Coke’s controversial “America The Beautiful” Commercial

Some comments about Coke’s Super Bowl Ad from Coke-Cola’s Facebook page:

You should be ashamed of that commercial. Ill never buy another coke product again.

Offensive and a diss to America the Beautiful!

Ashamed, disappointed. Bad choice, Coke! I’ve been a LONG time fan. Guess I’m looking for a new soda.

really really really disappointed at Coke may have to quit buying Coke

Have been pro coke all my life. I will never buy another coke product! NEVER

I’ve been buying Coke for 40 years and you just lost my business! That ad was insulting to American patriots.

And the ad itself:

Use this thread to discuss the subject, but also to discuss the Super Bowl, other Super Bowl ads, links to ads you liked (or thought were bad in an interesting way), etc..

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63 Responses to Coke’s controversial “America The Beautiful” Commercial

  1. 1
    Ben Lehman says:

    I am reminded of the excellent if you’re tired of Coke you’re tired of America

    yrs–
    –Ben

  2. 2
    Jake Squid says:

    They’re not going to buy Coke because Coca-Cola produced (yet another) crappy ad for the Super Bowl? What I wonder is when Coca-Cola will stop trying to reproduce the hit that was I’d Like to Give the World a Coke. It’s been over 40 years and they haven’t managed to do it, yet. Perhaps it’s time to move on to something else.

    In other news, people looking to be offended at the sketchiest possibility of the dominant paradigm being insulted are offended at thing that isn’t exactly to their specifications. Details at 11.

  3. 3
    lkeke35 says:

    Hmmm, that’s what it sounds like to me too.

    Coca Cola is a global business. I don’t think they’re going to be upset by a handful of American people who are mad because they didn’t see themselves represented in the commercial. Those people may be offset by people who did, though.(Then again, it matters to this WoC not one wit, as I don’t drink soda.)

  4. 4
    delurking says:

    Not a big fan of Coke myself, but I thought it was a beautiful ad.

  5. 5
    NomadUK says:

    Always hated that song, haven’t drunk Coke for a very long time, and find the people who are complaining about the advert utterly contemptible. Oh, and I can’t stand the Superbowl, either.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    I pretty much swore off pop/soda a few years ago – and found myself much healthier for it.

    I did wonder why they would have people singing “America the Beautiful” in foreign languages. Seems odd. The overwhelming number of people watching that ad would be a) American and b) English speakers. Why would they think that presenting a patriotic song in foreign languages would appeal to Americans?

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, the US has no official language. Therefore, the US has no foreign languages. All of the languages used in the commercial (English, Spanish, Hindi, Senegalese-French, Hebrew, Mandarin, Keres, Arabic, and Filipino) are spoken by Americans.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Why would they think that presenting a patriotic song in foreign languages would appeal to Americans?

    BTW, Ron, Coke’s commercial is on many “best Superbowl ad” lists and seems to have been a success for Coke – they’ve even announced that they’ll be expanding the commercial from 60 to 90 seconds and broadcasting it during the Olympic opening ceremonies next week. So apparently it does appeal to many Americans. @AshleyKarlsson on twitter summed up the appeal, for many who did find it appealing:

    Thanks @CocaCola for reminding us that we are beautiful because of and not in spite of our linguistic diversity.

    During the Duck Dynasty kerfluffle, many Conservatives suggested (correctly) that liberals shouldn’t assume that what they enjoy is what all Americans enjoy. Conservatives, likewise, shouldn’t assume that their preferences represent the entire USA. Right?

  9. 9
    Tristan says:

    The majority of US states (27 or 28 / 50) have adopted English as the official language, Hawaii has adopted English and Hawaiian.

  10. 10
    Jake Squid says:

    Why would they think that presenting a patriotic song in foreign languages would appeal to Americans?

    Because one of the great things about America is the melting pot thing we’ve heard so much about?
    Because one of the great things about America is the contributions of immigrants?

    I still think it was a crappy ad, but I can’t see how it could possibly be offensive to those who value patriotism.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    It’s interesting that I’ve seen no one objecting to the gay parents in the ad (the first Super Bowl ad ever to show a gay couple). Maybe the sort of folks who’d object to that just didn’t watch the ad that long?

