What does it mean to be a citizen? Is it about being able to cast a vote? Or is it about more advanced forms of democratic participation—what Danielle Allen would term “co-creating ways of life”?
A new essay from Matthew Longo argues that this question is increasingly necessary, for we are living in a world where passports are no longer guarantees of the right to belong. “It does not matter if you are an American; if you are deemed risky, you will be stopped on arrival,” Longo writes. “An Arab American woman is more likely to be stopped than is a jet-setting Swiss banker, even though she is returning home.” Citizenship, he argues, is being eroded.
This week’s archival picks would agree. Delve into the ethics of citizenship-for-sale programs; how immigrants are pressured into supporting U.S. foreign policy to show that they “belong”; and W. E. B. Du Bois’s experience of having his citizenship revoked.
We have surrendered the cherished value of “innocent until proven guilty” for the security logic that we are all “risky until proven safe.”
Preparation for democratic citizenship demands humanities education, not just STEM.
W. E. B. Du Bois may be our keenest critic of Trumpism today.