“If you don’t like this country, then leave”
“If X happens, I’m going to leave”
I read these statements all of the time. In fact, I have had the first one used against me in Facebook and blog comments.
My first response is usually some variant of “is this all you have”? It’s not an argument. It’s an attempt to shut off the conversation. It is, like many rhetorical tricks used by people who are not into reasoned debate, intellectually risible, unserious nonsense. It reads like childish petulance, the sort of thing you would not tolerate from one of your own children.
It is hardly surprising that these kinds of invitations are usually written by authoritarians. One thing I notice about authoritarians is that many of them have a binary worldview. When they think they are in the ascendant, they suggest or demand that anybody who does not agree with them leave the country. When they fear they are not in the ascendant, they decide that they themselves are going to leave the country.
My response to “If you don’t like it leave” is usually “no, I am a citizen, I am not leaving. Now, do you have an argument?”
What I always think after reading the meme “I’m going to leave the country” is “so where the hell are you going to go?”. The challenge is that when they say “I am going to leave this country”, that is not all that they are saying. Unspoken is the addition “I am going to go somewhere else and set up a place where We Are In Charge”. That unspoken pre-condition tends to limit where they can go.
Not Europe, that is a socialist hellhole. India is hot and full of people of the wrong color. China is communist and therefore scary. Russia is too cold. Latin America is strange and mostly socialist. The Middle East is full of terrorists…The list goes on.
I can really only think of a handful of countries that authoritarians might decide match their worldview. The snag is that they are all failed states occupied by corrupt venal and dictatorial regimes. And they are in dangerous parts of the world. In short, they would be a long way down any sensible person’s list of places to visit, never mind places to go live. The other thing that they are also overlooking is that they are never going to be In Charge in any countries run by authoritarians, and if they annoy somebody in the government, they will probably start to disappear in the middle of the night, never to be seen again.
As I said, these kinds of petulant foot-stomping comments are unserious.