The Rights and Duties of French Citizenship

After the terrorist attack in Paris, French President Francois Hollande proposed to rescind French citizenship from anyone of dual citizenship convicted of terrorist acts against the country. Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira resigned in protest and published a book against the proposal. Dalrymple finds in her arguments another example of the distortion of thought and language caused by the continual resort to claims of rights.

Once some legal benefit, privilege, or concession is elevated to the status of a right, it becomes, as a matter of psychological fact, invested with a metaphysically inviolable quality, immune to all other considerations. As rights grow in number and spread like ink through blotting paper, thought and feeling are coarsened, until outbursts such as these can be mistaken for argument.

Everyone can see that it is desirable to consider a limited number of rights—such as that to a fair trial, and freedom of opinion—as natural and therefore inviolable, irrespective of any abstract philosophical justification for doing so. But as the notion of rights comes to dominate moral reflection more and more, so many people find it difficult to make important distinctions, one of which is surely between a man with dual nationality and a man with dual nationality who commits atrocities against one of the two nations to which he owes allegiance.

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