X marks the spot. The spot where the ex has to take a stand. Perhaps even the spot where the ex eventually gets buried.
The Isaac Brock narratives turn on many different themes. How the ex came to be — and how the ex came to be even more subjected than the peculiar majority that remains encircled by the geographic borders that define such a singular nation as the United States.
The foremost word in this tangle is expatriation. The IRS offers Guidance for Expatriates Under Section 877A and Expatriation Tax. That is the you-can’t-go-home-again (if home it ever was) expatriation of an irrevocably redefined status.
The for-profit web site that calls itself “Expat Forum” decided in early 2012 that only the simulacrum of expatriation was a permissible topic. Overnight two of its highest-traffic threads vanished. When is an expatriate not an expatriate? When the talk gets real?
Opportunity. Marriage. Finance. Happenstance. War. Advantage. Education. Resistance. Heritage. Adventure. Preference. Labor. Fear.
These are among the factors that have produced the millions of the American diaspora. Diaspora may be the second most prominent term that is being used to describe what is going on right now. The scattering of a diaspora is the opposite of a magnet, of a new world that attracts. Always diaspora is a premonition of disaster; when full-blown, diaspora becomes a consequence. Immigrant transmutes to emigrant.
Lurking behind all of these words is exile, perhaps the most powerful word. Another ex word. The shame that the word exile brings to the word freedom, was, at the most abstract level, why Jimmy Carter historically had to extend unconditional pardon to the unresolved cases of Vietnam War offenders who remained outside the borders of the United States. Despite strenuous administrative efforts that had cleared most of the slate, a proclamation was required to erase that recalcitrant final residue.
The United States is on the verge of creating a real horde of exiles. Cases already abound of individuals who do not feel safe in crossing the security perimeter of the “homeland” (unfortunate term so associated with the segregation of recent South African history). Evidence grows that passports are being scanned for signs of U.S. origin. Uncertainty leads a majority to adopt a rational practice of staying off the radar, at least for the time being. Why choose to attract a heat-seeking missile rather than fly low? Even formal renunciants are left to speculate that their actions are being disappeared by dodgy statistics.
So far, the Isaac Brock Society web site has eschewed the word exile, except for the appeal to history in its inception, and in one other incidental occurrence.
For meditation, here are two brief passages from an essay by Leszek Kolakowski titled In Praise of Exile:
More often than not, however, modern expatriates have been refugees, rather than exiles in the strict sense; usually they were not physically deported from their countries or banished by law; they escaped from political persecution, prison, death, or simply censorship.
That the position of an outsider offers a cognitive privilege is well known and unquestionable. A tourist often sees thing which a native does not notice, as they have become a natural part of his life.
We have become the tourists to the United States who can scarcely tell the natives what we are seeing.