The Right to Defend One’s Inner Heart

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

By Daniel Nardini

When the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected her application for becoming a U.S. citizen because she checked “no” in the box that said if she was willing to bear arms and defend the United States, she was expressing her deeply held personal beliefs about violence. Because she did not come from a traditional religious order that forbids her from the use of violence, the U.S. government rejected her application from becoming a U.S. citizen. Adriana Ramirez simply expressed the truth about her views and why she was not willing to bear arms no matter what the circumstances. Coming from Colombia, she has probably seen more violence and bloodshed than the average American can ever fathom. After contacting the American Humanist Association, they took her case, arguing that it is unconstitutional for the U.S. government to reject her application for speaking the truth.

When a would-be applicant for U.S. citizenship tells the truth about their feelings, and is willing to risk even denial of citizenship for that truth that he/she believes in so strongly, does the U.S. government have a right to deny this person citizenship? Isn’t the truth the very thing that we as a nation and a people want from those who wish to become American themselves? Ramirez was simply expressing a strong ethical rather than religious view that violence and the bearing arms was simply plain wrong. This view is still protected by the U.S. Constitution that makes it clear that the right to freedom of speech and freedom of conscience must be protected. Ramirez could have just as easily lied and checked the “yes” box stating she would bear arms and defend the United States.

But that would be a lie in her heart, and living with a lie, even to gain something as highly valued as U.S. citizenship, would be sending the wrong signal to all those who may also wish to become American. Isn’t one of the values of being an American the right to be able to live with their own values and conscious decisions? Fortunately U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reversed its decision and Adriana Ramirez was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Congradulations Ramirez, and welcome to the United States! I am happy that this lady did not reject the beliefs that was deepest in her heart, and I am happy that my country did not reject such a person willing to become not only an American but to being the truthful and compassionate person she is!

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