In the latest fallout left over from the political upheaval and bipartisanship days of George W Bush, Superman, that Marvel icon of Americanism has announced his intention to renounce his US citizenship. However, it is still unclear whether or not Clark Kent will keep his US Passport. “The word’s too small, too connected” said the S-man in a recent interview, and then went on to announce his intention. ” I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy” lamented the Man of Steel. Of course, it is only an intention, a threat, perhaps to drum up media attention for a career fading faster than a speeding bullet. It has been used plenty of times before in the past, by people like Jane Fonda, Ezra Pound, Paul Robeson and Madonna, none of whom actually followed through on the threat, but all of whom gained media spotlight by making the claim.
But can Superman even renounce his US citizenship? He was not born in the US (much like some people still believe about Obama) but he did live in Kansas (as did Obama) since he was a baby. He grew up in Smallville, a quaint little farming town which has now been eaten up by Wichita as the metropolis spreads further and further afield. His place of residence listed on his driver’s licence is San Francisco, though many doubt that he spends much time there. It’s no secret the he has a luxury flat in Metropolis, but ever since getting caught out with lingerie model Karolina Kurkova and subsequently splitting with Lois Lane, he almost never spends more than a weekend there each month. He keeps luxury flats in Caracas, Bahamas, France and has a villa in the south of Spain. It’s not like he spends much time in America anymore.
According to the state department, a person wishing to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:
- appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer,
- in a foreign country (normally at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and
- sign an oath of renunciation
Renunciations that do not meet the conditions described above have no legal effect. Because of the provisions of section 349(a)(5), Americans cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States. In fact, U.S. courts have held certain attempts to renounce U.S. citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds.
“A variety of grounds” could mean anything. Maybe they don’t like your tunic. Maybe they think it’s uncool to wear your underwear over your trousers. Maybe they just won’t let you.
But what’s behind this radical decision? Is it really that he is tired of being seen as a US puppet? Could it perhaps be a taxation issue? Probably not. In 2008 Congress passed a law that will stop your capital – or at least a good portion of it – at the border, should you decide not to be a U.S. citizen anymore. And it is believed that Superman amassed one hell of a lot of savings from rewards, bounties, mall and super-hero convention appearances plus movie, T.V. and comic book royalties. It is estimated that his corporate sponsorship deals alone are worth 1 billion dollars. Besides, trying to keep Superman from taking his cash anywhere would be kind of stupid and probably ineffective. Who would stop him and how? Most of the money would be in offshore accounts anyway.
But the NSA and CIA are taking the threat very seriously. In recent weeks, he has been spotted in Tehran, Beijing, Pyongyang and Kinshasa. And this, mind you, was not doing super hero work but hanging out at student protests or political gatherings. It is no secret that the FSB (the new name for the Soviet KGB) , Mossad and the SASS (South Africa) have all been vying for his attentions as of late. It is rumored that the NSA is secretly working with NASA to obtain enough kryptonite to make a dirty bomb. “It is just in case the scoundrel decides to ditch us” said a Pentagon source who declined to go on the record officially . Imagine what a coup it would be to have superman become an Israeli or an agent for Vladimir Puten. But there is a lot of talk in super-hero circuits, that he simply wants to live in Australia near the beach, maybe Bondi or Gold Coast. However after a stint in Villawood detention center and then just flying away when getting bored, the Australians are somewhat uneasy about him living there.
But what does this all mean for America? In a nation which has been split wide open by years of political bickering, backbiting and bipartisan policy, will the Superman issue unite them once again? Hardly likely. In an AP opinion poll asking how people felt about him giving up his US citizenship, taken shortly after Mr Supers announcement, the nation was spilt exactly 50-50, with Red states overwhelmingly saying the “traitor” should “just go away” and blue states hoping he would stay. The results were not much different from the last few presidential elections. “We don’t need that yellow-bellied foreigner here” said San Antonio Aviation worker Travis Crane “He couldn’t even get Osama”. From Idaho to South Carolina, Republicans overwhelmingly have had enough of Superman’s antics. But on the streets of New York, Chicago and L.A., the feeling is that the US, and in particular the Obama Administration, should do more to keep Superman from leaving the US. “We supported him even when his movies sucked” said one Manhattan resident. “He owes us, we took him in when no one else wanted alien babies from other planets” said Kensal Washington from Cupertino, California.
Whatever the outcome may be, there is no doubt that there will be a lot of countries bidding for his attention as well as loads of speculation as to the outcome (British bookmakers set the odds at 12:1 that he will become British.) No matter what the final choice will be, I am sure he will make the right one. It might just be strange though, to hear people say “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s fövqəlbəşər.
JUNE 25, 2011 Update : The Man of Steel has been spotted living in the Giant Crystal Caves in Mexico – it reminds him of his old Fortress of Solitude.
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