“Send her back! Send her back!” This was the chant that echoed through the Williams Arena in Greenville North Carolina on Wednesday when President Trump brought up Ilhan Omar. People from all across the spectrum have denounced the chants. Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire called them “vile” on Twitter, numerous left-wing figures called them “racist”. Even Trump himself has disavowed them.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the chants. I will say that to call them “racist” is a fantastic oversimplification of what is truly going on here. Yes, Ilhan Omar is originally from another country, so because there is actually somewhere to send her back to, she gets that specific chant whereas someone like Bernie Sanders might not. That said, if Trump started talking about Bernie Sanders and someone started chanting “Deport Bernie” that chant would likely start to echo through the arena just like the “send her back” chants did. It’s the same reason people chanted “lock her up” when Trump would talk about Hillary Clinton. It’s a combination of mob mentality and a sense of utter disdain for leftist rhetoric that runs so deep as to make people question if they want to share a country with radical leftists any longer.
People have said that chants like this “sow division”. That’s not quite true, because it presumes the division wasn’t already there, to begin with. Marxist leftists like Ilhan Omar and many before her have been sowing this division for decades. They’ve been calling anyone who doesn’t agree with their policies bigots, racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, and all sorts of other slurs to the point where those words have lost all meaning. Not to mention the casual bigotry that the urban leftist elites have displayed toward rural America for decades. What these leftists have conveyed to anyone who doesn’t agree with their Marxist ideology, especially white, rural, cis-gendered, straight, Christian males is that we are not welcome in their utopia. Unless we repent and accept intersectional Marxism as our Lord and Savior we should be ostracized from polite society. Effectively, they have made it clear that they do not want to share a country with anyone who would dare resist their ideology.
The people who chanted “send her back” have picked up on this and responded in kind, which raises a conundrum: as offensive as such a chant might sound, to what degree do we really object to the notion that our country would be better off without Marxists like Omar? Does anyone really believe that people who want to overthrow Christianity, capitalism, science, and even rationality itself make this country better? What does the average citizen have in common with such a person? Even if it were the Marxists who deported all of us instead, could we really say that we would be worse off being separated from them?
These people try to ruin careers over a tweet, they assault journalists in the street or at least look the other way when their friends do. They want to throw people in jail for using the wrong gender pronouns, and oh yeah, they like to kill unborn babies! They use every avenue, government, business, the Church, academia, anything they can to impose their will on everyone else and silence dissent.
Now it’s true that Americans have always disagreed on various issues and have been forced to compromise to get things done. It’s also true that disagreements often involved very deep and fundamentally different views, but throughout all those times there were certain basic ideas that we had in common, such as a fundamental appreciation for liberty, individualism, and objective truth. Not to say that these ideas were always adhered to because they most certainly were not. But at least there was a general agreement that these things ought to be preserved and appreciated even if there were strong disagreements on how to do so.
Slavery, for example, was an issue that divided this country to the point of civil war. Even so, there was a fundamental agreement in principle that liberty was important; the dispute being over who exactly it ought to apply to. Yet as evil and hypocritical as supporters of slavery were, they at least had enough respect for the idea of liberty to be content to merely leave the Union, and not force the detestable practice on the rest of the country.
Marxists have no such restraint. They will not rest until the whole nation or worse is a Communist utopia. What compromise is there to be had with such people? Modern Marxists do not even believe in the concept of objective truth, or reason. The differences are so vast at such a fundamental level that there is hardly any common ground on which to even begin a conversation with such people.
With all this in mind, it’s completely understandable that people would feel and express the sentiment that a particular leftist or leftists ought to be expelled from our country, which is why I found it difficult to feel particularly offended by the “send her back” chants. However, as understandable as the sentiment is, it has its own problems both from an American and a Christian perspective, not to mention a practical perspective.
One of the most crucial American ideas is toleration of the expression of opposing ideas. We can not, on the one hand, accuse the left of tyranny when they attempt to silence opposing voices, and then imply that we ought to use the force of the government to remove people with opposing ideas from our country, lest we become tyrants ourselves and thus hypocrites. Furthermore, from a practical perspective, could we trust the government to accurately identify leftists and deport only them? Or is it more likely that it would become a witch hunt where everyone mildly inconvenient to whoever was in power at the time would be subject to exile? I think we know the answers to both questions.
From the Christian perspective, we are called to “love your neighbor as yourself”. One might argue that Marxists are our enemies, not our neighbors, but even if that is true we are called to love them anyway in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Can we honestly say that we would want the Marxists to deport us? Can we honestly say that deporting an American citizen who has committed no crimes other than having stupid, evil political opinions is loving? Again I think the answers are self-evident.
We do not have to treat the ideas with love and respect, but we do have to treat the people who hold them that way. It doesn’t matter if they reciprocate, it doesn’t matter if they deserve it. We are supposed to love and respect them regardless. God sent his son to die for us despite our opposition to him, so whether we like it or not, and whether it feels good or not, we are obligated, as his followers, to show the same love to our opponents. This is not an easy thing to do, and to be honest had I been at the rally, I would likely have succumbed to the mob mentality and the anti-leftist sentiment and been chanting along as well. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make it right to utter such a chant, and as followers of Christ, as hard as it might be, we are called to do better.