E Pluribus Cola
Coca-Cola commercial leads to melting pot dissociation
Published: Sunday, February 9, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 20:02
An advertisement by an American corporate icon meant to mark the cultural diversity that has made this nation great has brought out the ugliest of American xenophobia.
The commercial ran during the Super Bowl and featured a multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful,” accompanying a disparate series of vacuous videos – people running and smiling, dancing, drinking coke. The otherwise innocuous celebration of American culture and cola has sparked controversy.
Following the ad, social media erupted with irate tweets condemning the performance of the patriotic American tune in multiple languages. The hashtag #SpeakAmerican began trending soon after the ad aired.
Never mind that the song was written by an Englishwoman for a nation made up nearly entirely of immigrants or their descendents.
The ensuing dispute on the place of linguistic difference in this nation is simply the most recent manifestation of a long-running debate. Calls for English to be the official language of the United States are hardly new; narrow-mindedness has plagued this nation since its inception.
Language is often associated with the nation or area from which it originates – a culturally laden source of community and understanding between a group. That the United States would allow and embrace a variety of languages is something to be appreciated.
The truism “diversity makes us great” is taught to American children at the earliest age. That a small group of adults have presumably not learned this, and actively contested it, is worrisome.
Patriotism almost necessitates a level of defensiveness, a desire to protect what aspects of a nation makes it great and worth taking pride in.
This advertisement, depicting the rich variety of our nation – the one mainstay of the United States since its formation and for centuries before – should be upheld as evidence of exactly what we should be patriotic about.
Differences, beyond just coexisting, actively coalesce to form the fabric of this country. This is exactly what we should defend, protect and promote as the symbol of our union from those who seek to impinge on it.
Though detractors are likely far from the majority, social media has a way of bringing otherwise unseen national issues to the fore. Social media empowers cynics and gives a soapbox to critics, as inflammatory viewpoints are thrown into the spotlight.
But what they promote is not Americanism, patriotism or even defense of what was – it is bred from fear of difference and is exactly the bigotry that is un-American.
“The message we’re sending through this video is so beautiful, that we are all the same. We’re all Americans, and we can come together to make change,” said Sushmitha, one of the vocalists in the commercial, in an interview.
Her statement could not ring more true. Our cultural differences blending with a common sense of our humanity is what has always made America beautiful. The change necessary now is against detracting from that.