Criticism and Dissent: Why don’t you just leave?

It’s almost always wise to take a deep breath. Step back as though you’re looking in from the outside, rather ‘objectively’ you might say, in order to see more clearly what’s happening.

“Why don’t you just leave/ go back where you came from?” has a certain logic and a history. Click HERE for the entire Wikipedia article on propaganda.

Ergo decedo (traitorous critic fallacy)

Ergo decedoLatin for “therefore leave” or “then go off”, a truncation of argumentum ergo decedo, and colloquially denominated the traitorous critic fallacy,[1] denotes responding to the criticism of a critic by implying that the critic is motivated by undisclosed favorability or affiliation to an out-group, rather than responding to the criticism itself. The fallacy implicitly alleges that the critic does not appreciate the values and customs of the criticized group or is traitorous, and thus suggests that the critic should avoid the question or topic entirely, typically by leaving the criticized group.[2]

Argumentum ergo decedo is generally categorized as a species of informal fallacy and more specifically as a species of the subclass of ad hominem informal fallacies.

In politics

Argumentum ergo decedo is directly related to the tu quoque fallacy when responding to political criticism. As whataboutism is used against external criticism,  is used against internal criticism.

Examples

Critic: “I think we need to work on improving Nauru‘s taxation system. The current system suffers from multiple issues that have been resolved in other places such as Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands.

Respondent: Well, if you don’t like it, why don’t you just leave and go somewhere you think is better?”

Critic: “Our office’s atmosphere is unsuitable for starting constructive conversations about reforms for the future of the company. A number of improvements are needed.

Respondent: “Well, if you don’t like the corporate system, then why are you here? You should just leave!”

A Personal Reflection

A Personal Reflection

Last night’s campaign rally in North Carolina sent chills up my spine. “Send her back! Send her back!” has a history. It paints criticism of the nation’s policies and behavior as unpatriotic. But patriotism (love on one’s country) is not nationalism. Patriotism is love of country. Nationalism makes the nation god.

We’ve heard these words before. I heard them used during the reign of terror fired up by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. II heard them in response to Ruby Bridges in Little Rock. I heard them from George Wallace and sheriffs, Selma, and Chicago. I heard them again when criticizing our policy in Vietnam War. Back then it was “America: Love it or leave it!” Now, as then, the cry to go home is not a criticism; it’s ergo deceto –a bullying response to criticism. Constitutional democratic republics assume a baseline of respect between and among people who disagree. No scapegoating. No name calling. No dismissal of each other as enemies, and a full, thoughtful discussion of policy and criticism. Wherever criticism is met with the traitorous critic fallacy, constitutional democratic republics are put to the brink of fascism.

Flash back: March 9, 1954: Dissent and Loyalty

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. . . . (McCarthy’s actions) “have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ Good night and good luck.

Edward R. Murrow, March 9, 1954, CBS; Commentary credited with stopping McCarthyism.
  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 18, 2019.

20 thoughts on “Criticism and Dissent: Why don’t you just leave?

  1. Hi again, Marilyn. Strange, isn’t it, that the word ‘righteousness’ has come to mean pompous or arrogant in this culture. It has nothing to do with smugness or religious or moral pride. In both Hebrew and Christian scripture righteousness is alignment (north-south) rather off kilter, as in your moral compass. Paul Wellstone was one of the few who could not be bought. He was a man of conscience, a rarity in the group-think of partisanship.

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      • Preaching on it was a challenge, for just that reason. I had to explain a core biblical concept! ‘Righteousness’ in Hebrew scripture is everywhere, especially in the Psalms and the prophets. In the NT Gospels, Jesus’s recurring conflict was with those who considered themselves ‘righteous. He was not in conflict with ‘righteousness’; he rebuked those who “considered themself righteous” (i.e. prideful). Many folks in non-liturgical Christian churches who only hear the word used pejoratively, not realizing that for Jesus ‘righteousness’ had the meaning of Hebrew scripture. He was not opposing righteousness; like Amos, he was calling out false claims of those who proclaimed to be righteous while living without compassion.

