Patriotism and Gospel beasts

Just a belated note on American Independence Day, which of course was on July 4th. I spent the day in Boston which some friends, one of whom was studying for his citizenship exam. I looked through the preparatory materials and became fixated upon the Oath once must take before earning citizenship in the United States (if not running for Bergen County Freeholder):

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I 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;

that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law;

that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law;

and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

This is serious stuff, especially the part about renouncing past allegiances. While I think immigration hawk Tom Tancredo goes overboard when he describes his vision of legal immigration, he is absolutely right to insist upon cutting political ties to one's country of origin. (Don't expect this administration to say much about that though - how would they determine America's foreign policy if not for the sleazy double-agents that hang around Liz Cheney?) (continued...)

Illegal immigration aside, we have a problem with legal immigration too. Most treasure their adopted country and express their profound appreciation for the opportunities afforded them here in the US, but I find it troubling how many naturalized American citizens I have met whose behavior clearly does not reflect the Oath that they took. Some treat a US passport like a contingency credit card, and I find it disgusting.

Anyway, while watching the fireworks and the Boston Pops concert on TV, my friend read through some of the questions that might appear on the citizenship exam. When he got to one which asked "what is the most important right given to US citizens?" the 1st Amendment initially passed through my mind. But then I realized, since we live in a republic, we choose our leaders to make the laws that govern us - so the right to select those leaders is a pre-cursor to any others that may be derived from our choice to elect them.

On a separate topic, there was interesting discussion about the difference between a jahash (جحش) and a hamar (حمار). Both, it seems, are words for donkey or ass - and clutch insults, I might add. Then there is a mule (بغل) - offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, and a hinney (نغل)- offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. I speculated that perhaps the Arabic names جحش and حمار are now synonymous, but once each related to a different breed. Wikipedia says:

"By 1800 B.C., the ass had reached the Middle East where the trading city of Damascus was referred to as the 'City of Asses' in cuneiform texts. Syria produced at least three breeds of donkeys, including a saddle breed with a graceful, easy gait. These were favored by women...

The Syrian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus hemippus) was a wild ass found in the mountains and desert/steppe of Syria. The last one died at Schönbrunn Zoo, 1928."

Of course, the most easily-cited historical text of reference is always the Bible. In John 12:14, the beast that carries Jesus into Jerusalem is called جحش أتان. And in Matthew 21:5, it is أتان وجحش إبن أتان. The female donkey is called أتان, so does this mean that جحش is a baby donkey? But in the Old Testament, the animal is repeatedly called חמור in Hebrew, which of course is nearly identical to حمار. In the Koran, جحش does not appear, nor does أتان, but حمار appears twice - in Sura 2:259 and Sura 62:5.

If anyone can shed any light on this, please feel free to comment!

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