Originally published at The Daily Wire.
If becoming an American citizen was a one-in, one-out proposition, I’d be vying for the spot that Mr. Billie Joe Armstrong plans to vacate.
In a London stadium on Friday, June 24, the lead singer of popular punk rock band Green Day revealed his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade. “F*** America,” he told the crowd. “There’s too much f***ing stupid in the world to go back to that miserable f***ing excuse for a country.”
At a concert in Huddersfield the next day, he continued to insult his homeland, saying “f*** the Supreme Court of America” and calling the High Court justices “pricks.” Although it seems like a knee-jerk reaction, Armstrong’s contention with the American way of life has been brewing for decades. In contrast, over the last 20 years, I have discovered the reasons why I choose to be fully committed to America. Here’s why I want what Armstrong is so eager to give away.
I immigrated from Scotland to the United States with my family in 1990, a few months after Green Day released their first album. My Scottishness defined me during my first decade in America. I talked funny. I wasn’t used to the heat or the mosquitos. And although I made many friends in sunny South Texas, there were some who told me to go back where I came from. For four years, my mother and father worked tirelessly to secure our green cards. When we were finally granted permanent residency, it was a major family milestone. In 1995, as Green Day released their second major studio album, Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” transformed me into a full-fledged ambassador for Scotland. For three years, I hosted a weekly Scottish radio program with my father that aired on public radio in Texas and elsewhere. If you had asked me which country was the best country in the world, my answer would have been Scotland, hands down.
After moving to the Seattle area in 2001, my second decade in America saw me finish college, begin teaching, and start a family. I began to embrace American history and culture even as I continued to promote Scotland. Meanwhile, Green Day saw major success with 2004’s “American Idiot” and 2009’s “21st Century Breakdown.” While Armstrong rocked the mic and warned against “one nation controlled by the media,” I faced over a hundred middle schoolers who were present in my classes every day. I learned about as much from those young Americans as I taught them. The more I worked with the next generation, the more I understood the value of American freedom. In 2011, I started working for an influential think tank dedicated to a culture of purpose, creativity, and innovation. From a wide variety of thinkers and scholars, I learned what America’s founders took great pains to create in 1787 and why it was so different than anything else in the world. I learned about the inherent value in every human and that the government was established to protect our God-given rights. America was moving up on my list of great nations, but Scotland was still at the top.
Then came 2020.
As the U.S. wrestled with the effects of a global pandemic, racial tensions peaked in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Statues toppled, historical figures were canceled, America’s beginnings were reimagined, and freedom of speech came under full-frontal attack. That year, I was finally ready to admit that America was the best country in the world. When I saw the country so disparaged and mistreated I began to more fully appreciate what sets it apart and what makes it worth defending. Recently, I resolved to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, not just to honor the hard work of my parents, but to have a full voice and a precious vote too.
Armstrong is a fifth-generation American. His great-great-grandparents immigrated from Italy to Boston and later to Berkeley. In 2018, Armstrong traveled to the ancestral home of his Italian forebears and was given an honorary citizenship by the mayor of the town of Viggiano. He clearly values his family connection to Italy. So why is he so quick to publicly vilify the nation in which his descendants chose to settle? The nation that incubated his success as a musician? The nation that gives him the freedom to criticize and ridicule his country? A lack of gratitude is evident.
In reality, I don’t need to take Armstrong’s place as a citizen. There’s room in America for anyone who is willing to love this country and respect the values on which it was built. While Billie Joe may be busy decrying America this July 4th, I’ll be busy thanking God for the opportunity to build a life here. I have learned the value of America, and soon, I’ll be joining the ranks of American citizens who are fighting to protect it.