(6) Home is where you live.
After the American Revolution defeated the British, the Loyalists to the crown fled–many of whom settled here in Ontario where I live today. The Americans seized their property in the US. The early Americans looked askance at those whose loyalties were stronger for their mother country than it was for the new homeland.
Now the situation is reversed and the USA requires Loyalist-like patriotism from its expats around the world. Yet I have found that the one of the major principles that has guided my actions in this IRS persecution of Americans abroad is that home is where I live–not where I come from. My instincts tell me to protect this community, the people who are near me.
American exceptionalism may require that I consider the USA my home. Indeed, sometimes when I passed the border, the US border guard would say, “Welcome home!” Each time I crossed the border, however, it felt less and less like home, and when finally I read about certain expectations that the USA had upon me and my family here in Canada, I realized that the USA had become foreign and hostile. My home is now here. It has been for quite some time.
Homelanders Abroad at American Expatriates Facebook Group
Homelanders Abroad are drawing lines in the sand
Who is the real Peter Dunn?
Previous Petros Principles:
(1) What the IRS can’t know unless you tell them can’t hurt you.
(2) Fear makes the IRS more dangerous than it really is.
(3) Haste is the devil
(4) Those most hurt by the IRS’s persecution of expats have engaged the services of cross-border compliance condors.
(5) Those least hurt have done nothing.
About: Petros is the alias of the founding administrator of the Isaac Brock Society. Petros Principles are guidelines that have helped him and others deal with the United States’ world-wide tax invasion.
The treatment of expatriates by the Government of the United States often defies explanation. It is burdensome, often frightening and usually threatening. It is also marked by confusion and lack of comprehension. In short, the attitude of some Americans toward the plight of expatriates is mystification, outright antipathy, or shoulder-shrugging “so what”–or all three. I am going to suggest that these things may be best understood by seeing it as analogous, at least, to behaviour which may be described as “religious.”
The U.S. effectively has what may be termed a “state religion.” Conor Cruise O’Brien calls it the “American Civil Religion” (following Rousseau). Its core is “Patriotism.” It has a deity (originally represented by “Lady Liberty”, but in more recent years by The Flag), tenets, rules and forms of worship. Its proponents behave very much like religious persons generally.
When I was a child of five, I began each school day with a little “religious” ritual. We would sing “America”, recite the Lord’s Prayer (King James’ version) and, of course, pledge allegiance to the Flag. Indeed, during my childhood years, the words of the pledge were altered to include the now controversial “under God”. This was a simple form of worship for a more simple time. Other simple forms included Memorial Day ceremonies at local town and village squares, local Independence Day celebrations and even boy and girl scout meetings. In time, however worship would encompass thousands of people in sports stadiums, enormous flags that would require troops of people to carry, celebrity singers of “America the Beautiful” and “To Anachreon in Heaven..”, oh sorry, “The Star Spangled Banner” (same tune), and military fly-overs.
This isn’t worship? Well, it’s a pretty good imitation. 50 or 60 thousand people with their hands over their hearts looks a lot like religious ritual–or would to an uninformed observer who didn’t know exactly what they was going on.
And of course there are the “saints”. “Land of the Pilgrims’ pride” celebrates the first real Americans, the first American “saints” (and indeed, the Pilgrims termed themselves “saints” in the traditional religious sense). Never considering, of course, that some descendants of these very “saints” would be driven out of their homes because they remained loyal to the Crown between 1775 and 1783.
But for sure there is “Saint Washington” (so sublime a saint that his monument has no graven image), “Saint Jefferson”, “The Sainted Father Abraham”, and so forth. All properly worshipped, each with his sacred shrine in Washington.
And there are the hymns. “America,” “America the Beautiful,” “Columbia Gem of the Ocean” …a particular 1991 recording of American patriotic hymns has a total of eighteen (but three would likely have to be discounted, because they are Confederate hymns). Even this collection does not include things like “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Over There..” I’ve been a Canadian for fifty years and, besides the national anthem, I can only think of two patriotic songs, “The Maple Leaf Forever,” and “Mon Pais…” (a third might be Stompin Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Song.”)
