A Response to “If You Hate America So Much, Why Don’t You Leave”

BrytonMellott
A brave and enlightened Bryton Mellott caused an uproar in his Illinois community when he torched a U.S. imperialist flag in his own yard the day before July 4th, an incident for which he was arrested. Accompanying images of the flag-burning on his Facebook was a message explaining, “In this moment, being proud of my country is to ignore the atrocities committed against people of color, people living in poverty, people who identify as women, and against my own queer community on a daily basis… I do not have pride in my country. I am overwhelmingly ashamed, and I will demonstrate my feelings accordingly. #ArrestMe”

After a woman in Staten Island found herself the subject of death threats for wearing a hat declaring “America was never great” and a young man in Illinois was arrested for burning a U.S. flag, the most common refrain coming from the mouths of their detractors is, “If you hate America so much, then why don’t you just leave?!” This seemingly rhetorical question (or is it a demand) is one that is very familiar to anyone who has ever been critical of any aspect of the United States, be it the systemic racism that is an inherent part of the country’s institutions or its aggressive imperialistic foreign policy. This blogger is certainly no stranger to being told to pack his bags and leave as soon as possible for not being sufficiently appreciative of American “freedom” and “democracy.” (To be precise, I was instructed on my About section’s comments by one “tea party patriot” to “go join ISIS and see how long you last til they turn on YOU & behead you.”) And it’s because I and so many others like me who are living within the heart of the beast are so frequently told we ought to get out that I feel it necessary for once to seriously engage those who insist we emigrate simply because we are not beholden to the ideology of U.S. nationalism. This is my first and final rebuttal to this notion. Take it or leave it.

  • First of all, if you’re implying someone should leave the country for being unpatriotic or insufficiently patriotic, are you willing to pick up the expenses necessary for emigration to the country of that person’s choice? Are you willing to pay the travel costs and the room expenses associated with this? After all, not everyone is economically fortunate or stable enough to be able to relocate somewhere within the United States, let alone across the world.
  • There is literally nowhere on the planet earth that is free from U.S. interference and influence. The few countries that do seek an independent course draw the ire of Washington D.C. and are therefore subjected to arm-twisting, coercion and intimidation before they are ultimately sanctioned, invaded, occupied or targeted for regime change. In other words, just because one leaves the territory designated the United States doesn’t mean they are guaranteed safety from U.S. tyranny.
  • Not everyone who’s critical of the United States recognizes the legitimacy of its government in the first place. Some see the U.S. as simply the current occupier of about 1/5 of the entire American continent, a land mass that existed long before the current regime was established or imagined by the “founding fathers” of myth. Therefore the U.S. doesn’t have some sort of naturally ordained right to demand respect for its legitimacy.
  • This leads me to another point. It is never under any circumstances appropriate for these words – “Why don’t you just leave” – to be directed towards an Indigenous person, who had their country stolen from them, or a person of African descent whose ancestors had their very bodies stolen from their homeland in order to build a homeland for someone else. No one has put more work into building the modern-day U.S. than them, and for their back-breaking labor they and their kin have received not a penny’s worth of compensation. The empire that was built by them at the force of a gun and the lash of a whip is more theirs than it is anyone who insists they have no right to criticize it.
  • And finally to the person who implored me to go to Iraq and “join ISIS you ungrateful & twisted idiot”, don’t tell me to go live somewhere the U.S. has actively worked for the past 30 years to make a living hell!

Responding to the much-deserved criticism of the racism, capitalism and imperialism that are intrinsic elements of the United States with, “If you don’t like it, leave” is nothing more than a method of shutting down conversation and deflecting from critical thinking. When one resorts to such tactics, they’re tacitly admitting that they are unable to invalidate what you’ve said.

