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Being Alone, America, and Arguing: Atlantic Popular Latest SectionsMagazine More Subscribe IDEAS Don't Strip ISIS Fighters of Citizenship Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana are products of their own societies-they can't just be disowned EB 25, 201 Graeme Wood wri t The Atlan MORE BY GRAEME WOOD Will John Bolton Bring on rmageddon-Or Stave It Off? GRAEME WOOD The Two Amy Klobuchars GRAEME WOOD The Vatican and the Gulf Have a Common Enemy GRAEME WOOD Jamal Khashoggi?s rder Remains a Renu Begum, the sister of Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister. (REUTERS) ery GRAEME WOOD In October 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald presented himself to the U.S. consul in Moscow and attempted, without success, to rid himself of his U.S. citizenship. The Warren Commission Report describes his frustration: First he told the consul, Richard E. Snyder, that he wanted to give up his citizenship. The consul refused to accept his declaration, so Oswald picked up a pen and put it in writing. To remove doubt, he added that he intended to defect to the Soviet Union and pass along secrets he had learned during his service as a U.S marine. Denied again, he wrote to the consul days later, protesting the deprivation of his "legal right" to stop being American. To him, being American was a disease, and his government was withholding the cure har Tweet Email Two women, Shamima Begum of the United Kingdom and Hoda Muthana of the U.S., recently discovered that the cure is worse than the disease. Both had traveled to join the Islamic State (Begum at 15 and Muthana at 2o), and upon arrival urged others to follow them or to kill random people at home. A common ritual among travelers to Islamic State territory is a bonfire of passports, symbolizing the shedding of their former nationality. Muthana appears to have burned hers, and both women left little doubt that they intended, like Oswald, to leave their countries and betray them to an enemy state. Kurdish forces are now holding them captive, and they both want to go home. On Tuesday, the U.K. informed Begum that it had revoked her citizenship. The next day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Muthana, too, is someone else's problem. He declared that she was never a citizen to begin with because she was born in the United States while her father was here as a Yemeni diplomat, and children born to diplomats cannot claim birthright American citizenship. (Muthana's family claims that the father had left diplomatic service when she was born, and that they gave the Obama administration proof of that when first confronted with this argument in 2016.) The upshot for both women, now marooned in the Syrian desert, is that they are alone and have very grim futures. How easy should it be to give up your citizenship? In the era of Oswald, it could be difficult-like joining aspirants until they kneel in the snow for a few days outside the monastery or consulate's doors. Now a U.S. citizen can stop being American with a single visit to a consulate. (Most renounce not for ideological reasons but to avoid the complications of living as an American expatriate, subject to dual taxation and bureaucratic requirements far more onerous than for expatriates of almost any other country.) an especially se lective monastic order that turns away But to argue that these women have given up their citizenship through informal means-by tweeting ghoulishly, burning a passport, or joining a terrorist group is still a novelty and, according to an emerging consensus, a bad idea. Most terrorism experts seem to agree that stripping the citizenship of ISIS fighters is either imprudent or illegal or both A worthless traitor in the media blames America for other worthless traitors in ISIS, and tells us to let them in.

A worthless traitor in the media blames America for other worthless traitors in ISIS, and tells us to let them in.

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