More on the hate culture in Grand Junction: “If you don’t like it, leave”

We came home from our anniversary dinner last fall to find this sticker slapped on our mailbox. President Trump has emboldened nasty behavior among Mesa County right wingers.

Note: I first published this article in August of 2018, but given President Trump’s recent racist statements toward four female freshmen members of Congress, it seems appropriate to re-post it. — AL, July 21, 2019


Anyone on the western slope who has pointed out hatred, bigotry, unequal treatment or violations of people’s constitutional or civil rights in our area has heard the phrase over and over: “If you don’t like what’s going on here, you can just leave.”

That’s what many western slope residents say to people who live here who aren’t just like them, who may have moved here from somewhere else, or who disagree with them or assert their constitutional rights.

Here is the “If you don’t like it, you can just get out” sentiment expressed by one Grand Junction resident to another on social media, along with a personal insult (“idiots like you”) for good measure, a technique that helps the writer dehumanize her target:

So what’s so bad about saying “If you don’t like it, then leave”?

Bobbye Horton-Huddleston’s sentiment (above) is based on a fundamentally immoral principle: It tells people who are actively being oppressed or persecuted by others that it’s their duty to leave, not the persecutor’s duty to recognize or take action to stop the hurtful behavior.

The “you can leave” statement doesn’t refute any of the arguments being made. Rather, it allows the speaker to dodge the real arguments and is also a tacit admission of guilt. The “if you don’t like it, leave” sentiment also serves several additional rhetorical functions for the speaker: 1) It shuts down the discussion so the person who says it doesn’t have to admit they are being immoral and hurting others; 2) It is a form of victim-blaming because it keeps the speaker from having to acknowledge the perpetrators’ actions or the victims’ pain; 3) Telling someone to “get out” because they don’t agree with you also indicates a clear failure to recognize the problem at the heart of the discussion: Where people live isn’t the problem. The problem is the people who live here who seek to violate others’ rights.

Immorality on parade

This particular display of immorality has become so pervasive in our area that it is accepted as normal behavior, even among people who to represent themselves to the community as religious role models. Here is the “If you don’t like it, leave!” sentiment expressed by none other than “Reverend” Robert Babcox, senior pastor of the Orchard Mesa Baptist Church:

Saying “if you don’t like it, you can get out” is the equivalent of telling the other person “Everything you told me is factually correct, but instead of acknowledging it, I’m going to distract from the real issue by shifting the burden of fixing the problem onto YOUR shoulders instead of mine.”

In using the phrase, the speaker admits cruelty and injustices are being done, but feels it’s acceptable and disavows any responsibility for correcting the shameful behavior. It’s a last-ditch thing someone says when they realize they are losing a debate. 

Saying “if you don’t like it, get out” in a discussion does more to point out the immorality and willful ignorance of the speaker than it does to move our area towards a more robust understanding of civil rights, and what the American ideal is really about.

In addition, nothing will change the fact that we ALL live here, and we should probably all learn to get along.

  13 comments for “More on the hate culture in Grand Junction: “If you don’t like it, leave”

  1. I’m deeply fundamental. A religious far-right. These religious types aren’t going away. But they are just words. hurtful, yes, but still, just words. Be immovable. Stick to your guns. They don’t have to respect you. You don’t have to respect them. Democracy has its risks. Stop looking for a consensus when we live in a majority rule democracy. Make your own community. Make your own town. And do it better. Because it’s time for the people to rule again. And that doesn’t mean vote for more Democrats. It means to break up the status quo. And you can’t do that with career politicians.

  2. Please announce

    26 Sunday, McCain memorial and vigil, 10 am – 8:30 pm, Wells Fargo Bank on Main in GJ
    Candlelight vigil, 7:30 pm
    Flowers notes candles

  3. It occurs to me that those who respond with the don’t-like-it-leave message are terrified of change. They live in a black-white (no reference intended) world where there are never any nuances or mitigating circumstances. Gray is not an option for them. They need to be right and the alternative is wrong. It speaks to their view of themselves. If they are wrong, they are worthless. And they don’t have to think at all.
    I have a friend on that side of the aisle who spouts occasionally. Sometimes I ask her “why?” You know that stops her in her tracks. She has to justify her position. One time she admitted that I make her think.
    So, maybe the optimal response to the leave message is why? Any other ideas? I really want to develop some tactics to respond to the other side that are not defensive or belittling. A pissing match is a waste of time and energy. Help me out here, folks! Thanks.

    • Linda, on par with your “Why?” question, I think asking them for a sincere answer to the questions of why they didn’t leave when Obama was president might be an interesting tactic to deal with it.

  4. It’s just the death throes of a mindset that is no longer useful and will be stamped out. But those Bubbas sure do whine a lot on the way to the exit.