19 thoughts

  1. You can still love your country and be respectful to the other people who also live in it without burning the flag. Which is actually illegal. If you don’t think the government is legit then go ahead and go commit a crime. They’re not legit, they can’t do anything, right!? Wrong. No matter how horrific the history of this country is, no matter how much you disagree with politics, you can still believe in and love your country. The problem with your line of thinking is that you wish to divide people in this country even further when we should be joining together and trying to solve the problems that come between us. Not only that, there’s two points you made that are just ridiculous. That we should pay for you to relocate. No, we shouldn’t. If you want to go, it’s up to you to come up with or save the money to leave. Just like it’s up to you to earn the money to pay for your food, housing, etc.. I know you won’t think that’s fair but, that’s how it works. Also, you really think that the United States has a say in what goes on in North Korea? Lol! If we did, they wouldn’t be testing weapons. I’m sure Kim Jong Un would be happy to have you. Then you’ll see what it’s really like to have no freedom. People have fought and died so that you have the freedom to even write this ridiculous crap. It’s like spitting on our soldiers graves to burn a flag. The problem with people like you is that you only think about yourself & how things impact you. There’s another 300 million people in this country. A lot of those people’s loved ones have died for this country and for your right to have what you do and say what you want to say. The fact that you can’t comprehend that & complain about how unfair you have it, is why people tell you to leave. You’re being disrespectful to our fallen soldiers.

    1. Please explain to me how murdering millions of people in Vietnam preserved my freedom again? Or in Iraq for that matter. It’s people like you who swallow whatever nationalistic propaganda you’re fed that the war profiteers are raking in a killing (both literally and figuratively). You disrespect the millions who died on the other end of the US empire’s quest for dominance every time you wave that red, white and blue flag. See, it works both ways. The problem is you think only of yourself and forget there are 7.4 billion other people in the world. 😑

  2. Have you ever been to the third world? That’s what people are saying when they say – then just leave. You have it better that just about anyone in any country. Youre in the top 1 percent economically just because you’re an American. If you’ve never been to Africa or ask, to watch those poor people get exploited and struggle daily, then you should count your blessings. So yeah, roll out if you don’t like it here. Quit trying to make it like over there. Nobody wants to live in a crumbled America. I promise. You might think you do. Shit wouldn’t be a good time.

    1. As if those African countries you speak of don’t get exploited by greedy American companies, yet you think it’s inappropriate to criticize the US for all the invasions and harm done to the world. No amount of nonsensical brainwashed thinking on the part of you and other sheep is going to stop people within this country and without from telling the truth about your beloved empire. You say go to Africa. Which part? Somalia, which is being attacked daily by your “freedom-loving” drones, or the DRC which after suffering years under Belgium’s colonial nightmare had a U.S.-backed dictator imposed on them (after the CIA helped assassinate their independent revolutionary leader) and is now being raped and pillaged by U.S. partners Uganda and Rwanda?

  3. “There is literally nowhere on the planet earth that is free from U.S. interference and influence…”
    ~ I’ve come to believe that far too many Americans are unaware of this reality and the role that our US government and our multinational corporations play in destabilizing nations and the lives of their peoples.

    1. Well, it’s not as if we’re exactly educated to know about what our country has been doing in the world. Hell, it took forever for the genocides of the indigenous peoples to even begin to be acknowledged in classrooms. I was still being taught about the ‘Mayflower’ and the mythical ‘Thanksgiving day dinner’ being held between ‘pilgrims and Indians’ when I was in elementary school in the ’90s.

    2. Reporting in from China, where I feel quite free from interference of the USA government. The Chinese Communist Part on the other hand…

      1. China is a country that HAS broken from the yoke of US and Western imperialism and formed its own path since 1949. The US certainly tried to undermine China’s independence when it actively tried to prevent China’s actual government from having a seat of recognition at the UN until the late ’70s! China is one of those countries that have managed to be truly independent. Whether one likes the current government in China or not, I don’t think anyone could argue that it can be pushed around by Washington. However, as much as I hate to say it, I do predict Washington and Beijing will be at war sometime in this century for the simple fact that the U.S. will not accept its not being the sole global superpower gracefully.

  4. I think that sometimes what people are afraid to think when they say “if you hate America so much…”is actually : “I can’t stand the idea that what you said might be true because that would mean that all I’ve stood up in my life was a lie or a mistake. So, yeah, I’m not listening to you, nah na nah naa naaah”

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