Love it or Leave It?
By Steve Gillman
Most of us have seen the bumper stickers which say, "America
- Love It Or Leave It." Polite people won't express it that
bluntly, but many of them share the belief or feeling. People
think that if a person doesn't like the American system, they
have no right to be in the country.
This is an ignorant and hateful thought! Consider for a moment
a man who doesn't like the system in any country on Earth. Perhaps
if it were up to him, he would like to see a purer socialism,
or a country based on his wacky religion, or perhaps a country
that truly respects freedom (there's an idea). Now, does this
mean he has no right to live in any country (and what other choice
does he have)?
When a person says "love it or leave it," it is
like saying "if you don't agree with the our system, we
want to punish you and take away your liberty." Such feelings
often stem from the belief that rights come with citizenship,
and in this case only with "good" citizenship as defined
by the owner of the bumper sticker. Now, where did they get that
idea of rights?
Not in the constitution or writing of that time. The founders
of the United States didn't for one second think that a person
had to "buy" rights by agreeing with government or
society. Clearly and repeatedly they said that we are "created
equal," with certain "unalienable rights," and
that "among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
They also never suggested that such rights were limited to
citizens only. Rights, as they defined them, were inherent in
the nature of all humans (although it is true that they applied
this idea inconsistently). The idea of individual rights upon
which this country was founded was certainly not that rights
are "gifts" from government or society.
It is pure ignorance of that leads people to think that "bad"
citizens in America have no right to life. And by the way, the
bumper sticker is really saying just this, that the non-lover
of America has no right to be alive and free. Consider again
the man who disagrees with all political systems on Earth, and
loves no country. If such a man has no right to be here because
of his sentiment, he has no right to be in any country, and what
else can this mean except that he has no right to life or liberty
Love it or not, it's no crime to point out the flaws in a
country. It's also no crime to protest or to believe in things
that others do not agree with. It's not even a crime to be unpatriotic.
Instead of "America - love it or leave it," how
about, "America - where you can feel how you want about
it and say what you like, and have your right to do so protected
by law." This may not make a great bumper sticker, but it
is a better idea, isn't it?