America: Love It and Stay And Fight For It
In online dog fights it is excessively, even irritatingly common for laptop Patriots to respond to criticisms of our nation and its deplorable leaders with a variation on, “If you’re so damn unhappy with our country or our President, why don’t you just leave?”
That sentiment predates the internet of course. When I was a kid, I remember seeing bumper stickers and tee-shirts with the not at all insecure and defensive slogan of, “America, love it or leave it” as if those are the only two options available to Americans, and also wholly incompatible.
Let me start off by saying that “America, love it or leave it” is an insult and a taunt rather than a legitimate argument. It’s not an argument at all, let alone a good-faith argument.
That is particularly true when employed by anonymous white racists empowered by the rise of Donald Trump to castigate African-American athletes for having the audacity to protest racism and police brutality even though they make millions of dollars playing a game.
In that instance, “America: love it or leave it” is a slightly cleaned up, euphemistic, marginally less racist way of saying, “Go back to Africa.” Nothing enrages white racists quite like the idea that black men and women who have more them in terms of money and social capital being insufficiently grateful for what they see as the white man’s boundless generosity in gifting millions of dollars to the black athletes they employ as a purely philanthropic endeavor and not because, as you might imagine, the free market angrily demands that these men be paid what is ultimately a fair wage for their particular industry.
For the time being at least we do not have a dictatorship where the party in power enjoys absolute authority and everyone else must capitulate to their every whim. No, we have a deeply flawed two-party system where competing parties must work together and collaborate for the sake of all of us, not just people who voted for the man elected President.
I’m going to say this as clearly and plainly as possible. Hell, I’m even going to bold it so that nobody misses the core of my argument. If you’re not happy with the direction the country is headed, or our leaders, then for the love of God stay and fight for your vision of American democracy.
If you love something deeply and you see it being abused and mistreated, whether it’s an ex-girlfriend or your country, the ethical and honorable thing to do is to work as feverishly as possible to end that abuse and mistreatment. If you love our nation and are mortified by what’s happening to it, then it is your goddamn patriotic duty as an American to stay and fight.
As a practical matter, being able to leave your country because you’re unhappy with the direction it’s headed is an enormous luxury available to very few. It takes a fuck-ton of money to move your family from your country of origin to one with theoretically less problematic leaders. Very few people can afford that kind of a massive move for a number of different reasons. There’s the enormous financial price, of course, but also the emotional and social cost of saying goodbye to loved ones and elderly mothers and fathers or young relatives. If you love your country, and your hometown and your family, then you’re going to want to stick around, no matter how angry you are at Trump and his minions.
Christ, I’ve had no luck getting a job in a country where I’ve lived all my life. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to move to Spain (a lovely country with many wonderful qualities, incidentally) and try to restart my career there.
No, if you truly love the real America and not the grotesque caricature cynically and disingenuously promoted by Trump and his red, white and blue-flecked ghouls, you can’t leave it, and you really wouldn’t want to, no matter how bad things get or how angry or disillusioned you become.
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