Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What’s in a name? A President’s name?

I’m reading Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography titled “Hitch-22” and I’m on a chapter where Christopher receives a chance to travel to America on a Coolidge Atlantic Crossing scholarship offered by Balliol College. In the following pages he describes the contrast that he experiences between British and American society; the latter seeming  paradoxically authoritative and liberal at once while the former seemingly silencing the people from exposing information that could shame the British government. He elaborates his admiration of the protection of the First Amendment of the United States constitution.

It took me a space of time to assimilate this simple Jeffersonian point, if only because I had been raised in a culture where the law governing free speech and free assembly was whatever the nearest policeman happened to say it was.  Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22.

In his later years Hitchens would become a citizen of the USA.

So out of sheer curiosity of what kind of questions they would pose to a test taker on the naturalization exam, I went online to the US. Citizenship and Immigration services and loaded the pdf file with the 100 civics questions. A test taker had to answer only 6 out of 10 questions correctly in order to pass and the test had listed several “acceptable” answers where there could more than one distinct way of answering.

Of course you had to be a permanent resident first and there were some questions that required you to name the capitol of the state you lived in and to name the senator and representative of your state.

Of the remaining 95 questions, I got 91 correct! Could it be possibly be this easy?

(In any case I thank Rachel Maddow for educating me on basic American civics. Go liberal media!)

Here’s something I found that is quite interesting. But first a quote off the civics test to put the remaining part of the post into perspective (Italics my own).

“Although USCIS is aware that there may be additional correct answers to the 100 civics questions, applicants are encouraged to respond to the civics questions using the answers provided below.

Question number 29 asks

What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?

The “encouraged” options are

   ▪  Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
   ▪  Joe Biden
   ▪  Biden

The full name of Biden is one of the answers. Now let’s look at question 28.

What is the name of the President of the United States now?

▪  Barack Obama
▪  Obama

Note that the President’s full name: Barack Hussein Obama II is not among the “encouraged” answers. Somebody allergic to that middle name perhaps?




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