  12. 12
    Ann Queue says:

    Ron, the US census long form asks what languages are spoken at home. The year I happened to get picked for the long form, I enjoyed telling them we spoke two languages, English and German. The US has many, many multicultural homes, and many of them will tell you proudly and happily why they’ve chosen this country to live in. Doesn’t mean they renounce their first language. One of the reasons I choose to be here is because of this ‘melting pot’, better termed a ‘salad bowl’. I feel it’s one of our greatest strengths.

    So while I can’t stand the conglomerate that is Coke, the ad appeals to me.

    Ampersand, I wonder if folks *are* objecting to the gay parents… they just say they’re upset, they don’t explain why. I didn’t even notice them! Now I’ll have to watch it again.

    And I sure like “America the Beautiful” better than “The Star Spangled Banner”.

  13. 13
    Sebastian says:

    I watched the commercial with two dozen people, only two of which were born in the States, and even they are second/third generation and married to immigrants. By the way, the commercials were watched by almost everyone. More people were around the ping-pong table than near the TV the rest of the time.

    A very diverse company, and the original reaction was heavily more negative than positive.

    First, there was the obvious, considering the crowd, which was half Slavic: six to eight percent of the US population is Slavic, and there was no Slavic language. They spent half a hour designing a line that would appeal to both Northern and Southern Slavs, and came up with something that was OK by the Pole, Russian, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Slovenian, and Croats. The Bosnian felt excluded, but I’m sure Coke could do better. So for most people in the room, the ad was very exclusive – as usual, it is about honoring the popular and visible minorities, and dumping on the Slavs (direct quote)

    Then we played the add a few times and tried to identify the languages, and we could not pin one (Keres, according to Amp, and we had bet it was a Native American one) , but we had a speaker for every other one… one of our Persians speak Arabic, one of the Jews and her husband speak Hebrew, pretty much everyone groks Spanish, and I’ve heard a lot of patois sénégalais in my teenage years. And yet, somehow, Coke managed not to hit a single native language from our group.

    But it was kind of the event of the day, and after an hour, we actually felt pretty good about it. After all America is a melting pot, and considering the company, inclusiveness is good, even if the execution fell quite far from the intent.

    And then someone had to ask “How would you feel if Mer Hayrenik (the Armenian anthem) was sang in Turkish on National TV”? It was all downhill from there.

  14. 14
    Ruchama says:

    The reaction from my friends was mostly “I thought it was beautiful. Isn’t that what our country is all about?” (This group of friends is mostly American-born and English-speaking, but almost all of them have at least one parent or grandparent who spoke something other than English as their first language.)

  15. 15
    Jake Squid says:

    And, of course, The Onion

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Many people immigrate into this country speaking a language other than English, and I know quite a few myself – mostly from Central Europe (and Slavic-based languages). My observation is the same as what numerous studies have shown, which is that where more than one language is spoken in a home, it’s the immigrant who speaks it. Their children speak little of that language (except for perhaps Spanish in certain communities) and the next generation none at all. Sure, in a country of 330 million people that welcomes immigrants you’ll have a number of people who speak non-English languages, but in proportion to the population as a whole it’s not a lot of people.

    English may not have legal status as the U.S.’s official language, but it is the native language in the U.S. Any other language is a foreign language and you’re going to have a hell of a time getting around the U.S. and just about zero chance of making a living wage (and certainly not a professional level one) if you don’t speak, read and write English.

    I didn’t take offense at the Coke commerical. I was in Japan during the 2004 Olympics at an international Venture Scouting event that encompassed all the countries touching the Pacific Ocean and the countries near them. A group of us were watching the Olympics at one point and one of the non-Americans offered the opinion that he (or she, I forget) could identify the country that a given competitor came from just by looking at their faces, without seeing their uniform. The particular issue was distinguishing among Chinese, Japanese or Korean. I offered up the observation “Well, they COULD be Chinese, Japanese or Korean – or, they could all be Americans.”

    Was it highly ranked? In the Chicago Trib story ranking of the Superbowl commericals they basically said “Meh – they’ve been looking to duplicate ‘We want to teach the world to sing’ for years now and haven’t hit yet.”

