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."