On being told to go back where you come from


Donald Trump and his typing fingers are in trouble again (as they are pretty much every day) for telling “the Squad” of Democrat Congresswomen to “go back where they come from”. This was deemed to be deeply racist (the hashtag #RacistInChief is currently trending) as well as inaccurate, as three of the four in question were born in the United States. Even many of Trump’s usual defenders (like my friend John Hinderaker at Powerline or Boncie at Red State) think this has been a colossal mistake as it distracts from the current Democrat civil war between the establishment and the Squad and its fans and puts the spotlight back on Trump.


I will leave the political strategies and tactics to people who are much wiser and more experienced than me, but let me make this observation as a migrant (from Poland to Australia, on the insignificant oft-chance you have not heard me telling you this about twenty times before) who happens to be very happy in his new home and very grateful to the nation that adopted me.

In just about every Western society I am aware of there is a sizable minority of probably between 10 and 20 per cent of the population who appear to be deeply and profoundly unhappy about the shape and the direction of their own country. This sentiment ranges from a sheer hatred and loathing of the society, which is deemed irredeemably unjust, oppressive, racist, and any number of other characteristics usually ending in -ist or -phobic, and it only deserves to survive if radically transformed, all the way to a milder disappointment and despondency that the society (and the general population) constantly fail to live up to one’s standards of what is good and desirable.

To all these people I always want to say: You know that you are not imprisoned and kept by force where you are, don’t you? If you really so passionately dislike just about everything about your country, you have to ask yourself a question – why suffer? why keep putting yourself through this endless unhealthy rage and frustration? There are many different types of societies around the world, some of which are without doubt a lot closer to your vision of what an ideal community should be like. Wouldn’t you be happier living somewhere else? It just doesn’t make sense to me that you would want to live in a place you don’t like when you have options to live in places you would.

In moments of my own great frustration I call it the FOSE principle, which simply stands for “F*** Off Somewhere Else”.

The principle is colour blind and doesn’t discriminate between people who are “native” and those who might have only recently arrived from somewhere else.

Indeed, I would say that most people in that 10-20 per cent perpetually unhappy and whiny minority are the long-standing residents and only a minority of this minority happen to be the first generation immigrants. Most migrants, in fact, are both happy and grateful to be in their second home.

But whether you are a tenth generation or a first generation American (or Australian or British or French) you are always free to FOSE and I would really encourage you to do so. For your own sake. I’m a great believer that people as much as possible should be able to live in a society that reflects their values; if this is not possible in a country A then you should consider country B, C or D as your options for a much more fulfilling life, surrounded by people much like yourself, who will provide you with a real sense of community you are clearly not experiencing at the moment.

Of course, if you are indeed a recent immigrant then the FOSE principle sometimes can be inelegantly phrased (as it has been in this case by Trump) as “go back to where you came from”. Going back to where you came from might in any case be impossible or would not actually result in a greater personal satisfaction, but going somewhere else can. On Twitter, National Review’s David French has argued today that there is no case that immigrants should have a special kind of gratitude to their country since they have done more to be there than most native born citizens whose only qualification was, well, being born there. That might or might not be the case, but when faced with a whinging immigrant I wonder every time: in most cases I can understand why you are emigrating from your own country but why immigrate to a country you seem to dislike or which disappoints you so much and which in either case you want to change into something very different to what it is? Wouldn’t it make more sense to instead immigrate to any of a number of countries out there that will surely be more to your liking? I would think this would be a no-brainer that would both make you happier and would also benefit more your new chosen home.

Take me, as imperfect as I may be as an example (as imperfect as any individual case might be): I hated living under communism for reasons that should be obvious to most thinking people but which I have explained elsewhere in case there was any doubt. This made me want to live in a country which was a democracy, was built on liberal principles, believed in free market, and was peaceful and stable. Australia ticked all these boxes. I’m grateful because Australia didn’t have to have me but decided to do so in any case. Now, if I had other values and other priorities, Australia would not be quite for me and I would have aimed to end up somewhere else. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a country I didn’t like; had enough of that in communist Poland.

As Australia’s former Treasurer, Peter Costello, famously said, if your ideal society is constructed around the principles of Sharia law then Australia might really not be the best destination for you. If you are a socialist, the United States of America might likewise be a curious choice that will leave you very unsatisfied (and arguably unsatisfiable). If you value living in a religious society of any kind, secular democracy might not be a good fit for you. And so on and so on.

None of the above implies any prohibition. We are, after all, living in democracies. You have a right to hate your own country, you have a right to be unhappy, frustrated and disappointed with your country, you have a right to express all those sentiments. Indeed you have a right to stand as a candidate in elections, and in case of the four targets of Trump’s tweet, you might actually even get elected, which gives you a particularly prominent platform and a megaphone to shout out your deep and profound disapproval of your country.

But for God’s love, why put yourself through so much suffering and heartache, particularly when – and here we come a full circle – you’re in a minority that is extremely unlikely to ever have their way and reshape the society in your own image against the wishes of the 80-90 per cent of people who are generally OK with where they live, at least to the extent of not obsessing and agitating about it. FOSE makes sense; FOSE is a kind thing to do – to yourself and to the rest of us who are happy enough.

So to  Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, clearly with exception of the Mogadishu-born Omar, you can’t go to where you come from but you all can FOSE to a number of other wonderful countries around the world that embody your socialist aspirations much more than the United States. There is Venezuela, there is Cuba, there is any number of countries in the so called developing world that are more statist and more communitarian than the decadent West. There is also Scandinavia, which taxes a lot more and spends a lot more on the welfare state, though you might be disappointed to discover that the Nordics aren’t as socialist as you have been led to believe. But in any case, believe me, I would love nothing more to see each one of you happy and feeling truly at home. It breaks my heart to watch you suffer as you do at the moment. It’s like seeing people staying in relationships with completely incompatible partners, leaving them depressed, unhappy, unfulfilled. You have the power to change you circumstances. Consider all option, choose happiness. I did; so can all of you.