Love it or leave it is a phrase being thrown out lately. Recently, it’s been applied to four members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are women of color. Three of them were born in the U.S. and one is a naturalized citizen. They are being criticized for criticizing actions by our government. Should they be forced to leave or be silent about their gripes?
What does it mean to really love something like a country? Thomas Aquinas says that to love is “to will the good of the other.” It means we want and expect the best for them. This seems a reasonable standard for a country also.
So what is ‘good’ for our country? Most of that is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence – equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in the Constitution, the bill of rights and amendments – freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, the right to vote, due process, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance. When someone criticizes the government because these values are not being afforded to it citizens, then aren’t they working for the good of the country? In fact, the Declaration of Independence includes, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.” This certainly includes voting for new government but it also means that we have a right to speak out when the government is unjust.
But here’s the rub… does this only apply for citizens of the party in power? To people who like the president? To white citizens? To those born in the US?
Thomas also wrote, “we must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.” People with differing opinions shouldn’t be ‘sent back’, they should be embraced as giving us another perspective that we might not be able to see.
I love my country. So when I see that we are not living up to the best we can be, it’s required that I speak out. To criticize someone who also wants what’s best for the country is to disrespect what we are all about. To chant ‘ Send her back’ is un-American.