Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are we smart enough to be citizens?

We have available on this site this morning, the USCIS test which is administered to prospective new citizens. It consists of 100 questions about American civics and history. The requirements to pass the test are ridiculously low. For example: naming three of the thirteen original colonies earns a passing grade on that question. If, however, you are unfamiliar with our distinguished history and civics, the low bar seems fair. After all, these folks did not have the advantage of a stellar education in America’s public schools.

The answers are given immediately after the questions so if you choose to read through the test you will gently be reminded of the facts. The test, in actuality, is given orally so the student is not challenged to have mastery of the English language. It is even printed in several other languages, popular among emigrants.

As I read through, it came to mind that the same test might be fairly administered to those persons who claim to be prepared to vote in our elections. I can only wish it were possible to see the results of American voting citizens vs. newcomers to the United States. Check out the test and then we’ll discuss it further.

In daily conversations I am reminded of how hopelessly illiterate we are about our history and matters constitutional. Absent capable civic minded instructors, many of these could be countered by “dinner table” learning. Do people still eat together?

Those who operate as “families” are far more likely to have serious discussions of issues than those who simply “roost” in the family home. I am referring here to those who sleep, sometimes eat, tend to personal hygiene, and use their homes for personal storage of goods and chattels. Family interchange is for them not the most important priority. Do we actually discuss matters of current interest? Was election talk “off limits?” Is faith a topic of conversation? Since they are all inter-related, do we seek their relationship?

Although I wish the standards were higher, I applaud the test and welcome those who can pass it and wish them well as new citizens. Given our history, we need to encourage the best and the brightest to come join us and share this marvelous country and its opportunities. I shall reserve my criticism to those who are natural born persons who have little knowledge of the gift of their birth here. To have the best the world has to offer and still not understand it is unconscionable.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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