I see a trend in the vigorous disagreements that are supposed to be part of the American political process.

When right-wing or “conservative” critics protest against left-wing or “liberal” government officials and policies, it has been considered patriotic, even a patriotic duty (although left-wing opponents have fought back, sometimes with very harsh rhetoric or actions). However, when left-wing critics have protested against right-wing government officials and policies, they have been accused of hating America and told to leave the country if they did not like it (“America: Love it or leave it.”).

This odd distinction between “patriotic” right-wing protests and “America-hating” left-wing protests became clear to me when I taught introductory psychology in the late 1960s with students including Vietnam War veterans and anti-war protesters. I worked hard to make the classes welcoming for all students and to keep class discussions focused on the dry assigned topics without drifting into political arguments. Outside my classroom, I saw that while both sides were passionate and often vituperative, it was only people with left-wing views who were often told to leave the United States.

That continuing trend seems to have merged with the vicious, racist custom of telling people with other than pale white or pink skin, regardless of their politics, to “go back to the country you came from,” even if their great-grandparents were born in the USA.

People complain when they believe I am wrong again or offensive, but nobody tells me to go back to England. I wonder if we could debate what is best for the country we love without telling those who disagree about what is best for our country to leave the United States or, if they do not have pale white or pink skin, to “go back to the country you came from.”

JOHN WILLIS

419 Sand Hill Road

Peterborough