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  2. He is all those things and I ALSO think he is more thank slightly demented which in part accounts for his inability to read and comprehend. Considering he ALSO doesn’t listen to anyone, you have to wonder if the GOP will follow him even when he is blatantly and obviously demented and mindless? Will his mindless ramblings be assumed to be “great thoughts” we simply can’t understand?

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    • I wondered again about dimentia after trying to make sense of the Trump who advocated for observing MLK Day in NYC (according to Scarimuchi — an always reliable source 🧐) and watching Trump back-tracking from responsibility fo the “Send her back” chant in NC the night before. Watching excerpts from that speech the night before, I had a sense that he was taken a-back by the chanting, as though, for a moment, was recognizing the frenzy he had unleashed that had a life of its own.

      There seem to be increasing occasions that lead to the question of dementia; dementia in DJT, and cowardice (three blind mice) in GOP members of Congress, FOX, and elsewhere.

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      • But will the GOP follow him even when it’s obvious that he’s gone way over the hill? Are they such total sycophants that NOTHING will make them change their minds? Do they have minds?

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      • It’s about money and power, isn’t it? Look at the 180 by Lindsay Graham — it’s representative of the party itself. Three yrs ago he was describing DJT with the most insulting words. Then, something happened. Trump got elected. They have minds, but no apparent moral backbone. Their minds are for sale.

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      • I always refer to my concept of right and wrong as a “moral compass.” It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the Golden Rule — or its Jewish predecessor: “Do not do to others what you would not want done to you.”

        In Hebrew, the language is built on “roots” which are rearranged to mean words with a similar intent. So the word for “north” is “tzfohn.” The word for “morality” is “tzfohna” and “compass” is “tzfohneet.” Thus as a compass points north, your moral compass keeps you pointed in the right direction. Hebrew doesn’t even HAVE a word that means “good.” There’s a word for correct (as in correcting a test paper), but the closest you can get to good is “righteous.” The word for “wrong” is “unrighteous.”

        I’ve concluded that “religiosity” and “morality” have little to do with each other because you either have a moral compass — or you don’t. Anyone can claim “God told me to do this (awful) thing” and no one can disprove it since God has been silent, but that moral compass is something most of us are born with.

        Yet these purported “believers” can be bought for cash or equivalently purchased with promises to support his or her ‘bid” for election or re-election. What kind of moral compass changes direction for cash or power?

        I find it almost impossible to accept anyone who considers themselves righteous — Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Atheist, undecided will sell their souls for cash or power. I don’t think I will ever understand and possibly, that’s just as well.

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  3. Just when I think my disgust and despair over the current state of affairs can’t go any higher, a new outrage is committed. I join you in your horror at what transpired yesterday, Gordon. Our country was built on the free exchange of ideas, discuss and dissent. We are trending dangerous grounds…

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    • Thank you, Lori. We have to meet someday. 🙂We are at a tipping point. Either we re-affirm the constitution separation of powers and create an inclusive civil society or we fall over the cliff to fascism. As for congress, I agree with John Flannery, former staff of the Nixon impeachment process who frequently appears as a commentator on The Beat, that it’s time for the House to ACT on what they’ve declared Barr and Ross to be in Contempt of Congress. They should be arrested. Otherwise, it’s all smoke with no fire. All growl; no bite.

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  4. Let’s grant that the likes Anthony Scarimuchi’s comments on CNN & Fox in the last 12 hours have some validity in their contention that Trump isn’t a racist based on things like Trump’s actions back in the day to get NYC & Wall St to close for MLK Day. Assuming that his seemingly racist comments are all show makes him worse than being a racist. He knows better & still uses the these tropes to stir the actual racists into a frenzy. Seems to me the epitome of a fascist attitude. IOW, make the masses dependent on the 1% for their little bit of justice & freedom.

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    • Gary, I was unfamiliar with Scaromichi’s comments and certainly find them interesting. All the mores when playing the race card without playing the race card to stir actual racists into a frenzy. If DJT is anything, IMHO, he’s a Narcissist who would shrivel up if the cameras were to leave him without a mirror. I also believe he’s a classist white nationalist.

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