Remember when we were kids and the biggest conflicts we ever had to worry about usually involved keeping other kids out of our tree-houses and pillow forts? Remember the fun we had with our “No Girls(or Boys) Allowed” signs, and the silly rivalries we would form? Well, we grew up, but I don’t think those exclusive mentalities all went away based on the behavior of some of our fellow adults.
Ask yourself this: how many times have you heard someone say, “If they don’t like -blank-, they can get out of my country?” If you’re like me, the answer is a lot. Perhaps you’ve even said similar lines yourself. If that is true, you find yourself in company with the author. But in this case, you and I need to change our propensity towards that kind of talk.
At first such jargon seems passionate if not a little overstated, and if you agree with the stance of the person saying it then maybe you even agree that dissenters should just leave. But such jargon has no place in a truly free society.
Our country is not a children’s play-house in which some bullies get to decide who is in or out. Our country is one in which we have the ability to believe and voice whatever we deem fit, and no man or group of men holds the power to marginalize or castigate beliefs which oppose their own.
Fully grown adults telling others to get out of their country because they have different beliefs is equivalent to a snotty little boy pushing his sister out of his pillow fort. It demonstrates self-centeredness and a lack of the kind of maturity required to be able to engage and coexist with different ideas.
I am a classical liberal. I believe that the United States was largely founded upon classically liberal ideals. Does that mean I believe that both communists and anarchists must leave this country because they have beliefs that contradict the foundations of my country which I love? No.
If I remove the freedom of the anarchists and communists to believe and say what they will, then I have already contradicted my own deepest held beliefs regarding personal freedom. If I would even suggest that those who fundamentally disagree with me should leave because they are not welcome in my country, then I would have blown a chilling wind on true intellectual freedom in the name of conforming to my dogmatic self-righteousness.
We may not always like what those around us have to say, but even children are capable of castigating those whom they do not like. It takes true maturity and humility to call someone with whom you fundamentally disagree a fellow countryman because you both live in a free society that allows for such disagreements.
So let’s stop with the “you’re not allowed in my fort” kind of rhetoric. If we don’t like beliefs or movements that are circulating, then we must engage with them in intelligent, persuasive ways. The moment we begin pushing out beliefs or groups that we do not like, we put ourselves in danger of being silenced next as soon as the tide of public opinion turns against us. In order to make sure that never happens, we must ensure that the freedom to believe and to speak those beliefs goes unhindered and unchilled.
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