You need these hymns for the same reason you need the rituals, to keep people “in” the faith. The greater the emotional involvement, the more encompassing the faith.
And, of course, there are tenets of this religion. “The U.S. is the very cradle of freedom. “ ”The U.S. observes and upholds the rule of law.” “The U.S. is the exemplar of democracy.” And so forth. But above all, Patriotism holds that the United States is the greatest country that has ever existed. Ever. Sing it: “This is My Country, grandest on earth.”
And, having drunk this kool-aid from childhood, the average American cannot imagine why any person would not want to be an American. As proof of that particular pudding, there are the thousands upon thousands of “illegals” who would want nothing so much as the green card that will start them on the road to full U.S. citizenship, the most wonderful status available to any human being on the face of the earth. (And in addition, there are thousands more would-be illegals marshalling on the southern border of the United States).
All other citizenships pale by comparison. All are inferior to the glorious American nationality.
So why, in the name of all that is “holy”, would anyone ever consider giving up American nationality. This is what produces a reaction of “mystification” on the part of many, probably most, Americans. The United States is “My Country, grandest on earth,” so giving up its citizenship is beyond comprehension.
Antipathy and Punishment.
But there is another “religious”response. All religions are familiar with what can be called “heresy” or “apostasy”. And fully expatriating, divesting oneself of U.S. citizenship, aside from being incomprehensible, is clearly “heretical” and “apostastic.” What is more, it is very threatening to the true believers, especially if perpetrated by persons who were given the “kool-aid” at an early age and had the opportunity to drink it into their adult years. They must be extremely misguided at the least, deranged at the extreme. Because, in practice, expatriates have done what no reasonable believer could possibly have done: denied the tenets of the faith, denied that the U.S. is the “grandest” country on earth. What is more, they have advanced the heresy that other countries may be much better places in which to live.
For heretics, no punishment can be too great, no pain too exquisite. The medieval and renaissance Christians punished heretics by burning them at the stake, an absolutely horrifying punishment, employed because it was believed that fire purifies..
So, if expatriate Americans suffer, no problem. It’s a punishment fully justified by their heretical denials of the greatness of the United States, that inherent belief attested to at every football game in America by thousands who keep the faith and know the truth. If those who want to leave are forced to jump through hoops, again, no problem. Like those heretics who were purified by fire, the apostatic expatriate may be purified by delay. Then he or she will hopefully return to seeing the light. (As it was believed the purification by fire might, at last, “save” the heretic).
No. No punishment is too great in the defence of the faith.
Dialling down the burden–the shrug..
There is one more dimension on which the American state religion sheds light and it is this. Many religions, in varying degrees, demand “service” to the deity. In some instances that demand is so extreme that “service” becomes “servitude”, and it seems to me that the American state religion demands something approaching “servitude”.
“Service” involves a wide degree of “choice” and personal freedom and integrity, “servitude” is a situation in which the deity may demand much of the “server,” up to and including the surrender of life, without allowing much in the way of choice. The United States has always seemed to me to be on that end of the scale. Now I will admit to a personal bias here, since I have always resented the fact that the U.S. thought that I should be “pursuing happiness” in places like Nha Trang or Da Nang. I was not entitled to plan my life, had no choice as to whether or not I wanted to pursue my happiness in a land war in Southeast Asia. Servitude, pure and simple.
I was fortunate. I was able to avoid that awful mess. Legally. But it bespeaks a mentality. The United States is the greatest nation on earth. Citizenship in such a nation is so incredibly valuable that absolutely anything can be demanded of the citizen. Hence the nonsense: “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
For this mentality, the subjection of citizens to “internal” taxation when they do not live within the borders of the United States makes perfect sense. In effect, the prize of citizenship in the greatest country that has ever been has to be paid for. The United States is not required to actually do anything in return for tax monies collected–“Ask not what your country can do for you…”–as one political thinker would have required. Servitude in worship of the deity makes perfect sense to those who have drunk the kool-aid.
