I’ve never gotten into the concept of hate-watching movies you despise, or hate-reading The Family Circus, or having hate sex with someone you loathe. It’s a weird drive to embrace that which repulses you, but the closest I get is when I peruse one of those clickbait articles that features interviews with hardcore Trump supporters.
Why do I do this, when I know, well in advance, that it will do nothing but drive up my blood pressure and further diminish my rapidly evaporating faith in humanity?
For example, in a recent article, Trump fans were interviewed at the site of the president’s infamous North Carolina rally. You know the one — “Send her back! Send her back!” — yeah, that one.
In any case, these lovers of authoritarianism denied that the president was racist (predictably) and insisted that his issues with the Squad were grounded in principle.
Well, there was that one guy who referred to the four progressive congresswomen as “disrespectful wenches.” But hey, nobody asked about misogyny, did they?
One trait of Trump supporters is their embrace of the idea that if a given American has issues with this country, he or she should promptly and immediately get the fuck out. So I am sure that these Trumpian patriots would be the first to demand the deportation of any person who said the following critical statements:
- “The idea of American Greatness, of our country as the leader of the free and unfree world, has vanished.”
- “Other nations and other countries don’t want to hear about American exceptionalism. They’re insulted by it.”
- “Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in Third World condition, and 43 million Americans are on food stamps.”
Why, how dare someone insult our flawless nation with such a pack of hate-filled, anti-American, horrible… what’s that? Those are all statements by Trump himself?
Yes, it might shock those presidential admirers who believe that “You hate the country, you don’t like it, you trash the country—get out of the country! Move on!’”
But the fact is that no one has been more critical of America in the last few years than the guy who insists it’s unpatriotic to be critical of America.
This is a person whose campaign slogan was famously “Make America Great Again,” (which obviously implies that we are no longer great) and whose inauguration address bemoaned “American carnage,” (which remains an awesome name for a punk band).
Trump wrote a book (well, paid a ghostwriter to write a book) called Crippled America. He has sneered that the nation’s leaders are stupid and that the country is a “laughingstock.”
And he equated America’s moral standing with Putin’s Russia, snapping, “You think our country’s so innocent?”
I’m trying to imagine what Fox News would say if AOC uttered that same question.
By the way, for a pack of supposed commies, it’s interesting to note that “no Democrat in Congress has praised the economic performance of communist countries” or said that he had fallen in love with a communist dictator who has often threatened to destroy America.
But Trump has.
In essence,Trump’s supporters believe that a black woman or Latina who points out issues in America “justifies her banishment, but Trump’s similar transgressions justify his presence in the White House.” It’s a tricky balancing act, to be sure, but one that rests on the premise that “under Trumpism, no defense of the volk is a betrayal, even if it undermines the republic, and no attack on the volk’s hegemony can be legitimate, even if it is a defense of democracy.”
And yes, volk in this quote means, “White, straight, conservative Americans.”
So how many Republicans would take their own advice (i.e., never criticize America) when it comes to, for example, gay marriage? After all, if you don’t like the fact that two men can get married in this country, maybe you should just leave.
And for the sake of consistency, I’m positive that every pro-lifer — knowing full well that Roe v. Wade has been American law and a constant in American culture for almost a half century now — never criticizes the decision and is now packing to get the hell out of here.
Hey, love it or leave it.
Still, for a moment, let’s set aside the very large issues of hypocrisy and racial animus. The whole idea that it is treacherous to criticize one’s nation is dubious at best and vile at worst.
It should be common knowledge — but it is not — that Americans don’t pledge allegiance to one person (say, a xenophobic president), nor do we jettison our First Amendment rights and cultural value of freedom of speech simply because it might be too unpleasant for jingoists to hear.
And on a practical level, what nation could possibly thrive, or even survive, if every critique of the country’s political situation were viewed as out of bounds?
I’m trying to imagine this argument in 1776: “Hey, Thomas Jefferson, if you don’t like British rule so much, why don’t you just leave the colonies?”
The United States would still have slavery, women would not be able to vote, and all our children would work in coalmines if we listened to people who said, “Don’t question our greatness, or you are out of here.”
No thank you. It is cowardice, not patriotism, to refuse to examine a nation’s standards.
And to improve one’s country — to inch it closer to its ideals and create a better nation for all its residents — not only should you stay, but you should shout, and you should fight against all the people trying to hold it back.
Featured image: Seth Anderson/Flickr