Monday, September 27, 2004

Elections & Foreigners

Back in the early 90s, whilst in graduate school, a fellow student in the physics department who was from Portugal (and was a rather bright fellow), would make comments to the effect that the United States was the source of all the world's problems, and the only way there would ever truly be lasting peace would be if all the other countries in the world got together "to smash the U.S."

Such a patently absurd, not to mention rude, point of view caused me great consternation for quite some time.

Until I realized, with contented satisfaction, that this person's opinions mattered not one teensie tiny little bit in the big scheme of things, because he was not an American, and couldn't vote in our elections.

But my opinion did matter.

The most powerful government in the world courts my vote, not his.

And thus he was as ignorable as the inconsequential brayings of a jackass.

I found it further ironic (beyond the obvious point of him coming here to study) that although he could have become an American, as our way of life is theoretically open to all, and thus elevated himself to having opinions of significance, I doubted I could have ever become Portugese if I wanted to; they even have official lists of approved Portugese names for babies that must be used on all birth certificates there, so not being native born I would surely not be welcome.

And of course he (and his wife who was also studying here) planned to go back to Portugal -- a kind of Workers Paradise, to hear him describe it -- to raise a family, as it was just so horrible and violent here.

He was apoplectic over my explanation of how deadly force was allowed in most states to defend one's home against intruders -- to him this was barbaric and he couldn't understand why there wasn't an epidemic of people just inviting their enemies over for tea and then freely murdering them by claiming they were intruders.

Anyway, it seems they're finally on to us, realizing their impotence: witness this article making a case that the rest of the world should be able to vote in U.S. elections because the outcome will affect them. They even have the gall to quote the Declaration of Independence:

That 1776 declaration is worth rereading. Its very first sentence demands "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind": isn't that exactly what the world would like from America today? The document goes on to excoriate the distant emperor George for his recklessness, insisting that authority is only legitimate when it enjoys "the consent of the governed". As the world's sole superpower, the US now has global authority. But where is the consent?
It's a novel passive/aggressive argument: claiming a right to political power precisely due to their being so supine and weak as to be unable to govern themselves.

Bite me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you say, this student from Portugal was a rather
bright fellow.

No doubt by now he will look on himself as being one
of the world's great intellectuals,spewing out the
same old diatribe that so many of the so called
intellectuals do.

6:46 AM, September 27, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should have signed off,
Thomas Johnson,

6:51 AM, September 27, 2004  

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