  17. 17
    Myca says:

    English may not have legal status as the U.S.’s official language, but it is the native language in the U.S. Any other language is a foreign language

    Untrue, of course, but I’m sure you knew that when you wrote it.

    Anyway, who the hell do you think you are walking around speaking English in Illinois when there’s a perfectly good language like American around?

    —Myca

  18. 18
    Paul says:

    The super bowl Coke add was offensive to to this 70 year old American.
    America the Beautiful is a revered song and all who want to be Americans should want to sing it in English to demonstrate that they want to be American.
    No more Coke for my family unless Coke apologizes to those who are American and those who want to be American. Those who want to be American can demonstrate they want be American by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem and America the Beautiful in English.

  19. 19
    RonF says:

    The other thing about singing “America the Beautiful” in a series of foreign languages is that what we ended up with was a very nice montage of people in America – but with the song itself completely obscured, since almost no one could understand the lyrics.

    Ron, the US has no official language. Therefore, the US has no foreign languages.

    Amp, I don’t see where the logic is in this sentence. What connection does the fact that the U.S. has no official language have with the concept of what constitutes a foreign language in the U.S.? That makes no sense to me.

  20. 20
    Ampersand says:

    Given how familiar “American the Beautiful” is, I don’t see how that matters. It’s not like this commercial was the only opportunity people have to hear the song.

  21. 21
    RonF says:

    Myca:

    Untrue, of course, but I’m sure you knew that when you wrote it.

    Untrue, of course? Apparently so untrue that you feel no need to explain why you think it’s untrue, you simply assert that I was lying.

    Anyway, who the hell do you think you are walking around speaking English in Illinois when there’s a perfectly good language like American around?

    Yet another example of how Springfield, Ill. (our State capital) is a fount of bullshit. I bet if you look hard enough you can find a resolution proclaiming that pi = 3.

  22. 22
    Jake Squid says:

    I’m with Amp re: the lyrics. If you heard “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” sung in Swahili, would your brain not fill in the lyrics in your native tongue? If you’re a Patriotic American(tm), surely your brain was filling in the words to “America the Beautiful”. If it wasn’t, your Patriotic Americanism(tm) is a big fake.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum from Patriotic American(tm), Paul, I will never buy a Coca-Cola product again if they apologize to faux patriots over their ad. If they want to apologize for yet another transparent attempt to replicate the success of “I’d Like to Give the World a Coke,” I will not object.

  23. English may not have legal status as the U.S.’s official language, but it is the native language in the U.S.

    I am going to assume, Ron, that by “native” you really mean “dominant” or “standard,” since there are a significant number of children of immigrants whose first (native) languages were not English, who still speak those languages with “native fluency,” and who are also “natively fluent” in English, which is actually their second language.

    The distinction is important not just because, especially given the politics of language, it’s important to use a term like “native language” with some precision, but also because terms like “dominance” and “standardness” get at what is at stake here in a way that the question of whether English is the “native” language of the US does not.

    When I was studying linguistics, one of my professors asked us to define the difference between a language and a dialect. He let us struggle unsuccessfully for some time and then said, “A language is a dialect with an army,” the point being that the particular dialect of any given language that is understood to be the standard of a culture is the standard only because it is backed up by real political and even military power.

    I realize we are talking here, in terms of the Coke commercial, about actual languages and not a language and dialect, but the principle is the same. It is astonishing to me that anyone would realistically think that a Coca Cola commercial could at all threaten the status of English as the dominant, standard language in the United States. In fact, the commercial only works as a poignant reminder of our diversity because of English’s status as the dominant and standard language.

    I am reminded of the people who, when the found out we were speaking primarily Persian to my son when he was very young, warned that he would grow up speaking English with an accent or that he wouldn’t learn to speak as well as a native speaker. Leaving aside their entirely excusable ignorance of how sponge-like children actually are when it comes to learning languages, I was always impressed that what really motivated these warnings was their fear that we were somehow undermining American culture and that I, specifically, as the American, was somehow betraying who I was and where I came from not just by acknowledging, but embodying myself, and publicly, the fact that my son had, by definition, roots somewhere else.

