A Belgian Academic in America: American Citizenship= “Show Me The Money”?

by Paul Belien: 
Party Banned In Belgium

Bart Geerts
is a compatriot of mine. He is a Belgian, a Fleming to
be more precise, who has been living in the U.S. for 18
years. Mr. Geerts is a

professor at the University of Wyoming
and lives in

I envy him
for that. I was in

this summer, visiting a friend, and I liked
the place. I liked Wyoming.

I went there
in the footsteps of another Fleming, Father

Peter-John De Smet
, a.k.a. “Blackrobe,”
who was a missionary amongst the Indians of the Rocky
Mountains in the 19th century and was the
first Roman Catholic priest to say

Mass in Wyoming.

This happened
during the great

Rendezvous of the mountain men
at the Green River,

present-day Pinedale,
in 1840.

Kit Carson
was there. He wrote in his diary about
“old Father de Smitt,”
whom, he said, “never
feared danger when duty required his presence among the

At that time,
Father De Smet, who had left

in 1821 had already become an
swearing the

oath of allegiance
to the great nation which he had
come to love.

I was proud
to discover this nation has not forgotten him. When
looking in the (large) bookstore of the

Buffalo Bill Historical Center i
n Cody for a book
about De Smet, I asked the shop assistant whether she
had ever heard of him. “Oh yes,” she said,
“everybody in Wyoming knows

Father De Smet

Sadly, Mr.
Geerts does not like America. On November 8, he wrote an
op-ed piece in

De Standaard,

the leading Flemish intellectual newspaper, saying that
America makes him “shiver.” [Texas
zet de trend
pay archive, in Flemish]

shivering is the result of

George W. Bush`s reelection
. Last Wednesday, he
writes, “was a day of mourning at the

University of Wyoming
and all university campuses in
the U.S.”

It is
obviously hard for Professor Geerts to live in a

where Bush won a higher percentage than
anywhere else but


The professor
is saddened by the elections because the result proves
that the U.S. is changing “from a

country where

Blacks and Whites



were neighbors and had

freedom of speech
into “an ever more
conservative and narrow-minded country.”

The elections
showed, he laments, that moral
values were decisive

“This makes
us shiver,”

he continues. “By `us` I mean the people who have

travelled abroad
. People who are a bit more

. People who have expatriates among their
friends. People who care a great deal about nature,
justice and other ideas.”

To these

, Prof. Geerts opposes the nincompoops
“whose social life is centered

around the church
He writes that the
reelection of Dubya “is a tragedy for America and the
and writes that

“…for many of
my friends

emigrating to Canada
has become an option. This is
certainly the case for people who were not born in
America, people with a broader perspective, people who
had hoped to contribute to the frontier of




“The flight
of America`s creativity, the narrow-mindedness of the
new majority, the over-confidence of the Bush
administration: these are the beginning of the end for
America as a world leader.”

Is Bart
Geerts talking of himself when he refers to
intellectuals willing to flee America?

Earlier this year, my wife, who is a member of the
Belgian House of Representatives, received an e-mail
from Professor Geerts [send him

asked her and her legislative colleagues to change
Belgium`s nationality rules.

Geerts wrote that, in the U.S., he needed to be an
American citizen in order to qualify for government
subsidies for some of his

scientific projects
. But a Belgian who becomes a
foreign national loses his Belgian nationality. So could
the Belgian legislators please change the law—so that
Mr. Geerts could have

dual nationality

Geerts explained that he would rather remain a Belgian,
but he wished to become an American, too, in order to
apply for American subsidies.

The Belgian
law, he complained, discriminated him because his
American colleagues could get U.S. government funding,
while he could not.

So far,
Belgium has not changed its nationality law. I hope it
does not.

Dual nationality is a contradiction in terms
. It is
divided loyalty, which is no loyalty at all. People
cannot be loyal to two countries. Can you imagine Prof.
Geerts taking the

oath of allegiance
to the U.S., while the only thing
really on his mind is: Give me the money?

Today, the
cities of

, as well as the U.S., are being inundated

who want to become citizens of our
various welfare states for exactly the same reason:
Give us the money

They do not
share our values and loyalties; they want our
social handouts
and our

. They say they “hope to contribute to the
frontier of enterprise,”
but their words are mere

Unlike Father
De Smet, two centuries ago, they do not want to

share the “dangers”
of their new homeland
“when duty requires them to.”

Let them all leave for

—if it wants them.

Belien [
him] is a Flemish historian and journalist. His wife,

Alexandra Colen
is a member of the Belgian House of Representatives for
the Vlaams Blok