Sunday, March 06, 2005

It's all a matter of classification

I've been reviewing the N400 form needed to apply for US citizenship. The form is here[^]. Yeah, it's 6 months away but there's nothing like being prepared. I find it includes these questions.

Page 7 - Q9. Have you EVER been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:

a: The communist party?

b: Any other totalitarian party?

c: A terrorist organization?

Hmmmm. Which communist party? I've never been a member of the Australian Labour Party but I've certainly voted for em, and they were (in the 1970's) a left-wing party. Would membership of the Australian Communist Party (which would be a joke) disqualify me?

Now I know they've given themselves an out in part b of the question; but the implication is that communist parties are the main evil. Presumably part b is meant to cover the fascists (Argentina in the 1970's), (Italy from 1922 to 1943) etc. But, to my reading, the entire thrust of the question is biased against left-wing thought.

It gets better. Q12 doesn't ask if you had been a member of the German Nazi party; merely if at anytime between March 23 1933 and May 8 1945 you had worked for or associated in any way with the Nazi's. Methinks that's rather a broad brush. Suppose you'd been working for a German newspaper on March 22 1933 and the next day you were still working for them. Would that count? Even if you'd been naive and not been able to foresee the next dozen years? Or suppose you'd known someone who was a member of the party and dined with them? That word 'associate' would condemn you whatever your 'association'. Hmmm, one of the people at my office is a Republican; geeze does that make ME a Republican? (for the record - over my dead body).

Now as it happens my first wifes father was a pilot for the Luftwaffe during WW2. I met him once, in 1979. Does that mean I need to answer YES to that question?

I remember being somewhat amazed when, in 1982 whilst filling out my application for a 5 year multiple entry visa to the US (this was before the days of the Visa Waiver Program) I had to declare that I had never been a member of the German Nazi Party. Even when the VWP was phased in that question remained though it's since been dropped. We're now 60 years past the end of Nazi Germany; I wonder how much longer that question will remain.

I have to admit I also wonder at the fate of those who were members of the German/American Bund in the 1930's.

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