If you don’t love it, stay anyway

By BRYAN DAVIS EDITOR,

Back in 2006, I managed to score tickets to a Bob Dylan concert at the Jackson Coliseum.

At the time, the poet laureate of Rock & Roll was touring with Merle Haggard.

This was at the height of the Iraq war, which was quite a divisive issue throughout my college years.

Some favored America’s intervention in the region post-9/11, and some did not.

Haggard got a roaring applause when he broke into his hit, Fightin’ Side of Me, but when he reached the line “If you don’t love it, leave it,” his band went silent for about 10 seconds, and he picked back up on the next line.

Prior to his death, Haggard expressed misgivings about that line, not because he had changed his political views drastically, but because he came to understand that while Americans may not always agree on politics, everyone is free to have an opinion.

He pocketed his pride, and that lyric, to let folks know they were free to object to Operation Iraqi Freedom without being told to pack up and take their carcass to Canada.

This past weekend, President Donald Trump echoed the original version of Haggard’s classic while targeting a group of congresswomen.

He suggested that they leave, even going so far to say they should go back where they “came from,” despite the fact that most were born in the United States.

One of the targets, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in the United States, but she is actually of Puerto Rican descent. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. territory, which makes AOC American through and through.

Despite the citizenship issues, Trump stooped pretty low on this one to suggest that any American, much less sitting congresswomen, should leave the country if they do not like current policies.

I personally disagree with just about every policy position AOC and other Democrats in Congress take on a daily basis, but the last thing I want is for them to leave the country.

Having disagreements and debates about policies is what makes America great, which Trump and supporters of his tirade should note if the end goal is to truly make America great again.

This is what separates us from other countries, even ones that have democratic governments.

Free speech is being eroded from the totalitarian wings of both parties.

The notion that there are opinions “too dangerous” for public consumption has led to an equally dangerous and inconsistent enforcement of censorship on online platforms that has targeted multiple conservative commentators.

And then there’s the Trump brand of burning the First Amendment.

I’m not one of those who get overly bent out of shape about his comments regarding the media. Saying CNN or Fox News are dishonest is not a direct attack on the First Amendment, in my opinion.

Trump’s comments toward the congresswomen last weekend, however, are much more damaging. They stifle free thought and discourse at the congressional level, and it gives a pass to everyday Americans who want to discuss politics to shut their opponents down by telling them “If you don’t love it, leave it.”

Merle eventually came to the realization that this tactic is un-American. Hopefully Trump will as well.

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