Amendment XIV

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

That is the 14th Amendment. ratified in 1868. More astute readers may notice the date, or the frequent mentions of insurrection or treason. This was enacted during a period frequently glossed over in US history as “The Reconstruction Period,” which was a period when the US military (the real one, not the woefully underequipped, undersupplied, and, frankly, treasonous one lead by Robert E. Lee)(may his soul be trapped in a desk at the admissions office of Howard University) occupied the South, which enabled the black community there to establish businesses, politicians, etc. — all before the era of Jim Crowe, which was a reactionary movement to racial and economic equality. Short of unleashing Sherman back on the south to carve, “Black people are citizens, too, assholes” on every confederate grave stone, it’s hard to miss the intention of the amendment; to establish all former slaves as US citizens (effectively trying to remove the stain of the Dred Scott decision), and barring Confederate leaders from taking federal office. It was meant to be an end of slavery, at the federal level, by redefining citizenship to include everyone who had been a slave, just a few short years ago.

As far as amendments go, this one is huge, because it says that the federal government doesn’t get to redefine who is and who isn’t a citizen based on a whim. Naturally, like all things that stop people with organic brain disease (and that includes me, sadly) from randomly enacting policy, The Donald does not like this. He is, sadly, not alone in this; racists have hated this amendment since it was passed.

Even though racism may appear differently in different places and eras (and is closely tied to classism and elitism), my own informal studies suggest that the common, universal aspect of prejudice — in all forms and flavors — is exclusion. Any time someone else gets a seat at the table, people who “worked hard” and totally didn’t win the womb lottery, feel threatened. Frankly, I have no idea why, having had minority roommates of various descriptions; I can only imagine racists are horrified that a decent party will break out, or, God forbid, someone will eat everything in the fridge and vanish for the duration of the Memorial Day weekend. Of course, I’m approaching this as a decent human being, and prejudiced people tend not to fall under that category.

Anyway, so, it’s long been a policy priority of the Sith Lords (or whatever the upper echelons of the KKK are called)(seriously, just Google it; I would not be surprised if “Chief Demagorgon” was an actual title) to repeal that Amendment; presumably so that they could reclassify citizenship to mean only the Waltons and Trumps, as God intended. Before you ask, yes, there are people (on the Internet, so, a 50–50 chance they’re just Russian or North Korean spam-bots) who claim that God is white. I think there’s a compelling argument for atheism based simply on who claims to be in God’s fan club, and how frequently an omnipotent, omniscient being just happens to resemble their followers, but I digress.

Because this is an amendment, despite the President (and David Duke’s) wet dreams, no one can just black out an amendment because they dislike it (this is Civics 101; an amendment can only be passed after 2/3 of Congress and the senate approve it, and 3/4 of the states do, too. We do not elect kings or tyrants, we elect politicians, who are — and must be — legally constrained. Trump has, however, announced that all filthy foreign-born scum with American parents are no longer automatically granted citizenship status. If I were a cynical man, I would read this as an opaque attack on John McCain (born in Panama in a US air base) and Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz (born in Canada), both of whom were, at various points, political rivals to our stable, intelligent, not-at-all-suffering-organic-brain-disease president. Imagine being US serviceman (or woman), going overseas, marrying a local, reproducing, then finding out that your children could not accompany you back home. I really hope enlistment rates are high enough to suffer that slap in the face (also, I’ve found out that the US is actively dismissing service members who are using the armed services as a means of obtaining citizenship)(it’s also worth noting that’s the promise of the French Foreign Legion; so, we’re looking at French military strategy and saying it’s a little too effective for our tastes).

If I were a cynical man, I’d say that this is a dangerous step toward creating a caste system under the guise of different forms of citizenship. Some animals are more equal than others. And, if I were a majority member, I’d be very, very careful about creating or endorsing policies that exclude or hurt the least among you. Because you’ll be here with us, sooner or later.

Of course, it’s also possible that this is genuinely well-intentioned-but-misguided policy (like GOP domestic policy prior to Cadet Bonespurs)(domestic policy now, as far as I can tell refers to staff members, not society). It’s also possible, what with the President demanding that everyone pay attention to him RIGHT NOW, the public will actually scrutinize this policy, the President’s actions, and the insidious historical context behind both, and decide that we’d rather not turn America into a horrific reality show, and show up and vote next year.

Written by

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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