The United States is not the greatest country on earth in any particular other than obscene wealth and military muscle. It regularly scores relatively low on “pursuit of happiness” scales. For the living of ordinary life, the U.S. is inferior to any number of other countries on the planet.
When I was eighteen, I entered one of those countries (Canada) as a student. I very quickly realized that I was in a better place, a kinder, gentler, caring place. My fellow students were able to start planning their lives without having to think about giving up a minimum of two years to the great god (or goddess) of the state. By the time I had entered my second year of “university,” I knew where it was that I wanted to live and it was not the U.S.
I have been a Canadian in my mind ever since, and in reality for nearly 50 years. The United States is an alien government as far as I am concerned, and were it not a thug and a bully, it would actually observe the rule of law that it gives mere lip service to. One of the rules of that rule of law is that you do not get to create legislation which, (by any expedient pretext) allows you to reach across your territorial border and touch people and things in other countries. Instead the American thug visits upon me unlawful taxation requirements and the possibility of crippling penalties. And this is completely justified–in American eyes–because “servitude” requires that the “server” provide whatever is demanded.
Those Homeland Americans who have drunk deeply of the kool-aid will not care that this “servitude” is something they do not have to share. After all, not everyone was drafted. But the accepting of burdens, any burden at all regardless of whether or not it is shared, is a perfectly legitimate demand made by a state which is god.
Understanding of the clear wrongness of all of this is beyond those who worship at the shrines of Lady Liberty and The Flag. They don’t even recognize their military defeats, so how likely is it that they will admit to international wrongdoing.
Rather than being surprised by it, we should expect confusion and mystification when we want to leave. Rather than imagining that we will avoid it, we should expect punishment. Rather than hoping Americans will see how wrong they are, we should expect that they will shrug their shoulders and return to worshipping the Flag.
It’s their Faith. And faith, according to St. Augustine, is irrational. By definition.
Fantastic essay! One of the best I have seen!
Could we say that:
Homelanderism is a religious cult?
Thanks for reminding me of the book Liberty’s Exiles and the post that you linked to.
All those reading this site should read the book. Again, here is the link to the post.
And on the Pledge of Allegiance:
They’re a CULT; plain and simple.
I agree that the cult of American exceptionalism is a quasi-religion. But so is the Canadian version of statism; healthcare, education, science, technology. These are the idols of our time: https://righteousinvestor.com/2010/03/07/worship-the-invisible-god-or-our-modern-idols-which/
I had the experience of being called a traitor for relinquishing my US citizenship. I said as a Christian my country is not of this world–that we are just sojourners here, and that my true allegiance is to God, not some national entity. He continued to lambast me as a traitor. So I conclude that American exceptionalism must indeed be a religion, that the Homelanders are the parishioners, and that the president is the pope.
Original by Tom Gauld for Guardian Review (https://twitter.com/tomgauld/status/571994690289061888?lang=en)
So much for my embedding skills. You can click the twitter link for the cartoon image. It sort of encapsulates demonisation by lack of physical proximity in a humorous way.
Pilgrim7: Bravo! Spot on. I remember being taught, repeatedly, that Only In America could we worship as we pleased, elect our own leaders, get a good education and a good job regardless of our family’s background, etc. (I did wonder why, when we went to Canada for vacations, it seemed pretty nice, not the concentration-like place I expected to find everywhere outside the US. And in history class we learned about the other countries helping America win World War 2, and those soldiers thought they fought to protect their “freedom”, even thought they weren’t Americans!) I remember the change in the Pledge of Allegiance, and that it was controversial, because there was supposed to be Separation of Church and State.
By the Vietnam era, many jobs required a Loyalty Oath, even entry level ones, and Apostates were shunned, told My Country Right Or Wrong, and Love It Or Leave It. Of course, that turned out to be almost impossible.
