Evolution of Terms
A History of Citizenship Terms
In the common venacular, the term used to describe someone who is a member of a national family is “citizen”. But in some situations the use of that term alone can cause the uncertainty of ambiguity. Did language devolve to that situation or was it always so unclear? I believe an answer can be found in an analogous situation. It occurred back at the end of the 19th Century after the invention of the motion picture camera and projector. For nearly three decades modern people were able to enjoy a new and highly popular form of entertainment which they viewed in theaters. There they saw photo images that, instead of being motionless, actually moved. They coined a name for them and that name was “movies”. As a result, there was a problem of how to distinguish in speech between photography that moved and photography that for three quarters of a century didn’t move, but was still. So they had to re-name that which had not needed re-naming for multiple generations by calling it “still photography”.
The same kind of thing happened again but the second time it only took about 30 years.After calling moving pictures “movies” for most of the lifetime of perhaps half the citizenry, they public was again forced to re-name them because of the introduction of movies that not only moved but also talked, -having sound added to them. So they called the new format “talkies”, and the original “movies” then because “silent movies”
But the name “talkies” or “talking movies” sounded awkward and everyone was accustomed to calling motion pictures “movies”, so as soon as all film productions without sound ceased , the need to distinguish between “silent movies” and talking movies vanished. Then everyone could finally go back to just calling them “movies”, which was much simpler. The same thing has occurred regarding the use of the word “citizen”.
In a fictional country, mostly based on reality, the people who founded a new nation were also the ones who gave birth to its first generation of born citizens. Everyone born to a founding couple was a citizen by birth to them. They all comprised the citizenry of the new nation and they all were its natural citizens. It was very simple and clear. But then the clarity ended when something new appeared, -something that necessitated re-naming those who were the original citizens in order to distinguish them from a new kind of citizen, -a kind of citizen that was not a natural citizen, that was not born a citizen.
They were the immigrants who were allowed to become natural-ized citizens by a process intended to strip them of their former citizenship, -not simply grant them a second citizenship. They were only allowed to have one citizenship and that was their new one, or they would not become new citizens alongside the normal citizens. If they did not undergo the citizenship “reassignment” process, then any children born to them would not be born as citizens. So it would be the case that their children could not be called “natural citizens” nor “born citizens”, nor even natural-ized citizens because they would be citizens of the father’s nationality by political inheritance from him. *
Outside of the major areas of immigrant settlement, essentially all of the citizens were descendents of the ealier citizens so they were all just simply called citizens. But it the big cities, in the melting pots of multiple nationalities, they had to distinguish between children of immigrant citizens and those of normal citizens, so they called the normal citizens “natural citizens” or “born citizens” or “natural born citizens”, thereby avoiding confusing them with the new form of citizen which was the natural-ized citizen.
But as the national population expanded, mostly by birth, people lost sight of the difference in the types of citizens, and everyone in most people’s lives were born citizens, or natural citizens, so no one had to distinguished between different types of citizens. That allowed them to not have to describe their citizenship with adjectives but to be free to refer to everyone they knew as simply citizens, just as “talking movies” reverted to simply “movies”. That re-simplification resulted in a re-simplification of people’s thinking about the meaning and history of the word “citizen”. They forgot. They no longer knew about the need to distinguish between types of citizens (natural citizens versus non-natural citizens) because they were never taught the difference. It didn’t really matter. But it did matter in one, and only one case. That is the case of who is allowed to be the Commander in Chief of all the armed forces of the nation, as well as the chief executive responsible to carry out the laws of the nation.
The Constitution of the United States forbids anyone who is not a natural born citizen from servicing as the President. But the people have forgotten (i.e. never learned) the difference that the Constitution is worded to distinguish.
That is the pathetic ignorant situation that America is in today, and it is true not just of the population in general, but also of those who represent them in Congress. That ignorance allowed the candidacy of Barack Obama to develop, to go forward, to gain momentum, to win the Party’s nomination, and to win the election for the Office of the President. The result is that we have a President who, by the very Constitution that he is sworn to preserve, protect and defend, is ineligible to take that oath and assume that office because he is not a natural born citizen but, instead, is a citizen by naturalization law. Being a citizen by naturalization law is being a citizen by the “new” model of citizenship, which is distinguished from the original model of natural citizenship, (the citizenship of those who were born citizens). But no one who is a citizen by the “new model” is eligible to be the President because of the prohibition written in stone in the very body of the Constitution itself. Article II, Section 1, paragraph 5 states; “No person, except a natural born Citizen…shall be eligible to the Office of the President,…”.
But does anyone care? You can’t care about something that you don’t even know about. Will anything be done about the transgression against the Constitution? No. The buck stops nowhere because there is no body established to insure the legitimacy of candidates for the office of the President. The Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, will do everything in their power to avoid having to accept a challenge to the President’s legitimacy because it would represent a threat to the independence of the co-equal branches of government for any court to decide the fate of a duly elected and sworn President. Unless charges against him are brought forward in an impeachment proceding in Congress, his tenure in the White House is absolutely secure. But charges will never be brought against him for violating “vaguely defined” terms, so the only practical basis would be the crime of forgery, which he facilitated through ordering the creation of two counterfeit birth documents.
* Children of non-naturalized immigrants were not uniformly deemed to be U.S. citizens until the Supreme Court in the government’s case again Wong Kim Ark in the 1880’s ruled that by the 14th Amendment, birth in the United States to persons that were subject to the jurisdiction of the United States (domiciled permanent residents) was a constitutional basis by which one acquires citizenship at birth even though the parents were not citizens.
A.N. Nash Sept 4, 2011