Yesterday I noted that some Canadians have been complaining about Canada's recognition of dual citizenship. This seems to have surfaced in connection with Canada's evacuation of its citizens in Lebanon. These bigoted rumblings, which only recently came to my attention, question the loyalty of dual citizens, and call on Canada to force immigrants to choose between their country of birth and their chosen country. (For a capsule version of the issues, see this essay, along with the comments that follow.)

In comments here yesterday, Impudent Strumpet said:
As for the dual citizenship thing, I find it odd that people are so focused about whether dual citizens are "loyal" to Canada, when in my own life as a Canadian-born Canadian citizen the fact of my loyalty or lack thereof has never come up. It might be because I'm young and sheltered, but I've never been in a situation where, if I had been loyal to another country over Canada, it would have made any difference to anything. I may well be only using Canada for convenience too, I've never actually had to think about it.
I thought this was great, and it really made me think. What exactly does it mean to be loyal to a country? And if we can define it, would be it be a good and desirable thing?

Does loyalty mean "My country right or wrong"? We've seen what that attitude leads to. I've been accused of disloyalty to the US, since I chose to leave. I suppose I have been disloyal - because the US has been disloyal to its own ideals.

That's really the crux, I think: we should be loyal to ideals, to values, and we should support whoever supports those values. When our country lives up to the values we admire, or at least strives to, we support it. When it turns its back on them - when it chooses authoritarianism over democracy, empire over self-determination, conformity over personal liberty, selfishness over community - we have to speak up. Dissent is not disloyalty.

However, if dissent is consistently ignored, and the country continues to march to a dangerous beat, disloyalty may be the right thing to do. Imagine, once upon a time, if a few million Germans had been a little more disloyal.

In this sense, loyalty is the wrong word entirely. When a person flees their country because it has been taken over by a dictator, are they being disloyal to their country? The country they love and value no longer exists. They can either be loyal to the dictator, or if they're lucky, get out. Immigrants who have escaped fascist regimes all say the same thing: I love my country, but the country I love no longer exists.

How are people who are citizens of only one country more loyal than dual citizens? In our average, daily lives, how are any of us loyal to our country? By paying taxes? Dual citizens do that, of course - as do non-citizen residents such as myself. There must be something more than that, no?

If Canadian dual citizens live and work outside of Canada, then they don't pay Canadian taxes - but then, they don't use Canadian services, either. How, then, are they "freeloading"? (Freeloading being one of the charges leveled against dual citizens. Click at your own risk - it's pretty disgusting.)

Are the Canadians opposing dual citizenship imagining a scenario where the country of birth wages war against Canada, and the dual citizen must choose which side to support? Seems a bit far-fetched, in today's world. Even so, history shows that country of choice will usually win over country of birth. It was usually chosen because it's a better place to live.

So (as I said yesterday in comments), assuming none of us are terrorists planning to blow up a building in Ottawa, how could any of us be loyal or disloyal to Canada?

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