Being British allows me to live and work in China, my passport gives me access unhindered to many countries in the world and the ease of visas to many others.
However, the simple chance of birth should not breed entitlement in me or a sense of my freedoms being any different to the rights of humans everywhere. I am aware of the millions around the globe who have no such rights and no such access. The closing down of borders to those who are fleeing war, deprivation and persecution in their own lands is deeply troubling.
The president of the United States has rumbled through a week with boorish and terrible power signing executive order after executive order. And now this; a ban which discriminates against people by their race, religion and country, one which has caused many to be held at airports unable to get home or reach their families.
America, it is up to you to decide what to do about your president. He is, literally, not my president. I had neither the power to vote him in, neither do I have the power to vote him out. As a human being though, I stand for the rights and freedoms of all those around the world. My British nationality does not restrict me to fight only for my country (something the British PM only barely seems to be doing herself). I oppose everything about this man, what he is doing and what he stands for. And it seems to be entirely counter to the freedoms fought for in the War of Independence. Amidst all that has been going on this week, I took heart from re-reading The Declaration of Independence, which states:
A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
He has, in recent days been titled ‘autocrat’ and ‘demagogue’ by people of various countries and political standpoints. With the usurper’s skill and lack of shame, he has taken on the unofficial title ‘leader of the free world’. And he seems bent on using his executive power to silence opposition and force through change without consultation.
In the face of this, I can do little except write and protest. And even my power to protest is limited by living abroad. However, there is one thing I am sure of; as a British citizen I do not want this man to have the right to visit my country. I have signed a petition (already at 1.6 million signatures) to prevent him from making a state visit to the UK. Back home, many people have come out onto the streets to protest against my government’s lack of response to his actions and oppose a visit to the UK.
So although I do not see my citizenship as a restriction on compassion and support for the rest of the world’s citizens, I can use it to fight against a power which is becoming more autocratic and dictatorial by the day.