  24. 24
    Ruchama says:

    Yeah, when I was watching the commercial, the English lyrics were playing along in my head, and I had a couple of “Oh, cool!” moments when I was able to identify a word or two of the other languages.

    A side conversation I’ve noticed coming out of this is discussions of how removed, or not, different people are from immigration. I grew up in the suburbs of NYC. In third grade, our social studies curriculum was a look at communities. We identified the stuff that every community would have — people, clothes, food, places where the people live, some system of buying/selling or trading stuff, a way of educating the kids, some kind of government, and so on — and then studied a bunch of different communities, all over the world, including our own town, and looked at how each of them did the things in those general categories. At the end of the year, we had a party, where our mothers came in (just about all of us had stay-at-home mothers, and most of the rest were able to take a morning off from work), and we performed songs and dances and poems and stuff from the different places we’d studied. Each mother was supposed to bring in potluck dish, and the instructions were something like “bring a food from your culture” or “bring a food from the place that your family is from” or something like that. And nobody thought these instructions were weird, and just about everybody brought in a food from some other country. Lots of Italian and Irish foods, several Eastern European Jewish foods, several Japanese foods, a couple of other Asian countries, several other European countries. I was describing this to a friend of mine who grew up in a small town in the Midwest, and she said that something like that would have been impossible at her elementary school — just about all of the kids were white, with some combination of English/Irish/Scottish/German/Scandinavian ancestry, whose families had been in the US for as long as anyone living could remember. A few years later, in fifth grade, we had a project where we had to interview an immigrant and write a report about their experience coming to the US. A pretty significant portion of us interviewed our parents or grandparents, and the rest of the kids had no trouble finding someone to interview. My friend said that, when she was a kid, she didn’t think there were enough immigrants around for every fifth grader to interview a different one.

  25. 25
    RonF says:

    Jake:

    Sure, I know the words. But then, I was educated in a public school when the men and women who fought WW II were on local school boards, though. How many people in the target demographic of 18 – 35 know the words, I wonder? Are school children still taught “America the Beautiful” in schools to the point that they’ve got it memorized 10 and 15 years later? I honestly don’t know. I can’t get the kids in the Troop to sing ANYTHING.

    Richard:

    It is astonishing to me that anyone would realistically think that a Coca Cola commercial could at all threaten the status of English as the dominant, standard language in the United States.

    Me too. Where was that question raised? I missed it.

    I am going to assume, Ron, that by “native” you really mean “dominant” or “standard,”

    There’s actually an interesting treatment of what constitutes a foreign language in Wikipedia An excerpt:

    A foreign language is a language indigenous to another country. It is also a language not spoken in the native country of the person referred to, i.e. an English speaker living in Japan can say that Japanese is a foreign language to him or her. These two characterisations do not exhaust the possible definitions, however, and the label is occasionally applied in ways that are variously misleading or factually inaccurate.

    Examples are made of the fact that on an individual basis, a language is not foreign to that person if they learned it as a child (as per, for example, your teaching of Persian to your child). But on an overall societial basis, the following sounds logical to me:

    “In a broad sense, any language learned after one has learnt one’s native language [is called second language]. However, when contrasted with foreign language, the term refers more narrowly to a language that plays a major role in a particular country or region though it may not be the first language of many people who use it. For example, the learning of English by immigrants in the US or the learning of Catalan by speakers of Spanish in Catalonia (an autonomous region of Spain) are cases of second (not foreign) language learning, because those languages are necessary for survival in those societies. English is also a second language for many people in countries like Nigeria, India, Singapore and the Philippines (plus Spanish), because English fulfills many important functions in those countries (including the business of education and government) and Learning English is necessary to be successful within that context. (Some people in these countries however may acquire English as a first language, if it is the main language used at home).”

    They also define a “foreign language” as a language which is not the native language of large numbers of people in a particular country of region, is not used as a medium of instruction in schools and is not widely used as a medium of communication in government, media etc. They note that foreign languages are typically taught as school subjects for the purpose of communicating with foreigners or for reading printed materials in the language (Richards and Schmidt, 2002: 206).

