Barkan New York Times Letter to the Editor

Professor Steve Barkan has a letter to the editor in the New York Times:


Readers discuss the president’s “go back” tweet and reflect on earlier calls of “America, love it or leave it.”

July 19, 2019

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Steps Up Attack on 4 Congresswomen, to Roars of Supporters” (news article, July 18):

During the Vietnam War, protesters like me were often called Communists and worse and told to go home to Russia. We kept protesting not only because we detested the war, but also because we loved our country and desperately wanted it to live up to its noble ideals of “liberty and justice for all.”

Critics of America’s failings are now again being called Communists and socialists and told to leave our country, even though they love this nation no less than those who are telling them to go away. As I hear these echoes of the past, I recall and pray our nation heeds the words of a good man, George McGovern, in his acceptance speech at the 1972 Democratic National Convention: “We reject the view of those who say, ‘America, love it or leave it.’ We reply, ‘Let us change it so we can love it more.’”

Steven E. Barkan
Holden, Me.
The writer is professor of sociology at the University of Maine and author of “Protesters on Trial: Criminal Justice in the Southern Civil Rights and Vietnam Antiwar Movements.”