America, this Coke's for you
Like millions of Americans, I tuned in Sunday to watch the Seattle Seahawks put a giant-sized hurt on the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII. And, like millions of Americans, I was looking forward to the commercials that seem to take precedence over what is arguably the biggest sporting event of the year.
In years past, viewers have been entertained, shocked and at times offended by ads that maybe went a little too far. This year, most companies seemed to make a genuine effort to avoid controversy. Whether going with the sentimental, tug-at-your-heartstrings spot or the American pride-type ad, most commercials seemed fairly tame compared to previous years.
There was one commercial, however, that caused a bit of a stir. Coca Cola, long known for its themed advertisements centered on unity, aired a multicultural spot with “America the Beautiful” sung in seven different languages. A simple message, conveyed through the simplest means, turned explosive as a portion of Americans almost immediately began chanting death to Coca Cola for daring to suggest a language other than English is spoken within the U.S. boarders.
Should we even discuss the multitude of ethnicities living as one nation, under God? Probably not. The sentiment of the ad seemed innocuous enough. People of different nationalities, heritages and traditions living without the viewpoint that everyone different is “other.” But to some, a sliced up, repackaged version of a national tradition was enough to fuel the flames of what it means to be American.
Almost immediately after airing, angry posts appeared on those wonderful social media sites Twitter and Facebook. “Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist’s language. Way to go coke. You can leave America,” read a tweet from one angry viewer.
“Today we are throwing away all our Coca-Cola products and replacing them with Faygo,” the Facebook page for the Tri-County Congregational Church in St. Cloud, Minn. posted. “Faygo represents Christian Values and follows the Constitution. Mexicans singing the National Anthem is an abomination.”
Really? COKE isn’t representing Christian values? I’m not exactly sure how Coca-Cola flouted Christian values or violated the Constitution, and I’m really confused by the “Mexicans singing the National Anthem is an abomination,” declaration. Then again, I suppose I wasn’t paying close enough attention to see all the ways I should have been appalled by this commercial. After all, I didn’t even notice the same-sex couple that took up a good portion of angry posts.
Apparently the fact the United States has no official language, that approximately 60 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English or that there are 381 languages commonly used within the U.S. border is irrelevant. Maybe we should note, too, that of those 381 languages spoken in the U.S., 169 are Native American languages. All of which were spoken in the United States for centuries before English was introduced.
Many of the founding fathers were multilingual. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams all spoke multiple languages. Of the 44 American presidents, at least half were able to speak or write a language other than English. Should we all now be offended by these terrorists? These abominations? Clearly, speaking anything other than English qualifies as anti-American.
These same closed-minded, intolerant individuals claiming offense to the radical idea of multicultural equality in America must surely all be Native American. After all, if not they could hardly claim the idea of “foreigners” as offensive now could they. Other than those with Native American ancestry, we all descend from another nation.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Apparently, for some, this only applies to those whose native language is English, whose skin tone is white, and whose lifestyle falls within unyielding guidelines that seem to change daily.
Maybe those who were so offended by a simple commercial about unity and equality in a nation based on that very principle should reconsider. Maybe the United States, a nation where “all men are created equal,” isn’t the place for the closed-minded, ignorant fear they seem so willing to cling to.
Jannaya Andrews is the associate editor of the Decatur Daily Democrat.