I was asked a question in class last week that resonated, but I did not really think much of it at the time: “Is citizenship a social construct?” Automatically, I wanted to say no because citizenship gives me a guaranteed home, an identity and a voice in many ways. A few days later, I realized that my answer was wrong because it did not cater to the 21st century and the things going on in the world today. So now my answer is: yes, we are converting citizenship into a social construct. How? I will give you the example of Christiane Taubira.
Christiane Taubira was the French minister of justice until last week. According to BBC, she resigned because the French parliament will soon be presented with anti-terrorism proposals that she opposes. These laws would strip citizenship from people convicted of terrorist acts. There is the catch, however — citizenship would only be able to be stripped from people who have dual citizenship, because a person cannot be completely revoked of citizenship from all countries.
What does this mean? It means that people who have solely French passports but are involved in terrorism activities will retain their French citizenship, BBC reported. Yet people who have a French passport in addition to another country’s will get their French passport revoked. This is supposed to help the problem and start the process of relieving France from the state of emergency it has been functioning under since the terrorist attacks in Paris last November. But how will this work?
How does this help the fight against terrorism? Realistically speaking, is a passport withdrawal going to stop terrorist acts? Moreover, are purely French people completely innocent?
I have grown up thinking that citizenship cannot be revoked. Where someone is born is part of their identity. I consider dual citizenship a development in identity, merging where I was born with a family history or a home away from home. Now, France wants to only punish those who can say they are from two places, who are products of globalization. Citizenship is not set in stone anymore, so it is a social construct.
I should not be surprised. It is the 21st century, an era in which we are realizing that everything can be broken down, restructured and overtly analyzed. I am surprised, however, because this social construct is not the 21st century being eye-opening, it is a globalized world being exclusivist and naive.
People need to stop thinking that a passport defines someone’s actions. If people want to make citizenship a social construct, then do it the right way. Realize that your citizenship might just be a booklet and a geographical location of your birth, nothing else and nothing more. Realize that people of a certain country are not terrorists by default. Simultaneously, people from other countries are not automatically the terrorized. People are responsible for their actions, countries are not.
Being able to only revoke citizenship from people with dual nationalities does not make sense for the objective. This breakdown of what citizenship should mean does not make sense.
“Sometimes staying on is resisting, sometimes resisting means leaving,” Taubira tweeted Wednesday, according to a BBC translation.
I hope her leaving raises questions and makes people realize that sometimes fear can overpower someone, and sometimes fear might just give rise to a wrong decision.