Sunday, September 11, 2016

On the Responsibilities of Citizenship

In the past, this land has been renowned as the melting pot of nations. 

I am sure a lot of our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents, however, are turning in their graves as my friend and colleague Paul Zoltan writes these cautionary words. The full support of the country our parents loved and clamored for, the USA — which they thought no one could surpass because of the liberty they won at such a hard price — would disappoint them. Our predecessors had to forsake their own countries. They left other safe harbors as well because they thought no one could ever offer them a better chance at safeguarding their liberties as this one true nation, yet that privilege now seems elusive. 

What was protected by the constitution they enthusiastically adopted as their own seems now to be a shard, used arbitrarily to break the most vulnerable, and indeed, many other populations as well. 

But I leave you with Paul's words, because he says it so much better... 

Paul's father's naturalization papers from 1965,
hanging in his immigration law offices

On theResponsibilities of Citizenship
By Paul Zoltan

In the waiting area of my small law practice hangs my father’s naturalization certificate. He took the oath of allegiance and became a United States citizen when I was all of eight days old.

My dad had arrived in this country as a refugee from Hungary six years earlier. The story of his exile begins, improbably, in Belgium. In 1958, two years after Hungary’s tragic rebellion, my father was chosen to represent his nation’s engineering achievements at the World Exposition in Brussels. Though Hungary’s Communist regime had encouraged him and other participants openly to share ideas with engineers from outside the Soviet Bloc, my father did so with trepidation: having grown up a member of Hungary’s landed aristocracy, he belonged to what the Communists called the “suspect class.” His three half-brothers, who’d never fought in the war, were sent off to Soviet work camps as “war criminals,” never to be seen again. When a telegram reached my father in Brussels demanding his immediate return to Budapest, he smelled a rat. Purportedly it came from the university where he taught, but his dean insisted she hadn’t sent it. So my father sought out the British Secret Service.