Workers Vanguard No. 1151
22 March 2019
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Sinister Attack on Citizenship Let Hoda Muthana Return to U.S.!
Sinister Attack on Citizenship
Let Hoda Muthana Return to U.S.!
In an ominous attack on citizenship rights, the Trump administration is refusing entry to a U.S. citizen and her 18-month-old son. Hoda Muthana, who went to Syria in 2014 to join the Islamic State (ISIS), and her son are now stateless and stranded in a refugee camp in that country. Born in New Jersey in 1994 to Yemeni parents, Muthana’s American citizenship has been recognized by the government more than once; she was issued a passport in 2005 and again in 2014. In 2016, the Obama administration revoked her passport and argued that she was not a citizen on the bogus grounds that her father was a foreign diplomat when she was born, a claim now picked up by the Trump administration. In fact, her father lost his job as a diplomat two months before her birth. Hoda Muthana and her child are citizens and must be allowed to come back to the U.S.
Charles Swift, the Muthana family’s lawyer, rightly asserted, “If they can do this to Hoda, they can do it to anyone.” In fact, the government is frontally assaulting birthright citizenship as codified in the Fourteenth Amendment, which issued out of the Civil War that destroyed black chattel slavery. Citizenship is the right to have rights. But under the rubric of the “war on terror,” those rights have been steadily shredded by both Democratic and Republican administrations. While Muslims have been particularly targeted, these attacks are a threat to the rights of the whole population, particularly black people, immigrants, leftists and the working class. The accusation of “terrorism” is a tool of government repression that provides the state with a license to suspend democratic rights, criminalize political activity and ultimately to engage in legalized murder.
In 2011, the Obama administration asserted that a U.S. citizen accused of being a terrorist can be summarily executed, launching drone strikes in Yemen that killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. In 2002, the Bush administration labeled Jose Padilla an “unlawful enemy combatant” and disappeared him in a South Carolina Navy brig for three years with no charges filed against him. As the Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee argued in a 2003 amici curiae (friends of the court) brief on behalf of Padilla, the government’s “anti-terror” laws aim at giving “the Executive unchallengeable authority to strip citizenship from Americans who ‘provide material support’ to an organization which at some time may be deemed ‘terrorist’ by the U.S. government.” Tortured and threatened with execution, Padilla was finally charged with “conspiracy” in 2005 and subjected to a show trial that led to a 21-year sentence.
Hoda Muthana is one of 59 Americans estimated to have joined ISIS at a time when it controlled a swath of territory across Syria and Iraq. Now that ISIS is confined to a scrap of land on the Syria-Iraq border, thousands of its supporters have fled to refugee camps. Leaving Muthana and her son stateless and in the camp could be a death sentence. On March 7, the three-week-old baby of Shamima Begum, a British citizen, died after the British government stripped her of her citizenship.
Some calls for Hoda Muthana’s repatriation, like the one from Democratic Senator Doug Jones, have been made on the grounds that this is the only way to prosecute her. All that has been presented as a basis for prosecuting Muthana is her membership in ISIS and tweets in support of its actions. In short, what Muthana has been accused of so far is no more than political advocacy. This would set another dangerous precedent for attacking leftists, anti-racist activists and anyone else the government wants to silence. As communists, we are in sharp opposition to everything that the bloodthirsty ISIS stands for. But the greatest threat to the working people and oppressed of the world is U.S. imperialism and its far more murderous ruling class.
As we have always stressed, what the U.S. capitalist rulers get away with in attacking the civil liberties and democratic rights of the population will largely depend on the level of social and class struggle in this society. It is in the interest of the working class and all opponents of U.S. imperialism to demand that Hoda Muthana and her son be allowed to come home.