The cult comparison works well only for those few cults that generations of families are born into.
It’s not surprising that members of these cults can’t imagine why anyone would leave unless they were inspired by Satan or Communism, or were mentally ill; they should be captured and returned for the protection of the group, for their own health, and even after death, for their Eternal Salvation or Estate Tax.
@Pilgrim7 Thank you for this. I have not heard it said better and it actually helped me understand the vitriol of many home landers better.
Your comment is so outstanding I took the liberty of reposting on citizenshiptaxation.ca and will post it on the expatriate FB sites. Bravo! Now let’s cross our fingers and see if a few are brave enough to see the truth of what they’ve been fed.
Don’t Expect Those who Worship at the Shrines of Lady Liberty and The Flag to Support Fellow Americans who are Expatriates >
It’s not that you lack skills; it seems that wp only will only let editors and admins embed tweets…..no idea why
Great post, Petros, and great comment by Pilgrim7. Like most of us US expats (except “accidentals”, of course), i was raised in the doctrine of US exceptionalism. Like Pilgrim7 I was fortunate to be able to immigrate to Canada long ago and, as Petros says, home is where you live, not where you come from.
As Benedict Anderson explains in his classic book “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism”, nations are products of collective imagination. I prefer the imagination of Canada as a peaceful, cooperative country of people from diverse backgrounds who support one other, in contrast to the imagination of the US that many people there (including Donald Trump) share: as a competitive country of winners and losers in a world of winners and losers.
Thank you so much for expressing this, Pilgrim. It is just what I feel deep in my being — and I am sure many others do who were born and raised in the US but who CHOSE to leave and eventually become citizens of Canada and other countries, each of our school days there started with the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America, etc. Way back in IsaacBrockSociety.ca time, I made many of the same observations though not at all expressed as well as you have here.
Not only a national religion as you describe, but one as extremist as many of the others the US shuns, one born of exceptionalism.
Yes, Petros, home is where I live. It is also the home of my Canadian-born and raised now adult children.
Nice going. Let me add another view…
As an 18 year old, I went to Vietnam to help kill people and to protect America – all on false pretenses (Tonkin Gulf Incident). Since moving to Canada during 1980, I have taken a keen interest in “seeing” what the U.S. is really all about, especially after WWII. This is some of what I discovered:
It became a totalitarian country of violence, corruption, racism, religious fanaticism, bigotry, 1%ism, plus more, all with roots in National Socialism (Nazi, for short) starting with the likes of Henry Ford and concluding with the Koch Brothers. All one has to do to confirm what I am saying is read the book “The Rise of the Forth Reich”, take notice of America’s real history of their militia and imperialistic mentality, and then take notice, and be fearful of, what is going on now which almost worse then what happened at Kent State and Chicago’s democratic convention.
My 94 year old mother still with all her marbles mourns what has become of the U.S., especially after seeing how my dad and everyone else post-war was regarding the rebuilding of America – housing and business boom, and all. And how, because the catastrophic effect that war had on every serviceman and servicewomen who fought and helped out during that war, never spoke about the catastrophic physical and mental effect the violence inflicted upon them by the Japanese and Germans. Now, it’s the U.S’s infliction of violence on other countries in their attempt (and success) to establish military presence world-wide under the guise of the one world power of the U.N. controlled by guess who. I’ve seen my mom cry over this stuff that hurts me more.
Interestingly enough, my mom was born in Canada, my dad’s mom was born in Canada, and my dad’s grandparents were born in Canada. I’m Canadian and I didn’t ask to be born in the U.S, and no one told me when I immigrated here. No one told me about anything about things like world-wide income responsibilities. No one told me that my kids were affected by U.S totalitarianism.
