Denotes responding to the criticism of a critic by implying that the critic is motivated by undisclosed favorability or affiliation to an out-group, rather than responding to the criticism itself. The fallacy implicitly alleges that the critic does not appreciate the values and customs of the criticized group or is traitorous, and thus suggests that the critic should avoid the question or topic entirely, typically by leaving the criticized group.
President Trump’s Tweet suggested that elected government officials, who came to the United States from other countries, who disagree with United States policy, should go back to their home countries and attempt to fix them before being critical of America.
This is demonstrative of the fallacy: argumentum ergo decedo. Which loosely translates to “then go off,” or “then leave.” That if one has criticism of the country, they should leave.
It is a fallacy, because rather than responding to the specific criticism, it directs the critic to leave, if they don’t like it.
A Strategic Error
At the time of writing this article, July 14th, 2019, AOC and Nancy Pelosi were at odds, with AOC implying, perhaps accusing, Pelosi of racism for criticizing her. The reasoning being: that Pelosi is white and AOC is Hispanic; a terrible argument. Meanwhile Trumps approval rating soared to the highest it has ever been, approximately 47%.
A contributing factor was that the media was largely focused on the Democrats, putting them at a strategic disadvantage comparatively to the Republicans, months before the 2020 presidential election.
The damage: now the spotlight is back on the Republicans instead of the Democrats. The quarrel within the Democratic party was an opportunity for Republicans to silently await for Democratic support to erode. This opportunity has evaporated with the President’s tweet.
Allegation of Racism
Finally we come to the issue of racism. The question: are the statements of the president racist?
Although unstated, it can be assumed that the statements were directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, a refugee from Somalia, elected to Minnesota’s 5th district.
The president’s statement is being interpreted as “go back to where you came from,” which can certainly be taken as a racist, xenophobic statement.
To be more accurate, the presidents statement is actually closer to this: “Before you criticize America, fix your home country.” The “go back” part of the statement, was a colossal error.
But is it racist?
Test it with other groups of people. If a German living in Kansas was critical of the United States, the statement would apply to them. If a Chinese person living in California was critical of the United States, the statement would also apply to them.
The statement applies to country of origin, and not race. The countries that it applies to are all countries that are not the United States. The affected races of people, are all races of people. Therefore race is not specified, therefore the statement cannot be racist.
It is being touted as a racist statement due to political expediency, not because of an accurate and truthfully motivated analysis.
The president’s statement is fallacious, but not racist.