In the aftermath of September 11, Americans expressed their sorrow and loyalty the best way they knew how: by decorating their cars with flags and patriotic bumper stickers. These signs of patriotism were wonderful and showed the great spirit of Americans. However, it seems many are sadly mistaken about the American spirit and have taken patriotism to un-American levels.
There is one bumper sticker in particular that makes me furious. It reads, “Love it or Leave it,” with bold letters in red, white, and blue. This sticker implies that one in America has two choices, a: love America, or b: leave America. Many Americans might see nothing wrong with this sentiment and even agree with it.
Let me tell you why those Americans are wrong. First, I ask you to remember, if you will, a document known as the Constitution. You may have learned about it in school. This wonderful document is in fact founded on the belief that America should be a country where the citizens are free to dislike it if they so choose.
Moreover, another document called the Bill of Rights allows those citizens the freedom to speak out against that country (and here’s the crux) while still living in it. Yes, the founders of this great country did not simply make a mistake in the drafting; they actually meant for American citizens to have that freedom.
And what’s more, they believed that freedom would be precisely what would make this country great. They were tired of living under regimes where the government could not be challenged, so they invented a system where if you didn’t “love it,” you could actively work to change it instead of having to “leave it.”
In fact, the slogan “Love it or Leave it” belongs more to communist China or Nazi Germany than to America. Indeed, it is one of the most un-American things ever to masquerade as pro-American sentiment. So to those who proudly display this bumper sticker, I suggest you take a history course to remind yourself what country you call home.
Travis Atria is a junior majoring in English literature.