“Go back to your country”

Today, President #Trump said on the Twitter that “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came…”

The Congresswomen in question are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (#AOC), #RashidaTlaib, #AyannaPressley, and #IlhanOmar, all of whom are not white. Herein lies the problem that all non-whites face when they criticize US foreign policy–that if we don’t like a policy then we are un-American and we should “go back to our country”–an outrageous comment I have had personally leveled at me time and again. There are two assumptions here that warrant unpacking:

1. That to be a full American one has to acquiesce to the US government. This is a dangerous and very un-American assumption. In fact, the whole purpose of the First Amendment is to protect Americans’ right to criticize their government without fear of persecution;

2. White Americans hardly have to deal with such vitriol because the assumption is that they are indigenous, but when a non-white American is critical of the government then they are told that they should “go back to their country.” In other words, a white American would never be told to go back to anywhere because somehow they are native, which, of course, they are not;

In sum, Trump’s attack on these Congresswomen underscores a racial understanding of Americanness and what it means to be a full American–white and/or blind obedience to government.

I am neither white (Iranians are not white despite census classifications) nor born in the US (and I won’t even mention my citizenship status because that’s irrelevant), but I will continue to criticize the government–whether a Democrat or Republican is in office–because it is very important to hold the most powerful country on Earth to a high standard because one wrong policy can lead to the destruction of an entire region a la the #Iraq War.

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