    The article goes on. On the basis of how I read it English would be the native (since overwhelmingly that’s the language and the only language that children learn at home) and dominant language in the United States, and pretty much every other language (with Spanish being an interesting topic for discussion) would be a foreign one. It seems quite odd to me to say that there is no such thing as a foreign language in the U.S.

  26. 26
    Ruchama says:

    How many people in the target demographic of 18 – 35 know the words, I wonder?

    I’m within that demographic, and I know the words. We sang it plenty of times in elementary school. Searching YouTube just found me a ton of videos of kids singing it at school concerts.

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    Ruchama, as you note a lot of that would be a function of where one lives/lived. If you live in an urban setting or in a suburban setting near a major city it would be remarkable if you did NOT know a number of people who were either immigrants or children thereof. But there’s plenty of places in the U.S. in rural areas and not-so-close suburban areas (or suburban areas near smaller cities, I should think) where that’s not so.

    And I bet that if you did a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of that and overlaid that with GOP vs. Democrat voting patterns, you’d find a correlation ….

  28. 28
    Jake Squid says:

    How many people in the target demographic of 18 – 35 know the words, I wonder? Are school children still taught “America the Beautiful” in schools to the point that they’ve got it memorized 10 and 15 years later? I honestly don’t know.

    Did you even bother to try to find the answer before push-polling your opinion?
    *** crickets ***

  29. 29
    Jake Squid says:

    And I bet that if you did a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of that and overlaid that with GOP vs. Democrat voting patterns, you’d find a correlation ….

    I agree. I’d bet you’d find that immigrants tend not to vote for the vociferously anti-immigrant/xenophobic party.

  30. 30
    Ampersand says:

    Did you even bother to try to find the answer before push-polling your opinion?
    *** crickets ***

    Dial it back a couple of notches, please.

  31. 31
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, what’s your take on why thousands of conservatives are infuriated by this ad? Do you understand the fury?

    (I realize not all conservatives are infuriated by it, of course – but I think it’s a safe bet that most of the people infuriated by it are conservatives.)

  32. 32
    Myca says:

    On the basis of how I read it English would be the native (since overwhelmingly that’s the language and the only language that children learn at home) and dominant language in the United States, and pretty much every other language (with Spanish being an interesting topic for discussion) would be a foreign one.

    If you are born in Puerto Rico, the odds are overwhelming that you will speak Spanish very nearly exclusively. You will also be a US citizen.

    Though there is a now a nation in which Hebrew is the official language, there was not always, and I think it’s primary association is still with the Jewish people rather than with Israel proper. That is, I know a lot of people who speak Hebrew, and few of them have ever been to Israel. Unless we’re willing to call American Jews ‘foreign,’ I think it’s awfully sketchy to call Hebrew foreign.

    I can go into it with some of the others too … my general point is that, though I wouldn’t go as far as Ampersand in saying that there are no foreign languages, America contains multitudes, and that’s a good thing.

    —Myca

  33. 33
    closetpuritan says:

    I’m willing to say that for some definitions of “foreign language”, America does have foreign languages. I’m not sure that defining a native language as “a language that was the first language of someone born in that country” is a useful way to do it–it’s pretty far from common usage of the term “foreign language”, in any event.

    By this definition of “foreign language”:
    A foreign language is a language indigenous to another country
    English is a foreign language in the US. It did not originate in the New World at all.

    If a native language must be dominant or spoken widely in order to count as “native”, and the only categories are “native language” and “foreign language”, Native American languages are “foreign languages” in the US. (You could also bring in a third category, “dead languages”, but I think that’s a little premature in this case.)

    On that note, I suspect what Myca was getting at with “untrue, but I’m sure you knew that when you wrote it” was that by any sensible definition, Native American languages are native languages of the US, not foreign languages. Which, like Myca, I’m sure you knew, but forgot to take into account at the time you wrote that.

    If we’re looking primarily at how long communities speaking the language have existed in the US, and less at predominance, in addition to Native
    American languages, Spanish and French have been spoken in the US for about as long as English. (There were Acadians/Cajuns in Louisiana before the start of the American Revolution. In 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded San Agustín (St. Augustine) which is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in any U.S. state.)

