The Tsarnaev brothers are emblematic of the divided loyalties of our times—and they are not the only ones. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani national, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who lived the American dream: He arrived on a student visa, married an American citizen, graduated from college, worked his way up the corporate ladder to become a junior financial analyst for a cosmetics company in Connecticut, became a naturalized citizen at the age of 30 and then, a year later, in 2010, tried to blow up as many of his fellow citizens as possible in a failed car bombing in New York's Times Square.Prior to sentencing, the judge asked Mr. Shahzad about the oath of allegiance he had taken, in which he did "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen." The defendant replied: "I sweared [sic], but I didn't mean it." He then expressed his regret about the failure of his plot and added that he would gladly have sacrificed a thousand lives in the service of Allah. He concluded by predicting the downfall of his new homeland... The naturalized citizen swears to "support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…bear true faith and allegiance to the same…[and] bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law." Naturalized citizens tie their own destiny to the destiny of this society, not their former one, for better or worse. So the potential bomber takes an oath to defend the Constitution and the U.S. against all enemies, while committed in his heart to a radically different political order.
The challenge that this would-be bomber poses for us is not to change our foreign policy or improve economic conditions in the Muslim world. We already do that. The challenge is to uncover the deceit of such phony citizens..."I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion: so help me God." Those closing words of the Oath of Allegiance are now etched indelibly in my memory. But as I said them, I thought of the Tsarnaev brothers, whose mental reservations about America grew to the point that they were prepared to sow murder and mayhem.Immigration reform that does not make it harder for such people to settle in the U.S. would be, to say the least, very incomplete.