America: Love it or leave it!
We’ve all heard this phrase before, mostly from conservatives, especially far-right conservatives. It goes back longer than I’ve been alive, allegedly back to the McCarthy era, which kind of makes sense. Basically, we’re the best country that has ever graced the face of the earth. All we do is wise and just. America is so great, so unerring and so noble, so giving and benevolent, that you should feel honored to be here at all. No other nation allows for the vast freedoms and choices and options that we do. No other nation provides such limitless opportunity. In short, how dare you criticize the nation that has given you so much!!!
Sounds so patriotic, doesn’t it? America… love it… appreciate it… revere it… unquestioningly… or get the hell out!
Problem is, this mindset is the absolute antithesis of freedom and patriotism. Those with the “love it or leave it” mentality want to celebrate this unbridled American enthusiasm by… abandoning American values, by shutting down anyone who dares criticize or complain. These people would be happy in an authoritarian society where dissent is verboten. This mindset is about as un-American as one can possibly get. You don’t emphasize freedom by trying to suppress freedom.
And since when is marching in mental and emotional lock step good for a society? I can think of several examples in history where suppressed speech and groupthink did not serve the populace well. One of the benchmarks of a free and wise society is precisely the free exchange of ideas, the re-thinking of concepts that aren’t working, the questioning of the status quo. Wanting to improve things that need fixing is the responsible thing to do.
The next time you hear someone chastise another person for not being sufficiently patriotic, just know which one isn’t truly being the patriot… and it’s not the person complaining.