“America, love it or leave it” was a popular bumper sticker back in the late 60s and early 70s. It was allegedly directed toward “angry, left-wing radicals” who claimed that America was wrong to be fighting in Vietnam.
I did not consider myself to be an “angry, left-wing radical,” as I was relatively conservative at the time. But I did strenuously oppose America’s involvement in the Vietnam war, which I thought was wrong, unjust, and was tearing the country I loved apart. So I did participate in a lot of anti-war protests and often heard “America, love it or leave it” shouted at me by those counter protesters who supported Richard Nixon and the war.
The thing is, I did love America and I didn’t want to leave it. But I also felt that those who were shouting “America, love it or leave it” at me were condemning me for being critical of some of my country’s policies. And part of what makes America great and the country I love, is that you are free to voice your criticism without fear of being arrested and incarcerated. I hated to hear anyone tell me, “America, love it or leave it.”
Eventually, after the Vietnam war ended, our country started to heal, to come together. And that phrase, “America, love it or leave it” faded away, like bell-bottom jeans and rose-colored granny glasses.
But thanks to Donald Trump, that same phrase that was often shouted at those of us who protested against the Vietnam war, seems to have resurfaced in a 2019 version of that 60s/70s phrase.
Trump tweeted this past weekend that four minority Congresswomen should go back to the countries from which they came. Then, defending his tweet, he said,
“If you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave.”
In other words, “America, love it or leave it.” So much for healing and coming together, right?
It’s one thing to have a bunch of crew-cut rednecks shout “America love it or leave it” at young, long-haired hippies (like I was) at anti-war protests. But to have the President of the United States telling four U.S. Congresswomen, three of whom were born in the U.S. and one of whom became a naturalized citizen as a child, to go back to where they came from, is unconscionable.
I love America. I have no intention of leaving it. But I will not be silenced when I see migrant men, women, and children seeking asylum in our country being held captive in literal concentration camps at our southern border.
I will not say nothing when the current administration is rolling back environmental protections designed to keep our water and air clean and is giving tax breaks to the fossil fuel polluters.
I will not remain quiet when women, blacks, Hispanics, and non-Christians are being marginalized and discriminated against, when gun violence and mass shootings are everyday occurrences that barely make the news anymore, when the Republicans want to take away healthcare from millions of Americans, and when autocrats and dictators serve as role models for our moron-in-chief, who is also a pathological liar.
None of us should be told that being critical of our government equates to hating our country and that we should just keep our mouths shut or leave. Especially by the same man who, when he was running for President, based his campaign on criticizing almost everything aspect of the country, referring to the American carnage, and claiming that he, alone, could fix it.
And remember to not be confused about what racism is.