Bonus Points If You Can Sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” In Its Proper Key

First, thanks to Gigi for her passionate comment on my post “Dogma Vs. Cheese.”

Second, let me return to the subject of my previous post, in which I advocated for amending the U.S. Constitution. I argued that being born in America should not be sufficient for citizenship. My idea is that people who want to be citizens should have to pass a test, just like naturalized immigrants do. One’s birthplace or family history would have nothing to do with it.

The piece was also published on the Huffington Post. There, I received dozens of comments, ranging from the thoughtful to the shrill. Joining the fray were conservatives who thought I was joking and liberals who said I supported literacy tests for voting. Because I pissed off individuals across the political spectrum, I figure that I must be on to something.

As an addendum to that post, let me point out that the U.S. government has recently reformatted the citizenship test. Now it’s less of a hodgepodge of rote and trivial questions, such as “How many stars are on the flag?”

There’s more of an emphasis on content, with questions like “What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?” In essence, you have to think a little more now.

It’s impossible to know how effective the test is unless one actually takes it. And nobody is going to devote the time, money, and stress to do that unless they absolutely have to. But there are a number of online study guides that give us a taste of what immigrants have to master.

For example, here’s the government’s official guidance on becoming an American.

Sadly, it doesn’t include tips on maintaining a hostile relationship with your next-door neighbor, or which flatscreen television you should buy that you can’t possibly afford. Clearly, there are some all-American concepts that immigrants will just have to learn on their own.

But my main argument stands: Immigrants have to learn about our country and prove their worthiness to stay, so we native-born citizens should have to as well.

In any case, if you’re so smart and bursting with patriotic vigor, let’s see how you would do on the new citizenship exam. Here’s a sample of the test.

Give it a shot, and try to imagine that your entire future rests on how well you perform on this exam.

You don’t have to tell me your score. 


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October 2008
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