Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s single most illuminating statement in the course of a just-completed overseas tour was his self-description during the stop in Berlin as a “citizen of the world.” Widely interpreted as nothing more than an innocuous expression of solidarity with his adoring, post-nationalist hosts, this declaration is actually just the latest indication that Senator Obama embraces a vision of his own country and its role in the world that should be exceedingly worrisome to America’s citizenry.
The appellation “Citizen” has a checkered past. French revolutionaries used it first to distinguish the common man from the reviled aristocracy, then to enforce their reign of terror on both. Orson Welles entitled his classic film modeled on the life of William Randolph Hearst “Citizen Kane” – depicting an unscrupulous demagogue who, despite his privileged background, nearly obtained high elective office on a populist platform.
Now Citizen Obama uses a turn of phrase with no less troubling overtones. The notion of world citizenship has become a staple of transnationalists who seek to subordinate national sovereignty and constitutional arrangements to a higher power. They are working to replace, for example, our directly elected representatives operating in a carefully constructed system of checks-and-balances, with rule by unaccountable elites in the form of international bureaucracies, judiciaries and even so-called “norms.”
Citizens of the world can have their rights circumscribed or even eliminated without their consent. For instance, in March the Organization of the Islamic Conference – what amounts to a Muslim mafia organization – demanded that the UN Human Rights Council (dominated by the OIC’s members) amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The effect was to alter the foundational freedom of expression so as to prohibit speech that offends adherents to Islam.
World citizens embrace the idea that the United Nations and other multinational organizations are imbued with a moral authority not found in nation-states like ours. When he was the Democratic Party standard-bearer, Senator John Kerry famously described American foreign and defense policy as only being legitimate when it passed a “global test” – in other words, approval by the international community.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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