Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The New York Times is reporting Michael Chertoff's discovery that holders of British passports are not all tea-drinking, skittles-playing, fox-hunting white people. The story notes that some British people emigrated there from Pakistan, and these Britons travel to Pakistan as well as to the United States. I would have thought the New York Times editors would have already come to this conclusion, based on the many Britons of non-European ancestry it reports on each week.

But the headline as well as the tone of the story are telling. It's a "loophole" that British people who happen to have Pakistani heritage are able to enter the United States without a visa. Such a loophole needs to be closed. It has become something normal and obvious that all people of Pakistani ancestry should need a visa to enter the United States, be they citizens of Canada, the United Kingdom, or France.

So what about Americans of Pakistani heritage? Should they have to get a visa to go to England? To Pakistan? Should they even be allowed to travel at all? If the US requires visas for an ethnic class of British citizens, what's next? Poland requiring German-Americans to apply for visas? Sweden requiring visas for Italian Americans? The mind boggles.

Since the Second World War, it has been commonly accepted that citizenship conferred fundamental rights to all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, parentage, etc. Great advances in civil rights for the past half century have been founded on this principle. But as someone recently suggested, we're witnessing "a drastic transformation of the world order that we will probably have to live with for as long as we can foresee."


At 8:28 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Sorry, I'm still going here. How does one even enforce such a law? I have a Swiss great-great-grandfather. My great-grandmother's grandfather is the only connection I have to Switzerland. Does that make me a Swiss-American? Would I be singled out as requiring a visa, or not? If a British traveler has a Pakistani grandmother but all her other ancestors are Afghan and Indian, would she need a visa? It's ridiculous.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

I guess what needs to have been discovered by the reporters was whether the British government tracks such data and uses it to identify individual British subjects. If it's a legitimate "box" on a national ID card, then it would be enforceable. Otherwise, it's just going to be too difficult for the US to apply the restriction. For example, will the requirement apply to those whose ancestry is "East Pakistani" (after 1971, "Bangladeshi") as well as "West Pakistani"? What about Britons who keep up relations with their relatives in Pakistan (proper), but whose ancestors came to Britain before 1947, from "India", and thus were some sort of British subject already? What about someone who came from a place that is now part of India, and thus someone whose direct ancestry includes no member who ever lived in Pakistan, but whose relatives relocated after 1947 to what is now Pakistan?


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