I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans — rhetorically or otherwise — to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was typically stupid and it was typically counterproductive, and it deserves nothing less than has been aimed at it.
But not all criticisms are alike. …
… Legally, Ilhan Omar has exactly the same rights as someone born here. And she should, without exception. Culturally, though, the idea that Omar does not “owe a special debt of gratitude to the” United States is ridiculous, as is the idea that Omar’s views of the United States should not be affected by that debt. Of course she should be grateful! The United States saved her from a warzone, let her stay, accepted her as a citizen, and then elected her to Congress. If one can’t be grateful for that, what can one be grateful for?
Should Omar “temper her critiques of American politics and culture”? That depends. Again: Legally, Omar should enjoy every Constitutional protection available. And, as a matter of course, she should feel able to take part in the political process on the same terms as everyone else. But, culturally, it is absolutely reasonable for Omar’s critics to look at her behavior and say, “really, that’s your view of us?” It’s absolutely reasonable for Omar’s fellow Americans to dislike her and to shun her as a result. It is absolutely reasonable for them to consider her an ingrate — or to believe … that she is “a toxic presence in American politics.”