Zap2it: Is it true the ‘Join or Die’ tattoo on your forearm was meant as an expression of your patriotism when you became a U.S. citizen?
Craig Ferguson: Absolutely. Tattoos, and I’ve got a bunch of them, they’re the end result, they’re kind of like a scar. Like I go through a process and I end it [claps hands] with a tattoo. Like, my children are born, I get a tattoo. I get married, I get a tattoo. It wasn’t in that order, by the way. You know, my father died, I got a tattoo. My mother died, I got a tattoo. So there is a process which I had gone through in order to get it. So this one fit with what we were talking about. It had a personal historical significance and an actual historical significance. So it seemed like a good name and a good visual, arresting image and kind of a rallying cry for the show.
Zap2it: Did the process of citizenship change your view of this country?
Not during the process as such. I think as I became an American — and as not only officially I became an American but emotionally and I guess just by my children are American and my wife is American — that the horizon expands a little bit. An example being … [philosopher and activist] Cornell West saying, ‘Black people have never had the luxury of believing in American innocence,’ which to me is such a massive amount of information for a white Northern European immigrant that it really must not be ignored.
So it doesn’t make me less patriotic but it makes me curious because the story of America is just like the story of anybody you look at in the world or any country is much more complicated than it would first appear.