As a kid of the 50’s and 60’s, I benefited greatly by winning of that war There was peace and prosperity until Korea. But as a man in my very late 60’s, having lived here in Canada since the end of the 70’s, and as a keen observer of history and current events, including post-Kennedy presidents like Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama/Clinton II, and possibly another Clinton (or worse) as president, I am so glad to be living in Canada able (so far) to give the U.S. government the finger. The dictatorship of Eritrea, the only other country in the world where tax is paid on world-wide income, is small potatoes compared to the dictatorship of the United States.
I’m pissed off and have been advocating a march on Parliament Hill to protest Canadian subordination to the U.S. Government interests, and get some press coverage of Trudeau’s lie. But I can’t seem to get any traction.
If Trump gets in and a wall is actually built between the U.S. and Mexico, I’ll be the first to promote a wall on the 49th parallel and around the lakes. If that doesn’t happen, I’m moving my family to Mexico.
Bravo!! Best thing I have ever read here.
‘I have been a Canadian in my mind ever since, and in reality for nearly 50 years. The United States is an alien government as far as I am concerned, and were it not a thug and a bully, it would actually observe the rule of law that it gives mere lip service to. One of the rules of that rule of law is that you do not get to create legislation which, (by any expedient pretext) allows you to reach across your territorial border and touch people and things in other countries.’
You have said everything I believe, except I have a couple decades on you. And I would also throw in their obsession with a hundred flags on every bloody street and suburbian homes. What a successful flag industry. I should have bought stock.
The best thing my parents ever did for me was to get me the hell out of there at age 5 which was not soon enough.
Again, bravo and thank you for this. This plaintiff is smiling again. Kool-aid indeed.
@Pilgrim7– I read your essay post earlier today on one of the feeds (?? renounceuscitizenship.com or suchlike) . I read it 1-2-3-4 times–4th time i was in tears. I have to printed out several dozen copies to post snail mail to all “rabbit’s friends and relations” in Homeland . the URL is going in my handbag and passport add-ons. this is a SEMINAL post. — earthshaking to me to the same degree as John Whitehead’s “A Government of Wolves” —-@ brockers- love youall . you kept and still keep me sane. Heya to @Edelweiss-the cartoon came up gr8 in my chrome link and provided the antidote to the tears of recognitional joy occasioned by pilgrim 7 post. peeps– these is the best of times and worst of times and we do far far better things here than we have done before-OK i am mixing metafors to the dickens 🙂
@Pilgrim7 IMO, this almost sounds like one being a victim of US Homeland Patriotic religion.
I may understand if you do not agree with the following because of your background and relatively long time being a Canadian: I suggest not ‘screaming’ from ‘under the bus’ of the US Homeland Patriotic religion, but to ‘seize the flag’ and claim the high ground of Americanism and highlight that it is the American laws against US persons overseas themself that are un American.
No doubt the Pledge of Allegiance was said many times. Yet this was to founding principles of America, and not the un American laws arrayed in a discriminatory and punitive fashion against US persons resident overseas. I think this the best way.
A common Homelander reaction is the religion and ‘don’t let the door hit ya.’ We say, it is you who are un American who have forgotten American founding principles; who celebrate July 4th in a hollow manner without belief and understanding of American founding principles. !!
We know we will not convince a majority of Homelanders. We don’t have to. We just need to grow the community of the informed and outraged to better help support the law suits.
In regards to Canada, I may suggest this approach – please copy/use for Canada. This is a twitter picture I have sent with picture of the Australian Treasurer with message:
Respects US Tax Laws More Than He Respects Australian Sovereignty & Citizenship.
Should Defend Resident Australians from Unfair US Extraterritorial Tax and Compliance Laws.
Australia-US Tax Treaty Broke! Needs Fixing!.
When Homelanderism becomes a religion:
Thank you Petros, Pilgrim7, everyone.
“If Trump gets in and a wall is actually built between the U.S. and Mexico, I’ll be the first to promote a wall on the 49th parallel and around the lakes. If that doesn’t happen, I’m moving my family to Mexico.”
We’ll have to put one up between Alaska/Yukon/BC too or the bastards will try to take over from the West.