Shortly before his three months in Her Majesty's Prison Longport, Canterbury, were due to expire, the British government announced its intention to deport him to the United States. Along with the announcement Thomas received a short form in the mail to be filled out if he wished to contest the destination of his deportation.

Thomas filled in the form, objecting to deportation for the reason that, (1) "the United States is west; when my journey was interrupted I had been traveling east; as a free man I determine in which direction I will travel," and on the grounds that, (2) "I am not an American citizen, and Great Britain has no legal authority to deport people who are not American citizens to the United States."

After his three-month sentence expired Thomas was detained in the same prison an additional three months awaiting a hearing on his immigration appeal.

Finally one morning Thomas was taken to a hearing room in Dover. Three officials from the British Home Office were seated at the opposition table. Thomas was given a written statement in which the British Home Office explained that "it is the normal practice to order an individual's deportation to the country of which he is a national, or which most recently issued him a travel document."

"Good morning, everyone," said Adjudicator Colby, taking the bench. "Mr. Thomas, I believe that you have been provided with a copy of the statement from the Home Office?"

"I have."

"Well then, I think that the government's position is clearly set forth therein, so why don't we just begin with your telling us where you take exception to the position of the Home Office."

"All right. In the first paragraph ...."

"No, no, Mr. Thomas. The first paragraph doesn't have anything to do with our inquiry here."

"But it contains several material inaccuracies."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Thomas. All we are concerned about here is the destination of your deportation."

"I'll go on to the second paragraph ..."

"No, no, the second paragraph has nothing to do with it either."

"In that case, can we at least agree there is a difference between normal practice and the law?"

"Certainly, Mr. Thomas, we would all agree to that."

"And might we also agree that frequently normal practice has been used as an excuse to do illegal and immoral things."

"I don't think anyone would argue with that."

"Then let's go down to the last paragraph, and let me ask you whether it is only, as it says here, 'the normal practice' to deport a person to the country which last issued him a travel document. Because if it is merely the 'normal practice' then there are no legal grounds to deport me to the United States."

"That is the law," Mr. Colby said.

"Just for the record would you read the statute from the book?" asked Thomas, who had read it and knew the statute only provided that a person be "removed to the country of which he is a national."

The Adjudicator checked his law book, closed it slowly, silently, and thought for a minute as he gathered his papers. "If the Secretary of the British Home Office says that you are an American citizen, I see no reason not to deport you to the United States." The Adjudicator snatched up his papers, abruptly left the bench, and headed for the door.

"Wait a minute," Thomas bellowed. "Do you realize what you just said?"

The Adjudicator looked uncertain. "Uh, I think so," he said.

"I doubt it. If the Secretary of the British Home Office can decide what I am then I am not a free man but a slave to the Secretary."

The Adjudicator, not an unsympathetic soul by human standards, looked dumbfounded. After a wordless hesitation, he turned and hurriedly left the room. Immediately after the Adjudicator's exit two police officers escorted Thomas from the room and back to prison.

*** ***

Thomas remained in jail another two months before five British police officials eventually attempted to execute the Adjudicator's decision. Leaving Her Majesty's Prison at Longport, they drove to London. They stopped at the United States embassy on Grosvener Square in London. One policeman ran inside and quickly returned to the car carrying a sealed envelope. They proceeded to Heathrow Airport.

"Have a drink on of Her Majesty's government." one policeman said, tucking a five pound note into Thomas' shirt pocket. Another policeman handed him the blanket he had been carrying when he was arrested in Dover.

A policeman handed the embassy envelope to a steward with instructions that it be delivered to U.S. Immigration officials on the other side of the Atlantic, and bundled Thomas onto a plane bound for New York.

Thomas put his blanket in the overhead luggage rack and walked through the plane to the rear galley area, where a stewardess was preparing the in-flight snacks. Turning the wheel on the emergency exit, he pushed the hatch open.

"Cheerio," he said to the stewardess, who looked at him calmly. He stepped out the door, dropped about twenty feet to the tarmac, and looked back upward to see the stewardess matter- of-factly pull the hatch closed.

Thomas walked toward a terminal building as if he knew where he was going. Once inside he saw a doorway under a sign, "Authorized Personnel Only." He passed through the doorway as if he were supposed to. Walking down a glass-walled walkway, Thomas saw his five police escorts, still standing in front of the plane he had just exited to make sure he didn't get off.

Hurrying on, Thomas made his way to the Underground train, and, out of Her Majesty's five quid, bought a ticket to liberty in Piccadilly Circus.

*** ***

Thomas was beginning to question his sanity more intensely than ever.

He hid out in a squat, occupied by some friends he had met in Hyde Park, on Barnsbury Road in London. For a couple of months he didn't leave the house. Hour after hour, day after day, he pecked away on an antique typewriter, detailing the road which had led to his present situation. He hoped that by reducing his experience to paper, as accurately as possible, he might discover where his thinking had gone awry.

Some months later, on the first anniversary of his statelessness, the London Times carried a front-page story about Jimmy Carter's pique at Margaret Thatcher's refusal to make financial sanctions against Iran retroactive. Thomas went to the U.S. Embassy to request formal recognition of his statelessness. When the consul, one Max Robinson, refused to officially sanction nation less status, Thomas asked, "Is there any law that says I must remain a U.S. citizen?"

"No," Mr. Robinson replied.

"Is there any law saying I can't throw my passport away?"


"Is there any law that would allow you to force me to enter the United States against my will?"

"We can't legally do that." He stressed the word "legally."

"Okay. The British say I'm a U.S. citizen. They want me on U.S. soil. This is U.S. soil, so I'm just going to stay here until you officially declare that I am not a U.S. citizen, at which time I will gladly leave your embassy."

