Divided loyalties

Today’s impeachment-outrage news is that Fox and some Republicans are trying to discredit the current witness, Lt Col Alexander Vindman, who was on the Ukraine call. He’s the White House expert on Ukraine, and his family emigrated from Ukraine when he was three. An opening! An opening to start up another Birtherism fight. He must be disloyal! He must be Secretly Ukrainian. He must be a Never Trumper.

The Guardian reports:

The Washington Post has uncovered footage of Lt Col Alexander Vindman, whose family emigrated from the Soviet Union when he was a child, appearing alongside his twin brother in Ken Burns’ documentary series America for a segment on the Statue of Liberty.

The segment explores the statue’s power as a symbol to immigrants, like the Vindmans, who have adopted America as their home.

According to a draft of his opening statement, Vindman intended to tell impeachment investigators today: “My family fled the Soviet Union when I was three and a half years old … In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream.

“I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics.”

All of this seems to contradict some conservative commentators’ doubts about Vindman’s loyalty to the United States because he was born in the Soviet Union and has become an expert on Ukraine.

This is just one iteration of a constant theme for us Murkans – the ambivalence between the welcoming refuge and the hostile xenophobic minefield.

On the one hand there’s the country made by immigrants (and by the genocide of the indigenous people), and on the other hand there’s the country that says that’s enough immigrants now, unless they’re very rich and very white.

So we don’t know how to understand people who came here from other countries. Are they grateful and loyal and full of our better ideals? Or are they ungrateful and treacherous and steeped in Alien ideals?

What Vindman will be talking about:

Lt Col Alexander S. Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the national security council, reportedly intends to tell the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry that Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine made him deeply concerned the president was jeopardizing key foreign policy in the hope of triggering an investigation into his political rival, Joe Biden.

Vindman will be the first witness to provide impeachment investigators with a first-hand account of the controversial phone call that kicked off the formal inquiry. According to a draft of his opening statement first obtained by the New York Times, the national security official will tell the House committees this morning: “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government’s support of Ukraine.”

But what’s his identity? Does he identify as loyal? Or does he identify as a secret agent for Ukraine? (But Ukraine is an ally so…?) Truth is slippery.

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