital channel, as well as at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
I really must protest about this.
October 2007 is far too late for an assassination – because Bush will have attacked Iran by then, tripling oil prices, crashing the global economy, and ramping up a regional war to new heights of insanity. And also if Bush gets killed by a sniper, it’s absolutely essential that Cheney goes with him. And Rumsfeld. And Feith. And Bolton. And… Well, the list of neocon madmen and madwomen is endless.
Bush and Rumsfeld have been complaining recently that “the terrorists have better PR.” As ever, they’re wrong: people have just been getting wise to Bush’s lying, cheating, and blundering. The ‘terrorists’ don’t need a PR operation: Bush can provide all the negative PR himself.
Here’s another nice American piece. Steven L doesn’t like it; isn’t that recommendation enough?
‘because Bush will have attacked Iran by then, tripling oil prices, crashing the global economy’ (Idlex)
If it shuts up the house price bores that think sitting on their arses is an acceptable way to make money then so be it! Triple oil prices sound fantastic to me.
Iran’s had it coming ever since they held US embassy staff hostage after the revolution anyway. Most of the Yanks I talk to think Hillary Clinton will be the next president anyway. I very much doubt she will sympathise with the Ayatollahs’ views on the role and rights of women.
Iran’s had it coming ever since…
That sounds to me more like desire for vengeance than a rational foreign policy, Steven, although it probably fairly accurately reflects the thought processes of the Bush administration.
The result will be disaster, as it always must be once reason has been set aside, and replaced by blind passion.
Amen. The lies of this Administration will go down in history. “Truthiness” anyone?
The transcript, for those who can’t be bothered to gimme the clickthrough:
The security guard was full of shit, and there is no reason to believe that he knew what he was talking about. Your best recourse would have been to talk to his boss and insist that you were an adult, capable of dealing with any problems with the immigration service when you passed through Houston. And if that hadn’t worked, and you paid for the ticket with a credit card, call your credit card company and do a charge back (you were refused a service you paid for, you should get a refund).
For a short lesson on how to deal with American security guards check out the following articles:
Pretty much stay calm and in control, and ask to talk to their supervisor and/or a real police/immigration officer.
Also, in America, the only people who hate security guards more than skateboarding teenagers are real police officers. Security guards are usually just bullies and wannabe cops (sometimes called “leather sniffers”) with no more legal authority than a janitor. Nine times out of 9, as long as you’re not actually breaking any law, a cop will side with you over a security guard.
That’s not the only cock-up your wife’s borne, eh Boris?
‘Pretty much stay calm and in control, and ask to talk to their supervisor and/or a real police/immigration officer’ (Mark)
Boris’s pet hate seems to be bureaucracy Mark, it winds him up something rotten. I’m with him on this one, bureaucracy drives me up the wall too, though I agree that there must have been some other way other way around this problem than flying to Mexico via Madrid and trying to snap his green card in half!
Next time the form-filling pen-pushers make you see red Boris, take deep breaths and try not to do whatever rash idea jumps into your head!
Think about all the people like me who can’t just whack a 4,000 mile flight on their credit card, think what you would do if you were skint, take a few more deep breaths then do it.
Think of all the chilli-con-carne’s you could have bought for the cost of that flight!
‘And if that hadn’t worked, and you paid for the ticket with a credit card, call your credit card company and do a charge back (you were refused a service you paid for, you should get a refund).’ (Mark)
Mark, I’m going to have to correct your poor attempt at giving consumer advice.
If Boris booked an airline ticket using his credit card then Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 means that the credit card company has equal liability for any damages Boris suffers arising from ‘breach of contract or misrepresentation’.
If what you say is correct and that Boris should have been allowed to travel on his British passport, then the provider of his flight from to Mexico via Houston was not at fault. The fault was that of the US immigration service and there is no reason that whoever sold Boris his ticket should be liable (or indeed his credit card company).
If the US immigration official was correct and that Boris must travel on his US passport to gain entry to the United States then the questions that arise are as follows:
1) Has whoever sold Boris his ticket committed ‘misrepresentation by omission’ under the Misrepresentation Act 1967 by failing to inform Boris that if he was born in the USA he must travel on his US passport?
2) Has the provider of Boris’s ticket breached any implied term of the contract? Boris could argue that they have failed to provide a service with ‘reasonable skill or care’ as is implied under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. If he purchased his ticket to Mexico direct from the airline he may have an argument here. If he purchased the ticket from an agent that agent could argue that the ticket is not a service, but a facility and that the Act does not apply.
Only a County Court could decide in the end whether or not Boris’s credit card company is liable for anything and a District Judge would often look at how reasonable each party has been.
If Boris returned to the desk of his Continental Airlines to discuss the problem and complain that he was not informed that if he had a US passport he must travel on it, this would be seen as a reasonable course of action.
If Boris simply denounced his US citizenship and stormed off to by another ticket without trying to resolve the problem any other way then a District Judge may regard this as an unreasonable course of action should Boris try to recover the cost of the other ticket.
