Monday, February 03, 2014 • 1:02 PM Comments (11)

In which we fix "America the Beautiful" for Republicans

posted by James Heflin

I despise television advertising. I'm convinced watching the stuff lowers your IQ within seconds. However, the conservative collective freakout over Coca-Cola's "America the Beautiful" ad is entertainment of the first water. No absurd conclusion remains unjumped.

The ad is puerile nonsense, full of the kind of over-baked unreal sentiment that only the advertising world can paint with lipstick and pass off as plausible. There are many reasons to not like it, including that Coke is a nutritional timebomb. The fact that people sing the song in -gasp- different languages, however, is what's really bad. Really, really bad.

How bad? Well, just read it for yourself (at Breitbart)--

As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned, however, the United States of America is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution and American traditions in which English is the language of government. It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty. It is instead a nation governed by some all inclusive multi-cultural synthesis of the various forms of government in the world...

And, of course, there's this:

The ad also prominently features a gay couple.

The utter howler, however, goes to Allen West:

I’m watching the Super Bowl, looks like good defense (Seattle) is trouncing good offense (Denver) when a Coca Cola commercial came on and it started rather patriotically with the words of “America the Beautiful.”

Then the words went from English to languages I didn’t recognize.

Scandalous, I say! I have, however, decided to rectify the situation for these alarmists. Here you are, fellows--"America the Beautiful," restored to American:

If the Republican party wants the votes of anyone who has yet to yell "you kids get off my lawn," they may have to reconsider doubling down on the 19th century.

Although the entertainment value has skyrocketed. This is spectacular material. It also really ought to help a lot with this. For at least one election. Maybe.

Comments (11)
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Hate to interrupt the sactimonious backlash by the tolerant left against the extreme reactions .... but there IS a larger point to all of this, not that you are interested in recognizing it.

This commercial rubbed many the wrong way because of the current debate in this country about the responsibility of immigrants to assimilate. Our country became great because we are a nation of immigrants and those immigrants came to this country and assimilated... and the most important part of assimilation is to learn the language of the majority.

Whether we formally call it official or not, English is the language of this country and it SHOULD be something that unites us all. Instead we irrationally try to adapt to every language and culture that migrates here rather than set the expectation that those that come here should learn the one common language we were founded on. Further, any language barrier only serves to divide rather than unite.

Think about it, it would be completely nonsensical for you to move to a foreign country to live permanently and choose not to learn the language of the majority. Not only is it disrespectful but it would most likely reduce your opportunity for success. The better commercial would have been to hear English sung in accents from all over the world. That would represent people from all countries coming to America to unite as one American culture.

Focusing on either extreme masks the valid discussion in the middle. That said, this commercial was designed to spark this exact debate and you fell for it hook line sinker.

Posted by Ben on 2.4.14 at 10:02

Hey Ben/Joe/?--been a while! Hope you're well.

This ad does not make the point you are arguing against. That's why the conservative reaction is quite strange. That interpretation seems quite far-fetched. It's a given across the political spectrum that English is the default language of the U.S., and learning it is necessary to living here. Celebrating other languages and cultures doesn't in any way negate that.

I've lived in another culture, and learned to get by in the native tongue. People were often helpful as I learned, and they often wanted to speak English. They seemed perfectly secure in their Swiss-French identity and language all the while. It's weird to me that such a formula is a problem to anyone. We should not be that insecure.

I think it bears noting that the ad was not designed to spark an immigration debate--it was designed to sell Coke. That's why I didn't embed the video.

cheers!

Posted by JH on 2.4.14 at 10:24

Let's try it this way. In what country did you live and did you sing their traditional national songs in English? If not, why not?

Posted by Ben on 2.4.14 at 11:09

Well, good sir, the answer to where I lived is contained in the post above if you read the whole thing. I never sang a national song there, not in any language. However, they have four national languages, so I daresay it wouldn't much matter to them what you chose.

It's an ad, so this argument is really spurious. They sang the song to say they're all patriotic and international and stuff and hey, buy some sugar water.

Posted by JH on 2.4.14 at 11:17

But would you have chosen to sing it in a language other than their four national languages?

Here's the point. If you agree that learning English is important to assimilating into American culture, how is singing an English song in your native tongue a fitting gesture of patriotism?

By the way..."English is the default language of the U.S., and learning it is necessary to living here."

...if this is true then why is naming English our official language such a controversial subject? You can't have it both ways... either this is a contentious topic or it isn't.

Posted by Ben on 2.4.14 at 11:31

English is our de facto official language. That's not controversial. I think officializing it is utterly unnecessary unless it's legislation to make xenophobic people feel good about their tribe. No chaos will ensue. Just ask the Swiss, in any of their four official languages.

In Europe, people don't get so absurdly caught up in this kind of language phobia--I can't imagine anyone would get their knickers in a twist about what language something was sung in. They tend to actually understand more than one. But again--it doesn't matter. This was a commercial, not some official function. It's wasted energy.

Been fun, but I must be off to write (in English)...

Posted by JH on 2.4.14 at 12:12

One last addition: You say "If you agree that learning English is important to assimilating into American culture, how is singing an English song in your native tongue a fitting gesture of patriotism?"

That's solely a subjective matter of opinion. I think it's kind of cool and entirely fitting, myself. Doesn't mean the person is out to offend you by not learning your language. Heck, maybe they know both. We are a poorer nation for having a monolingual citizenry.

Posted by JH on 2.4.14 at 12:34

"We are a poorer nation for having a monolingual citizenry."

Therein lies the contradiction. Either language is very important or it isn't. You believe learning another language is imperative in order to truly understand other cultures. That's fine... but that also means that speaking English is a very important step to assimilating into American culture.

So again... how is singing a culture's song in your native language a sign of your appreciation of that culture?

Posted by Ben on 2.4.14 at 12:46

You got it. Good luck working out that contradiction.

To recap, singing the American song in English with varying accents would be a much better symbol of unity as a culture. But your ideology won't allow you to do anything but defend multiculturalism at the expense of true unity.

Posted by Ben on 2.4.14 at 16:35

"We colonized an already-occupied North America."

haha... way to keep the discussion productive, Jim. You are an unserious person and that's the problem. Your idealogy doesn't allow you to have a rational discussion and you'll take it to absurd places. Yet I continue to try from time to time... shame on me.

But yes... solid point - there was fighting involved in the establishment of basically every country in history. I'll take as a win the fact that you had to revert back to this argument. However, English is on our currency and documents and the language of our government, and is what's relevent to this discussion.

Posted by Ben on 2.12.14 at 13:28

JH - IP Sleuth (Because it's relevent!)

Posted by Ben on 2.13.14 at 16:10
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