"I can't allow that," Mr. Robinson confided, and called several marine guards, who carried Thomas out of the embassy and held his arms until a couple of London bobbies arrived to take him into custody.

"What are we arresting you for?" one of them asked.

"I've done nothing wrong. Unless you have some reason for arresting me, I would suggest that you release me."

But they radioed headquarters.

"The American Embassy says he's for deportation to the United States," the radio said.

*** ***

"There are some folks down at the Home Office who would really like to know how you got back into the country. They think security is l00% effective," a Home Office man said.

"I'll tell you what. I think your system stinks, and I'm not going to do anything that will make it function any more efficiently."

"I'm very sorry to hear that. You'll probably just have to stay in jail until you tell us."

He did spend some months in solitary confinement at HMP Pentonville. Once a week the prison chaplain made a perfunctory visit to the solitary block. Once the chaplain brought a seminarian along with him. Bob, the seminarian, got a kick out of talking to Thomas, and for a week visited him every day.

"I wanted to do something that would be of service to humanity," Bob explained his entry to the seminary.

"How does this place help humanity?" Thomas asked. "Do you think I've done something that justifies my being here?"

"Not you, but there are others here who need to be here for the sake of society's safety."

"I think you've got it wrong. I'm not the only person who doesn't need to be here for society's welfare. But the fact that I am here proves that the system is doing at least some things that aren't right."

"The system isn't perfect, but it's the best we have."

"That's one way of looking at it. But what if the solution to society's problems is merely a valid set of values?"

"Of course, values are important."

"And society's are largely illusory. First society believes in money. Wouldn't you agree that a society based on a standard of money would be much different from one which holds human life to be the standard by which value is judged?"


"And a society which established truth as the criterion for communication would be much different from one which communicates on a basis of political or commercial expediencies?"

"It's written in the Bible that the truth shall set you free. I suppose it is common knowledge that politicians and salesmen don't always tell the truth."

"Should we assume that God created an imperfect Earth?"


"I agree. It seems as if everything works precisely and in harmony. Rain falls, plants grow, water evaporates, and rain falls."

"The power which holds the stars in place," Bob nodded agreement.

"Right. So the Earth is perfect, but the world is notably imperfect. People are starving to death, not because the Earth does not produce enough food to feed the people but because people cause problems which result in other people starving, not because there isn't food, but because some people don't have the money to buy the food. And there are wars. Not to add to the perfection of the Earth, but aiming to strengthen the interests of the political and economic theories surging within the imaginary lines that ideologies trace on maps."

"I'm not sure I understand you."

"Take 'capitalism,' a system of economic theory controlled by an established political hierarchy the jurisdiction of which is defined by lines superimposed on the face of the Earth. Take 'communism,' a similar situation which is also defined by imaginary lines. So we have imaginary lines which make the United States and imaginary lines which make the Soviet Union, and we have nuclear arsenals produced by both sides for no reason except to protect the sanctity of those imaginary lines."

"So you are saying that there are war and starvation and poverty because human societies are based on illusory values?"

"Exactly. Rather than life-giving spiritual values -- truth, justice, equality, freedom -- humanity has dedicated its societies to life-taking material values: money and vanity."

"And you are suggesting because I am working within society that what I'm doing does not benefit humanity?"

"More than that. I'm suggesting that by working for society you strengthen its false values and actually harm humanity. You say you don't think I belong in jail, but you're paying taxes to make it possible. In order to make enough money to pay your taxes, you're figuring on getting a job that will pay you to come in here and give me spiritual guidence. You say you believe in a God of Love, yet you help support Her Majesty's nuclear arsenal. You say you value life, yet your work helps to construct."

Bob looked pensive. "How do I know that anything is true? How do I know that I'm not imagining everything? How do I know that I'm not just imagining this conversation?"

Enraged, Thomas yelled, "You're wasting my time!!! Get out of here!!!"

Bob looked stunned.

"I don't want to deal with nonsense. Get out!!"

Quickly, Bob jumped to the door and yelled for the turnkey. He didn't say goodbye.

Thomas was miserable. How could he have started screaming like that?

Well, hell, he'd spent many hours in discussion with Bob ... practicing reason and logic. Now he lays out -- what seems to him, anyway -- a perfectly logical premise, and Bob comes up with some kind of "If a Tree Falls in the Woods" kind of argument. Gross intellectual dishonesty! A waste of time!

But, Thomas is professing peace, and he wasn't very peaceful.

"Gimme a break. How can you be peaceful around nonsense?" Thomas argued with himself. "I'm seriously trying to make some sense out of life; this guy's getting paid to coach people on the sense of life; and all he can say is: 'Prove that I'm not imagining you'."

"Maybe Bob saw your ideas as a threat to his way of life. Remember, he has a wife and children." Thomas reasoned with himself.

"Yeah, but this character says he believes in God. If there's a God, and Bob is imagining Reality then Bob's God." Thomas argued.

"Bob might honestly believe in God, but he probably has some doubts. Nothing wrong with being skeptical, is there?"

"I guess not." Doubting Thomas grudgingly admitted.

"If you were really trying to be logical ... if you really cared about Bob ... if Bob's question to you is: 'Prove to me that there's a God,' then, logically, wouldn't you try to articulate the requested proof?"

"Yeah, right ... I'll just articulate a logical proof that he's not imagining me."

"Why not?"

"He'll just tell me he's imagining it."

"If you can make him think, maybe his faith will be strengthened. If you cared about him, wouldn't that be a good thing to do?"

"Well I've already got a lot of time invested in this. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try."

Thomas thought that syllogisms would be the way to go.

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