‘Don’t Like It? Then Leave!’ — A Lot Of Derp In Five Words

This week’s Silly Meme

This meme, or at least its general idea, has been around for a long time. I first heard the theme as a youngster, when one adult made a formal complaint to another adult about the way a church was being run. A third party commented: “If you don’t like it so much, why don’t you just leave?” Since then, I’ve heard the same sentiment expressed about businesses, schools, and — more recently — our nation.

This meme in particular refers to President Donald J. Trump, saying:

“Don’t like him? Solution… Google a country with a President you like… then pack and move there.”

Note: I want to give this particular meme-maker credit for avoiding the ALL CAPS issue from which most social media memes suffer. Further, this one appears to have no spelling errors or randomly inserted apostrophes. Amazing. I also thought it kind to give us time to pack. Most of the time, expressions of this sentiment just want you to leave.

Here’s the thing: Ur a idiot. Okay, that was a low blow, and I take it back. Kind of.

1. The entire point of critiquing something is to suggest how it could be improved. That you missed this says more about you than it says about anyone else. If I say “my local library doesn’t have many science fiction books”, the entire (very obvious) point is: “it should have more science fiction books”. If your automatic response is: “Then quit coming to the library”, then you’re not too bright.

2. The entire point of the United States of America was to be better. Better than the religious persecution of Europe. Better than being ruled by an unelected, hereditary monarch thousands of miles away. But even more than that, it was to get better over time. The framers of the Constitution assumed they didn’t get it perfect the first time, so they built in the mechanism for amending it.

Further, in case someone ever didn’t like the President, they had a plan for that too, and — here is the really cool part — they wrote that plan down and called it “the Term of four Years”, requiring an election every single time. But one of them must have had doubts, wondering aloud: “What if someone doesn’t like the President between elections? Must they wait four years?” So they cobbled together a list, flippantly called a Bill of Rights, making sure the first one addressed exactly that sentiment.

I’ve paraphrased it here:

“Feel free to believe whatever you want, say what’s on your mind — or even publish it if you want to. Also, you’re free to get together with like-minded people. And by all means let the government know what’s bugging you.”

I’m not making this up, you can check the First Amendment any time you like; there are copies all over the place.

And then one of the founding fathers probably asked: “But what if someone is merely discontent and partisan, and really, truly does not actually like the President? Shouldn’t that person just sail hitherto back to Europe where they came from?” After much discussion, the others shook their heads and pointed back to the list they’d just written: “Dude, we already said they could ‘petition the government for a redress of grievances’, or just talk about it if they wanted to. What would be the point in asking them to leave?”

I’m kidding on that last part. Probably. But if one of today’s conservatives could travel back in time to partake in the writing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we’d have a record of exactly that conversation. “If you don’t like it, why don’t you just leave?” might have been Amendment Number Two.

  1. Dana says:

    I agree with the gist of your critique of the meme – as applied in this instance (you don’t like Trump – leave America) but I don’t think that sentiment is always invalid.

    I’ve seen people, who for instance, don’t like anything on a restaurant’s menu and then will torture the server, asking for a million substitutions and off-menu items. If you don’t like a particular restaurant, wouldn’t it make more sense to go to one you like, rather than dining at and complaining about the one you don’t like?

    Another example – the studio were I practice yoga focuses on a particular style of yoga, which is not very “flowy” (the current trend in yoga classes is for flow or “aggressive” yoga). The studio is very clear that they are not a flow studio (in the website and in each class description), yet inevitably, a student will show up and then bad mouth the studio because they’re not teaching flow.

    So, while expecting someone to leave a country because they don’t like the present administration, or more importantly, expecting someone to keep silent and not express dissent when they perceive that wrong is being done is ridiculous; it’s not always unacceptable that someone who is dissatisfied might be expected to find other circumstances that suit them better.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      Excellent response.

      Yes, there is nuance here that I ignored in the attempt to be brief. :-)

      (But in the context of political conversations about the U.S., I have *never* seen a case where one party disliked the country so much that they should actually leave. Every single time, it’s been a case of “here, I have this complaint about this one thing that we could probably improve”, and the response has been: “If you don’t like it, then get out” — usually accompanied by profanity and name-calling. Also, VERY often, the party being told to leave is actually someone who’d obviously have it worse elsewhere.)

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