  5. In the words of PeeWee Herman: Ï know you are but what am I ?”. It makes about as much sense as “If you don’t like it, leave”. It has been my experience that people who say the get out thing can only comprehend the simplest solution to any problem. Explaining that trying to change for the better is a concept that is commonly not recognized by many conservative minds.

  6. You got to the heart of the problem. They are cutting off any further conversation.
    Now, I wonder what an effective response might be? Certainly not becoming defensive or victimized. I would love to hear what others say! Thanks in advance.

    • Linda,

      “You might be right” is a useful response.

      Also helpful:
      Allow others the dignity of their own ignorance.
      Not my circus, not my monkeys.
      Stay in your own lane (say this one to your self!)

      You’re dealing with the disease of literalism, the language of tribalism. People that have a systemically erroneous misunderstanding of the nature of the self, of the universe, and of life itself – where the poetry of life is reduced to prose. This all starts with a complete denial of the human condition, thanks to “The Fall” in the garden misunderstood as a planet of sinners who are then sold a gaseous vertebrate savior, who by the way, is found elsewhere! This results in (in the west) an entire species who are gaslit, impotent zombies, pushing a 2nd amendment to feel any sense of power, the power they unknowingly and/or willingly gave away. Thats just stupid. Its artificialism, and is how a 2year old thinks and sees.

      REJECT THE FALL. It is in truth a metaphorical reference – mythological in industry – of the condition of duality of life on earth, which is a tension of opposites, A NECESSITY OF OPPOSITES —– by design. We are luminous beings of transcendence already, all along, by design. The point is unveil, to unveil from our ignorance, which we are never free of as we are in duality. We save ourselves. The “salvation” is a reference to the eternal principle we return to, and which is finding itself in the human journey through our experience. “Born sinners?” Nope. AN IGNORANT MIND REQUIRES CERTAINTY (hence the story of the certainty of salvation).

      I will (poorly!) paraphrase Joseph Campbell:
      “If you are told and made to believe you are a sinner (Propaganda),
      Then hey we’ve got a savior you now need (Cult),
      As we’ve got something to sell.”

      They tell you WHAT to think, rather that HOW to think (this is why conservatives hate education and we have Betsy Devos, to preserve the ignorance of the tribe and the savior. See trump voters). For example, the death of Jesus was to show us our own nature, but some idiots concretized the MESSAGE/EXAMPLE/ANTHROPOMORPHIZATION of transcendence into a LITERAL savior – THERE IS NO TRANSCENDENCE IN THE CONCRETIZED, FOR THE CONCRETIZATION REMOVES THE TRANSCENDENCE ITSELF!!!!
      We ARE that transcendence, which isn’t elsewhere, but here and now.
      WE ARE THE STILL POINT IN THE ETERNAL – WE >>>ARE<<>>>Metaphor is such a treat to tribalism and its’ ignorance.<<<<<

      In a sense, though, they are correct – leave! Go toward the light! You will drive yourself nuts otherwise. A parakeet isn't not a parakeet, so don't try to change it! We are not here to talk about it, but to experience life!
      No one can be MADE to wake up. And often (metaphysically), evolution happens one funeral at a time. They have their own paths, their own personal karma that they arent yet convinced of, for the veils of darkness are keeping the light out and the ignorance in. DO NOT FORGET – THESE PEOPLE ARE WAITING FOR SALVATION ELSEWHERE, AND FEEL OBLIGATED AS SUCH. Deluded by a sense of permanence.


      PS. Dalai Lama wrote 'How To See Yourself As You Really Are'. Its helpful.

      • Followup.

        There can only be certainty when there is an absence of options. And the definition of helplessness is an absence of options. Certainty is helplessness.

        So we see how cunning the silent savior of certainty has been in swooping in and making the otherwise-ignorant believe they are helpless sinners needing said certain savior! Theyre even threatened with a fiery pit (jesus’ version of the 2nd amendment). Yet that darn story of certainty seems so real to the ignorant – they dont have to see themselves. UNAWARE OF IMPERMANENCE!!!!!!<<<<<<<<

    • Also, if you read, try
      “Why People Don’t Heal And How They Can”, from Caroline Myss. (awkward title, don’t let it dissuede). It’s outstanding in composure and disseminatipn of tribalism, individualism, and archetypes.

      Do not rebut the ignorant, stay in the calm within the deep rather than the waves of the surface.

    • There is no “other”. That is the falacy of a uniquely western epistemology. When a separation occurs, the lesson and all meaning is lost.

      We are not separate, but distinct.

      Bring the universal into the particular.

      When an other is created, it is because I am not seeing myself as I really am.

      We are mythic images (like Jesus). A mythic image points Past itself, not To itself. Literalism points to itself, creating an other, just as it ignorantly points to a literal other savior. And metaphor points past itself, points a way. Lieratalism is going to a restaurant and eating the menu, metaphor would be eating the food the menu describes.

      Interdependence is intractable. No two.

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