Sunday, December 6, 2009

WSJ: United States grants independence to American Samoa

Fresh off their exclusive scoop that Washington had handed over control of Saipan to South Korea, the Wall Street Journal informs us that American Samoa is "foreign" territory.

This bit of news comes in an article highlighting the NFL's Haitian-born players, which was accompanied by a photo essay of the "NFL Imports." This piece, entitled "NFL Foreign-Born Players," provided "a look at some of the top foreign-born players plying their trade in the league today."

It started with Hines Ward, noting the following:
Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XL. He was born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up in Georgia, and is known for his charity work with mixed-race children in his native country.
That almost has Mr Ward sounding like a foreign national, but the truth is that he has over the past few years made the ROK a home away from home, helping kids "back home" in Korea who haven't been as lucky as he.

Where the article really gets funky is when it talks about Isaac Sopoaga:

Mr Sopoaga is from American Samoa, not next-door Samoa (the latter of which is in fact an independent country). While it's true that people born in American Samoa are American nationals and not full-fledged American citizens, their birthplace is still a territory of the United States of America (i.e., not a foreign land).

This should be obvious to anyone who pays attention to the news, which I assumed would include, say, people who work at the Wall Street Journal. For starters, there was the tsunami in September that killed dozens, prompting considerable Federal support. Furthermore, many American Samoans proudly serve in the US armed forces, and at least twelve have been killed fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

American Samoa has a non-voting congressman in the House of Representatives, currently Democrat Eni Faleomavaega, who serves as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment. Not exactly something a "foreigner" would be doing.

I wish I could come up with some cleverly amusing spin on this, some snarky comment to tie it all together, but I'm really beginning to just look at the geography-impaired folks at the WSJ and just think, geez, this is embarrassing.


  1. Just goes to show that we aren't really an empire, if we can't keep up with all the li'l islets we own.

  2. I have a Samoan in my unit that is our orderly room clerk. I have served with many Samoans in the military who have a long history of service to the US.

  3. GI Korea, there are a lot of Samoans here in Hawaii, as you are may be well aware from your trips here. The various universities here — Brigham Young and the University of Hawaii in particular — attract promising students and athletes from various American islands and those that were once part of the Trust Territories of the Pacific and are now in some sort of independent-but-associated-with-the-US status.

    Samoans, of course, are one of the bigger groups in Hawaii, and they have a growing presence in part of Southern California. In classes I've TAed, there have been some; good, friendly people. I've never had a chance to talk with any of them about their "patriotism" toward the US, but I never got the impression any of them were any less proud to be an American than any Mainlander or Hawaii resident.

  4. The Sanity Inspector, good point. Sometimes we don't pay attention to some of our island territories until they get attacked by someone.

    But even then, I'm still not sure. I'll bet most Americans don't know that part of Alaska's Aleutian Islands were occupied by Japanese forces for a year during WWII.

  5. What's the point of having non-citizen nationals? And what's the difference if they travel on US passports?


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