Sunday, July 25, 2010

That Loyalty Oath - Just That You Should Know


It turns out it is precisely democratic countries that are open to immigration that require candidates for naturalization to make pledges that deal with values and political principles these nations see as central to their worldview. In Norway the formulation is: "I pledge loyalty to my country Norway and to the Norwegian society, and I support democracy and human rights and will respect the laws of the country." In Britain: "I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values." In Australia: "I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect." In South Africa: "I will ... uphold and respect its Constitution and commit myself to the furtherance of the ideas and principles contained therein."

In the American oath of allegiance there are echoes of the justification of the republican form of government, which grew out of the rebellion against the British monarchy: "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty ... that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies ... that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law ... that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law." This is far-reaching language because it made it possible to strip the citizenship of immigrants who refused to serve in the army or were perceived as members of groups whose aims contradicted the constitution, such as anarchists, Nazis and Communists.

These examples suffice to show that it is precisely democratic states that require candidates for naturalization to accept the conceptual principles of the country whose citizens they want to become.

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