* Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times had this to say in today’s column….
A few weekends ago, I was flown to the old Virginia House of Burgesses in Williamsburg to be a representative in a kind of assembly. McNeil/Lehrer Productions had chosen 47 people from around the country as part of a program on America in the 21st century. Each of us arrived with the thought, “Why me?” […]
The McNeil/Lehrer folks divided us into four groups to debate resolutions. They further divided us into twos to write the resolutions. My co-conspirator and I were assigned to write a definition of citizenship. In five minutes we came up with this:
Citizenship means to take responsibility for ourselves and our families so that we are not an unnecessary burden on others; to keep abreast of public questions, participate in public deliberations, to speak out when necessary and serve our country in time of need; to live exemplary lives and pass on our values and wisdom to the next generation.
That would be bland enough for unanimity, I thought. But I was wrong. I have read the italicized statement to several folks and asked them to pinpoint the offending clause. So far, none of the conservatives has been able to find it. Liberals see it right away. I think of it as a kind of litmus test.
The offending phrase is, “an unnecessary burden on others.”
That grated on the ear of Lisa Madigan, the Illinois [Attorney General]. It put an unfair onus on the acceptance of help. She moved that the words be taken out.
Question: How would you define “citizenship”?