My Wanderings during HRC’s Speech

Okay, down to the business of a real post. So I’ve just watched TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention, mainly Hillary Clinton’s speech. I’ll leave the analysis to the pundits. I want to focus on the thoughts that strayed into my mind as I watched, in no particular order:

1. I hope they’re going to recycle all those signs.
2. Bill Clinton sure seemed proud of his daughter and wife. Aww!
3. Maybe it was just the angle, but Michelle Obama’s eyebrows seemed arched to the point of angry-looking.
4. What if she runs for President against Hillary in 2012? Imagine all the cat fight jokes they’d make on Saturday Night Live!
5. I always find it interesting when people at patriotic events bring up slavery.

That last one, it made me think of my Naturalization Ceremony. For those of you who got lost, ended up at this blog and are confused (“What, you weren’t natural before?”), I’ll explain. Time for a short civics lesson. *Ahem*

A bunch of people wanted to make tea for a really, really large crowd at a rowdy Guitar Hero tournament in Boston in 1773—-

Wait, that’s not it.

When an immigrant comes to the United States, after 5 years of living here, they can apply to become US citizens themselves (for a price, of course). After their application is processed, they are fingerprinted to make sure they’re not criminals. Once that’s cleared, they go in for an interview and test of American History, Government, and basic ability in the English Language. The next step upon passing that, is to swear allegiance to the United States at the Oath Ceremony, in the presence of a Court.

The reason HRC’s mentioning of Harriet Tubman reminded me of this, was because of something the Judge presiding over my Naturalization Ceremony said. Granted, I don’t remember exactly what conclusion she came to, but I’ll try. Let me build this image in your mind:

I’m sitting in Detroit’s Cobo Hall this past mid-July with nearly 999 other immigrants and our friends and families, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Each of us has received two patriotic books: The Citizen’s Almanac and a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We also got an American flag keychain (with “Made In China” on the back). I wondered how this ceremony would go in the midst of all this patriotic fervor.

So the Honorable Judge Hood (yes, that really was her name! Where’s DJ Khaled? Hu~ooood!) gets up there and says she was asking her interns what she should say to the New Americans. One of them suggested taking it back to “good old American values, Ben Franklin and such”. And this is where the Judge surprised me. She said, “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk to them about a time when women couldn’t vote and black people only counted as three fifths of a person.” I was like, whoa, did she really just say that in the middle of all this ‘America the Beautiful’ sentimentality?! She went on to talk about this discrepancy, and how to come to a resolution. I couldn’t help but wish I could broadcast her words to people who think it impossible for this country to ever live up to its written doctrine of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, when its foundation stones are red with the blood of expelled and exploited peoples. So yes, she said, her ancestors were brought here against their will. But there was a fight, rights were won. It was a slow, and as yet incomplete fight, but we must continue to fight on, to make this country be what it professed to be at its inception.

I too feel this way about the contradictions in the United States’ past and its future. So while I still find it interesting when people on the national stage are willing to go ahead and talk about the skeletons ‘in our closet’ that walk among us, I see, and they see, that they don’t contradict the purpose of these nationalistic gatherings when they do. As far as I can see, this country, this “experiment”, has yet to be actually carried out. And in hopes that it will be, I will try to pay more attention to politics, I will definitely go vote, and I will start voicing my concerns directly to my congresspeople. So it is with a hope for a disciplined approach to patriotism that I added that Chinese-made American flag key chain to my keys.

So, that’s a bit of what I was thinking as I listened to Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight. What random, yet telling, thoughts floated through your mind, O World?