Home > Analysis > The idiotic “Why are you still in America?” fallacy

The idiotic “Why are you still in America?” fallacy

So it’s very common to see this moronic rhetorical question used against anyone that is criticizing aspects of the US or supporting aspects of China. It’s really just the “love it or leave it” trope often used by ignorant bigots. So, once and for all, here’s why this fallacy is ridiculous so that any future fool/troll (hence called “haters”)  that wish to use that as a response to any argument thinking that it’s clever and effective will be better educated.

First of all, it is actually at least two bundled fallacies in one. One major fallacy that it commits is the false dilemma fallacy. It assumes that there are only two viable options available: namely, complete servile silence or agreement when it comes to the US or moving out of the US to some foreign country.

Obviously, restricting to these two options are not justified. One can live in this country and still criticize it without any contradiction. A third option may be the best option. One of the duties of any citizen, American or not, is to make their country better. The best way to do that is through constant vigilance and criticism where criticism is due. The Founding Fathers of America realized this. Haters often do not. Obviously, there are more options available than falling into servile silence or full endorsement on the one hand or leaving this country. One can criticize a country and still live in it even as a patriotic American. In fact, many patriotic people may view leaving the country as not an option not because they believe the US to be the best country but because they view leaving as a cowardly act not benefiting the country. Instead, staying and improving its deficiencies is viewed as the most patriotic choice, one that is most expressive of love for one’s country.

The fallacy is also a strawman fallacy. Because the haters often assumes that those who criticize the country don’t love it. They may also assume that those who criticize this country are, in fact, Americans or even live here.

All these assumptions may be false. First of all, many patriotic people may criticize this country precisely because they love it. They want this country to be the best it can possibly be. Just as I may complain about my house having certain structural defects and still love my house, I may criticize my country and still love it. In fact, in criticizing my house’s defects and trying to fix it, I am demonstrating a love of my house in not letting it fall into dilapidation.

Furthermore, one may assume that a person that criticizes the US actually lives in the US. Several of the bloggers here either live in another country full time or part time. Though all bloggers here as far as I know, have lived extensively in the US, many choose to live a large portion of their lives in other countries. Some aren’t even US citizens. So obviously, telling them to move out of the country is comically stupid.

Haters may also have the assumption that by living in the US it is a kind of tacit agreement that the US is the best country in the world for why would you live here when you can live anywhere else? This is silly. Even if someone living in America really disliked America and wanted to move to another country, that may be difficult to do. Countries in other parts of the world simply don’t just let anyone move in. One has to go through many procedures and even then, may not let you in. I’ve known many Americans who have or want to move to Canada or some other country permanently. There may be little choice to live in the US. Those who do have a choice sometimes do move out. For example, a large portion of Chinese citizens who studied in the US are known as “sea turtles” or those who study in the US but eventually move back to China. Other practical difficulties with moving or immigrating out is that some people may have family, work, friends, spouses, etc in the US and that makes moving out difficult even when wishes to.

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  1. April 26th, 2012 at 16:08 | #1

    Very timely, Melektaus. I’ve added a “Countering Trolls” section right above the Recent Comments area.

  2. Charles Liu
    April 26th, 2012 at 16:13 | #2

    Don’t like it get out? It seems ironic to me those vocal expat China critics won’t take their own advice and get out of China. Like that John Kennedy guy. In China he can be a human rights champion, but back in Canada he’s a fry cook… can you blame him for not wanting to go back?

  3. colin
    April 26th, 2012 at 16:32 | #3

    It’s highly ironic when I survey many of the china-bashing blogs about their gripes with China. It so easy to change the word”China” to “US” or any other western country in their postings, and their gripes still have the same truth. What’s astonishing is the sheer de-humanizing hate they have of China. They pick on the worst of human nature and attribute it to something solely demonic about China, while they are blind to or forgive the same or worse vices in their countries of origin. That hypocrisy is damning evidence about the agenda’s and misguided beliefs of those expats.

  4. silentchinese
    April 27th, 2012 at 12:15 | #4

    Hehe,
    the same thing can be said of these expat leeches who stay and work in china and extract their livelihood from china, but bash china at same time.
    on a greater level… foreign corporations who does business in china and derive their nice quarterly figures from chinese consumers and workers.

    🙂

  5. pug_ster
    April 27th, 2012 at 12:33 | #5

    Western Propaganda portrays the Chinese people wanting to come to this country because Westerners think that their country is ‘free’ and Chinese want to experience ‘democracy.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, Chinese people with green cards can’t vote. Racism and violence towards them is evident in the West, that’s why they tend to live in tight knit communities. So why are they here, better higher education and prospects for a job. If wasn’t for that, many Chinese would probably be long gone back to China.

  6. silentchinese
    April 27th, 2012 at 13:47 | #6

    @pug_ster

    also,
    education for their children; avoid intense competition at home; cleaner air/water; etc etc

    but, like you said. to live in a nominally politically open society where one gets to choose 1 candidate out of 2 instead of out of 1. and nominally you have more possibilty of more robust rule of law, is a part of the quation. but most likely is only a small part.

    over all it is a balance and the equation is different for every person.

    I knew of westerners and chinese who has gone to Qatar/Abu Dhabi to work/ try to make it.

    I also know bunch of westerners who is trying to strike it in Shanghai.

    same idea.

  7. zack
    April 27th, 2012 at 18:34 | #7

    y’know, this ‘why are you still in america’ fallacy can be turned upon the same nationalistic Americans themselves; why, for instance does America continue to do business and trade with China if they consider her to be such a deplorable state and such a threat to American hegemony?
    Why do Americans continue to go to China to do business if they find her ‘human rights’ to be so inexcusable?
    Why are Americans prepared to ask China to invest in US Treasuries if they’re so concerned about the value of the Yuan?
    Why aren’t westerners prepared to pay more for their ‘assembled in China’ products if they find working conditions at Foxconn to be so deplorable?
    Why aren’t Westerners prepared to punish companies who move jobs overseas if they’re so obsessed about China ‘taking our jobs’??
    why aren’t Westerners prepared to apologise for their own colonial abuses and pay reparations if they consider the unrests in Xinjiang and Tibet to be so deplorabloe?

    Door swings both ways, and China has never made an issue of another country’s ‘human rights record’ for the sake of a need to satisfy some sort of personal insecurity (looking at the West here)

  8. LOLZ
    April 28th, 2012 at 19:22 | #8

    I think the question is actually valid, although it’s better directed at the expats in China who complain about China all the time but still manage to remain there. Most people, including millions of Chinese each year move to the US because the US offers a higher standard of living. There is no shame to admitting this. The fact that Chinese Americans are sick of an American foreign policy lead by neocons (bent to change everyone else but themselves) doesn’t conflict with Chinese American’s desires to live better lives. It reinforces it.

    This logic doesn’t apply to China bashers who live in China though. This is because according to the China bashers, better standard of living isn’t a big deal, political freedom is. If this is the real case, why are they in China where they have less political freedom? The reality is that most of them want opportunities to benefit themselves financially in China just like other immigrants moving to the US, but somehow they can’t get off their high horse and admit to this.

  9. April 28th, 2012 at 19:41 | #9

    @LOLZ

    There are several relevant differences between expats in China and the case for most Chinese Americans. Many Chinese Americans either were born in this country or immigrated with their parents when they were young. So in either case, they didn’t have a choice to move here. Many adult Chinese people in the US are also here to study and wish to move back after they complete their education (sea turtles). Most expats moved to China as adults and work in China.

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