In one of the many ways the news media tries to influence public attitudes (which is not its job), the New York Times is constantly including propaganda of various subtlety to bolster the case of illegal immigrants, or as the Times dishonestly calls them, “migrants,” “undocumented immigrants,” or just “immigrants,” the most deceitful label of all. One sally consisted of arguing how unfair it was that those applying for citizenship had to answer questions that current citizens would struggle with.
A recent example was a quiz, culled from the 100 questions that examiners pick from at random when an aspiring citizen is completing the application process. “With your American citizenship on the line, could you answer the following question?” the piece began. “Take a moment. Because, according to a 2011 study, this is the hardest of the 100 possible questions asked on the United States citizenship test.”
That question was “How many Constitutional Amendments are there?” (The answer is 27.) Yeah, that’s pretty difficult. It also isn’t especially meaningful to a citizen; I’m not big on specific dates and numbers: if you know enough to look them up, then you know enough. In other words, a citizen should know that there’s a right to legal representation, a speedy trial, to vote, to assemble, to worship as one pleases, and that a President can be removed from office if he’s physically unable to perform his duties without checking, but whether the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is the 8th or 9th Amendment is essentially a trivial detail.
Not if you’re an immigrant trying to gain the privilege of American citizenship, however. There is nothing at all unfair about requiring new citizens to demonstrate the commitment and dedication necessary to learn about their new nation. Most lawyers couldn’t pass the bar exam now without studying again; it’s the same principle. It would be better if Americans didn’t take their nation and its history for granted, but that’s human nature, and they know that their citizen cannot be taken from them for mere ignorance, even if they don’t know where that guarantee is in the Constitution.
One survey found that 64 percent of American citizens would fail the test…Immigrants taking the exam as part of their citizenship application tend to fare much better. The combined pass rate for the civics exam and an English evaluation performed in the same interview is 91 percent, U.S.C.I.S. reported in December.
Good. One of the privileges of citizenship is to become lazy and ignorant, but we don’t want you here if you start out that way.
Here are the rest of the hardest ten. (I got them all right, as I should have. They are not truly hard, or shouldn’t be.)
2. Which of these is something Benjamin Franklin is known for?
He was the first person to sign the Constitution
He discovered electricity
He was the nation’s first postmaster general
He was the nation’s second president
3. Who was President during World War I?
Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Which statement correctly describes the “rule of law”?
The law is what the president says it is
The people who enforce the laws do not have to follow them
No one is above the law
Judges can rewrite laws they disagree with
5. Under the Constitution, which of these powers does not belong to the federal government?
Ratify amendments to the Constitution
Make treaties with foreign powers
6. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?
7. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?
John G. Roberts Jr.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
William P. Barr
Brett M. Kavanaugh
8. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
9. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Which of these men was not one of the authors?
10. When was the Constitution written?
I won’t give the answers: you should look them up if you don’t know.
#2, however, is unfair and a trick question. Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General, but he is popularly regarded as “discovering electricity.” He didn’t really discover it, but there’s enough important about Ben to be distributed among 20 famous people, and if an immigrant knows that general episode, he or she shouldn’t be penalized. His work eith electricity was a lot more important in the grand scheme of things than being a postmaster general.
The facts: Franklin started exploring the phenomenon of electricity in 1746. He theorized that “vitreous” and “resinous” electricity were not different types of “electrical fluid” (as electricity was though to be then), but the same “fluid” under different pressures. Franklin was the first to label them as positive and negative, and he was the first to discover the principle of conservation of charge. In 1748, he constructed a multiple plate capacitor, that he called an “electrical battery” ( by placing eleven panes of glass between lead plates, suspended with silk cords and connected by wires. Franklin published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm , and on June 15, 1752, Franklin conducted his own kite experiment in Philadelphia, successfully extracting sparks from a cloud. ( Otherswere electrocuted trying to duplicate Franklin’s lightning experiment in the months following Franklin’s “discovery.”
Any immigrants who knows some or all of this about Ben is welcome, as far as I’m concerned.
He also invented the “Austalian crawl.”
Okay, be honest now: