The Red Passport and the Blue

It’s Thursday – just one more to go.

My blue passport arrived.  I’m feeling good, but not as thrilled as I used to.

I love Europe, not the EU

As you Rude readers know, I just received my Italian citizenship and passport. I was thrilled to get it. For the last ten years, I have felt naked with only one passport.

Since I renounced my American citizenship, I had only been a British citizen, but the Italian passport offered me many options.

First, it was easier for my wife to get citizenship and a valuable passport rather than her Filipino one, which rates poorly on the Passport Index.

Second, it was more opportunities for my son.  With British, Italian, and Filipino passports, the world is his oyster.

Third, it was an excellent opportunity for me.

We could live in the EU.

As much as I loathe the EU as a political institution, I love Europe, and I didn’t want to be denied the possibility if I had the right to live there.

I’ve been celebrating ever since.

Better Get the New Blue One While We’re At It…

The day I got my Italian passport, I filled out all the online applications for Micah and me to get our new British passports.

Micah will be five in February, and I thought I’d get a head start as children need to renew their passports every five years.

I decided to get the new blue British passport because, well, why not? I can synchronize with Micah, and I can get a different colored passport.

It was amusing because the UK technically is my first passport.  As for Italy, I’ve not lived there yet.

Yesterday, I received my British passport in the mail, and I distinctly remember having a different feeling receiving my first British passport back in December 2005.

Give Up My US Citizenship?  Nonsense!

I became a British citizen in December 2005, and I was thrilled about it. But back then, it didn’t mean so much to me that I was renouncing my American citizenship.

I distinctly remember the British authorities asking me this question while scheduling my citizenship swearing-in ceremony, “Do you intend to give up your American passport?”

My answer was an emphatic “No!”

I remember being surprising and puzzled as to why they’d even ask such a question.

I had no intention at the time of giving up my American passport. I just wanted to have an extra British passport because I was living in London.

At the time, I thought I was going to live there forever.

I had no plans to go to Asia. And if I were, I would live there for only two years and come right back to sprinkle my CV with international experience.

That was the original plan when I left for Asia in January of 2009. I just got stuck out here for 13 years.

My intention was always to go back to London, but then one thing led to another. I got married. My wife wanted to stay in Singapore.  Then we thought we’d go, but we couldn’t unless we got married.

Then we got married and realized we didn’t want to move back to London straight away because the financial crisis was still on.

And then it just got harder and harder to go back.

Watching the news come out of England is as much a slow-moving car crash as it is coming out of America. It’s a damn shame. I’ve felt that way for a long time.

Convenience and Belonging

When I re-entered London Heathrow with a UK passport for the first time, I didn’t have to fill out a landing card.

I did every time before that, even though I had been living there for six years.

I’d also be able to get on and off the Eurostar faster. It was a hoot.

But it was more for convenience than out of any sense of patriotism, though I must admit I was the proudest Londoner on the planet.

Watson was right. London is the cesspool into which all the idlers and the loungers of the Empire inevitably drain.

I felt the same way about myself. I was not an idler and a bounder, but I just didn’t fit in New York. I didn’t like New York at all, and I found London to be unbelievably receptive to people like me: outcasts.

It’s funny how when all the outcasts get together, they make one hell of a Dickensian family.

I loved it. I loved being a British citizen. I loved sharing my passport with my friends. All of my friends who are not native-born Englishman have British passports. We’re all double passported now. And we loved it.

This Time It Really Is Different

But this time is very different. I was an ardent Brexiteer. I voted “Out!” enthusiastically.

I asked Ned, one of my besties in the UK, to cast my vote because I was in Hong Kong when the vote took place.

I’m assured he voted out for me, even though he voted to stay in. In effect, our votes canceled each other out.

That reminds me!  I think I still owe Ned dinner for that. Ned, I apologize.

This time, actually looking at my British passport, the new navy blue one, the non-EU we-don’t-do-burgundy-passports-’round-here-no-more passport,  I am happy that it is once again an independent country.

But I just don’t feel the overwhelming pride and happiness I did the first time I received it. Well, that might just be the law of diminishing marginal returns. I get that, but I think it has much more to do with the way the politics have gone.

Admittedly, I was an ardent Boris Johnson supporter. I thought he was a libertarian Tory. I thought he would pull back regulations and lower taxes and open the country up to more business.

Boris has done the polar opposite.

He shut the place down multiple times with conflicting orders, just like Dr. Fauci in the United States. He has been an utter disaster. 

I genuinely feel bad about supporting Boris because I’ll tell you what, I’m not sorry about supporting Trump.

Joe Biden is just about all the evidence you need to see how much better Trump was as a president than people give him credit for.

But Boris, I can’t believe how wrong I was about Boris.

I also can’t believe how the British population is just so happy to surrender their civil liberties. 

And I am devastated that more of them aren’t protesting against things like vaccine passports for kids who want to rave at dance halls.

Kids who want to dance in dance halls don’t die of COVID. Neither do their younger brethren. 

It’s ludicrous.

As a result, I don’t look at England as the land of the Magna Carta anymore at all.

I look at England as a quasi-communistic island that has broken away from another quasi-communistic continent and has lost its way a bit.

It’s not the kind of place that I want to raise my son. Now, you must understand that this country built the West Africa Squadron in the Royal Navy to end slavery.

It is the least racist country I have ever been to, and I’ve written about that before.

But I’ve never seen a country feeling so guilty over its past. Sure, it had an empire, but nobody alive today is responsible for that empire.

I understand that Indians hate Winston Churchill for diverting food from them to England in World War II. 

I get the Irish hating the English because of the famines, the Corn Laws, and Cromwell.

But at the same time, that was hundreds of years ago. I just don’t get the current hostility from other nations.

But worse is self-loathing. I don’t want to live in a country where, even though Micah is mixed race, half white, half Asian, he starts to hate his white self because everything white is terrible.

It’s ridiculous. And I don’t want him to be pilloried because he’s a boy and boys suddenly have to be effeminate and make way for the girls.

Screw that.

I’m going to teach him how to fight for his place.

He’ll earn it, but he’ll fight for it. I guarantee you that.

When my blue passport arrived today, yes, I’m still grateful I’ve got the privilege.

I’m grateful for all the places it allows me to travel to.

But, I’m going to stay away from that place for the time being until it sorts itself out.

What it brought home was how grateful I am to have a second citizenship and passport.

All the best,

Sean

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