Hang on, that’s wrong, when you say ‘ranking officer’ you mean some guy from Continental Airlines not US immigration?
So if you are allowed to travel on a UK passport to the USA then yes, it is breach of contract. If you are not under ‘what is written’ then the above would apply in my view.
Rereading my previous comment, it doesn’t seem to be very clear, sorry about that.
My main point was that Boris was prevented from boarding his flight, not by a US Immigration official, but by a Continental Airlines gate agent. An airline employee does not have the legal authority to refuse someone entry into another country, only to say “no, you can’t get on my company’s plane”. If he’s ever traveled to, or through, the US using his British passport, then at some point a real immigration officer has decided that it’s not a problem.
As far as dealing with bureaucracy and staying calm and in control, my point there was that the gate agent was assuming authority he did not have. His was not the final word, and he could be overruled by either his supervisor, or an immigration official. Just as a security guard at a shopping center has no more authority to search a suspected shoplifter than a manager, a toilet cleaner or another shopper would have. In that sort of situation a suspected shoplifter can simply refuse to deal with them and wait until a real police officer arrives, and as long as they’re not breaking any law, the cop will side with them. All security guards can really do is tell you to leave or hold you while summoning a police officer. A better comparison to Boris’ situation would be a ferry captain, who couldn’t say “no, you’re not allowed into France”, only “no, I won’t take you to France”.
(As a quick disclaimer, I’m much more familiar with US than UK banking law; I haven’t lived in the UK since I was young, and have only had to deal with US banks.) The credit card company has an agreement with Boris and a separate agreement with Continental (if he bought the ticket from them, it could get more complicated if he bought it through an intermediary or used a debit card). Continental could try and refuse to refund Boris’ money, but they may not be able to under their agreement with the credit card company. Of course it will depend on the various contracts involved, but it could simply be a matter of saying to the credit card company “I paid for this service with your card, they refused to provide it, could I please have my money back”, and they could take the money from Continental and return it. Again from my experience with US banks, it’s easy for a consumer to change banks or credit cards, so they will do what they can to keep there customers happy. On the flip side, a company is screwed if Visa et al. won’t do business with them. That means they pretty much have to do what they’re told by the credit card companies. Even if a company isn’t legally obligated to provide a refund they may just have to suck it up, rather than risk being no longer able to process credit card transactions.
The airline situation has become somewhat more complicated since the recent allegations against Islamic fundamentalists wishing to blow up aeroplanes using mystical ‘liquid substances’.
It seems to me only a matter of time before we are all required to board an airplane completely naked having submitted to a fairly rigorous medical and MRI examination.
As a fairly frequent air traveller I submit to the indignities of airport security and the commensurate rudeness and ineptitude with bored resignation. I’ve found through experience that vituperative indictments have no material effect on these procedings and serve only to increase my blood pressure and upset other passengers.
Regardless of all this, it is utterly apparent that George Bush and his semi-witted neo-warriors have lost the ‘War on Terror’ because of their ridiculous and pointless, knee jerk reaction to any alleged terrorist threat.
It’s reached the point where these terrorists no longer NEED to actually do something or blow something up; they only have to say they are going to in order to make our economies crumble and have us all running for cover.
Terrorism 1, George Bush NATO eleven 0. Film at eleven.
Also, if Boris booked the flights whilst in the UK as a package (i.e. in conjunction with transport, accommodation or other tourist services) then he may have even more protection thanks to EU legislation, transposed into UK law as the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
Boris may have an argument that the brochure he booked his package should have contained ‘General information about passport and visa requirements which apply for British citizens’ and that this should be interpreted as meaning the brochure (or website) should have informed him that if he was born in the USA he would need a valid US passport to take that particular package.
If the brochure did not contain that information and a court held this argument Boris would be able to obtain a refund from the retailer.
The Americans don’t allow Americans to carry foreign passports, and have not for some time. I know a man who was held at the Canadian/US border ten years ago because he was using his Canadian passport. Their rules for dual citizenship are also extremely draconian, and are becoming moreso. There are, I believe, only two countries on Earth they will allow Americans to have dual citizenship status with: The United Kingdom and Canada.
I assume that Canada has slipped under the radar, and that the UK is getting a “Yo Blair” bonus, because you’d have to go a long way back to find a Western example of the rapid rise of xenophobia that has been the case in the US recently. All the way back to Germany in the Forties, perhaps.
I’ve been trying to read up on this (especially important to me, as a British citizen living in the US, I may have to deal with it at some point). It used to be the case that dual citizenship US was illegal, but not since 1967:
From the US State Department’s web site: “U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another”:
And as far as being a US citizen entering the US with a valid US passport*, while it is required, there is no longer a penalty for not doing so:
Going back to Boris’ case, as a strictly legal matter, he may be a US citizen under US law, and may, therefore, be required to enter the US with a valid US passport. However, in practice, he has a valid British passport and is entitled to pass through Houston airport using that. He didn’t claim US citizenship, and didn’t need it to pass through, so the US Immigration service wouldn’t have cared where he was born. The airline employee who stopped Boris did so on his own authority, not the authority of the US Immigration service.
* entering from outside most of North America, as you only need proof of citizenship (birth certificate and drivers license/photo ID) to enter from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada, thought this is in the process of changing.
[Ed: post now approved…]
I tried posting this earlier, but I think it had too many links and got eaten by the spam filter. I’ll cut it up and hope the original doesn’t appear later.
I’ve been trying to read up on this (especially important to me, as a British citizen living in the US, I may have to deal with it at some point). It used to be the case that dual US citizenship was illegal, but not since 1967. There is also no law against having multiple passports (see points 2 and 12 on http://www.richw.org/dualcit/faq.html ).
From the US State Department’s web site: “U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another”:
(second part of the post, first attempt at posting eaten by the spam filter).
And as far as being a US citizen entering the US without a valid US passport*, while it is required, there is no longer a penalty for not doing so:
Going back to Boris’ case, as a strictly legal matter, he may** be a US citizen under US law, and may, therefore, be required to enter the US with a valid US passport. However, in practice, he has a valid British passport and is entitled to pass through Houston airport on his way to Mexico using that. He didn’t claim US citizenship, and didn’t need it to pass through, so the US Immigration service wouldn’t have cared where he was born. From my reading, they appear to be much more likely to deny that someone is a citizen, rather than insist that they are. The airline employee who stopped Boris did so on his own authority, not the authority of the US Immigration service.
* entering from outside most of North America, as you only need proof of citizenship (birth certificate and drivers license/photo ID) to enter from Bermuda, Panama, Mexico, Canada and most Caribbean nations, thought this is in the process of changing.
** Boris may no longer be a US citizen, and not entitled to a US passport, as he is employed by a foreign government at a policy level, which is “potentially expatriating” if done with the intention of relinquishing US citizenship. See point 4 on http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_778.html
I see from your links that the fellow actually says:
which isn’t quite as cut and dried as it is implied. As well, the fellow is quite educated, with advanced degrees in music and math, but none in law, politics, or government.
I have argued with American border guards. And I had the option of presenting the documents they requested or turning back, just exactly the same as Boris did.
The question at bottom here is, what does it actually take for a British citizen to pass through an air terminal in the United States? Obviously, that depends on what the staff demand. And thanks to new Homeland Security regulations, they are entitled to demand almost anything, regardless of existing legal protections.
US immigration laws do not require me to carry a passport when I enter the US, but every single time I’ve done that since 2001 I have had to present one or go home.
This is from the same government site that you listed, although a different page.
And here’s a roundup of the procedures Boris must go through to actually officially renounce his citizenship.
It looks like Boris is not going to have his citizenship automatically revoked, as his holding a US passport alone counts as essentially declaring an interest in retaining that citizenship. He’s going to have to do the paperwork.
From the same US government site:
And here’s the link for the de-Americanization procedure. I hope it’s not too painful.
Do I think he’ll actually bother to do this? Not when he can get another article out of it if this sort of confrontation happens again. Did he expense the ticket to Madrid? I would.
I walked past the US embassy in London the other day, there was a queue of a good few hundred people stretching the length of Grosvenor Square. As I walked past I could hear that most of the accents in teh queue were indeed American and I thought to myself ‘Surely they haven’t all lost their passports?’
Perhaps not, perhaps Boris’s article had a such a profound effect on Amercian ex-pats that they were queuing in drones to renounce their citizenship.
Well whatever they were doing the queue was moving awfully slow, therefore if you do decide to become a bona fide Brit Boris I’d make sure you take the morning off work and turn up 8am on the dot to start queuing.
Steven, do you OWN a calendar? I think they were rightfully nervous.
Hmm. It’s possible that Boris is in serious trouble with the IRS. The U.S. taxes all citizens regardless of country of residence. Non residents get to deduct taxes paid in the country of residence, but whether or not any tax is actually owed, the tax return has to be filed.
Better be careful, Boris, or the U.S. could do an Al Capone to you!
You don’t have to pay the tax if you don’t import the money to the US. This is why multinationals still have money; they keep it in banks in the Caribbean.
By accident I came upon Boris’ article “That’s it, Uncle Sam” and I have read all of the comments posted on the net – interesting!
“Welcome to Earth, Third Rock From the Sun”. My twin and I were born in the US within a few minutes of each other. My twin was dead upon arrival, but he got a birth certific but I didn’t. So I don’t exist, Yet I served in the USAF, went to college and worked in the USA for the past 51 years and paid taxes.
What’s the point?
Like BJ, you choose how you deal with the situation and you move on. And, you try to abide by the “Law of the Land”.
Also, I found the article amd comments on Shabina Begum dress vs the school’s dress code very interesting –
opinions, opinions etc. Vanity of vanities – is it all vanity? Or is it just a figuration of my imagination?
I believe in “moderation”, whatever that’s worth?
Thanks for the “freedom” that a few of us have.
Respect to all!
North Las Vegas, NV
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