    I’m in the ‘target demographic’, and I do know the words to the first verse of ‘America the Beautiful’. I can remember fragments of second. I had to learn those verses for an elementary school concert, and heard the first verse off and on over the years enough to still remember it. (My memory for song lyrics is pretty good, though.)

  34. 34
    Myca says:

    Yes! Native Languages! Dammit, that’s absolutely one of the things I was thinking of when I made the comment, and forgot about when I wrote the follow-up.

    I’m in the ‘target demographic’, and I do know the words to the first verse of ‘America the Beautiful’.

    I’m not in the target demographic, but I’m not far out of it, and I know the words, and have for a long time. It’s so nice to sing a patriotic song that’s about the beauty of the country, and not about war and guns and shit.

    —Myca

  35. 35
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    RonF says:
    Are school children still taught “America the Beautiful” in schools to the point that they’ve got it memorized 10 and 15 years later?

    Mine are/were. And for Memorial Day they also learned all four of the armed services songs and sang them in a school concert.

    And we sing “America” at home, though being me I have a tendency to sing “god shed her grace on thee.”

    Trust me on this: I live in one of the more liberal places around. So I am not writing from Soldierville.

  36. 36
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    On that note, I suspect what Myca was getting at with “untrue, but I’m sure you knew that when you wrote it” was that by any sensible definition, Native American languages are native languages of the US, not foreign languages.

    ?

    The US is a political entity and not a geographic land mass. And of course the US was–to put it mildly–not designed to incorporate the various Native American tribes, but rather to exclude them. Unlike English, Native American languages are native languages of the Americas. Similarly, unlike English, they’re they’re not native languages of the United States even though they are (and were) spoken within its boundaries.

    If we’re looking primarily at how long communities speaking the language have existed in the US, and less at predominance,

    That’s an interesting measure but not the one which applies here, I don’t think.

    The United States-as-entity differs from the Native Americans, and settlers, and British Colonies. Its formative documents were wholly written in English, and all formal communications at the government level were (until fairly recently) conducted only in English–given that the country treated NAs as enemies, it doesn’t seem sensible to assign their language to the country as a whole.

  37. 37
    Abbe Faria says:

    At first I was bemused by the furious response, but Paul has opened my eyes.

    Imagine. You’re listening to the 9th and then, they start singing in English. Or Nessun Dorma, but when they get to ‘Ma il mio mistero chiuso in me’ they suddenly switch to Spanish. Or La Marseillaise strikes up, in German. It would be an absolute violation. You couldn’t change the language without destroying the beauty of the music, now I appreciate the context I can quite empathise with the anger.

  38. 38
    Grace Annam says:

    Abbe Faria:

    It would be an absolute violation.

    I hope that’s hyperbole. Can no work of art, even a superb work of art, ever be repurposed into another work of art to make a different statement?

    Just to take one at random which popped into my head: I’ve seen Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” used all over the place. Seeing it thus does not violate the original work; rather, it riffs off of the original work to make a statement.

    Had Coca-Cola repurposed, say, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, it would have been a very different statement, and a lot of people would have reacted with “huh?”. People reacted differently to this, but so far I haven’t heard anyone say, “huh?” Which makes it a success on some level, as a work of art.

    As a commercial, probably, too; I drink Coke hardly at all, and I’m never sure which other soda types belong to which soda maker, so the net result of this add and the reaction to it is that I have thought about Coke more in the last two days than the last two months.

    RonF:

    The other thing about singing “America the Beautiful” in a series of foreign languages is that what we ended up with was a very nice montage of people in America – but with the song itself completely obscured, since almost no one could understand the lyrics.

    I’d be with the people for whom the lyrics played along in my head, in English … except that I was having too much fun playing “Spot the Language”.

    The song might have been partially obscured for people who don’t know the first verse, but I think most people would recognize it well enough to ID it from the tune and the first two lines in English.

    Paul:

    America the Beautiful is a revered song and all who want to be Americans should want to sing it in English to demonstrate that they want to be American.

    What about those of us who are already American? Is it okay if we want to try singing it in other languages than the one it was written in? (Maybe we think it’s an interesting exercise in broadmindedness. Maybe we are trying to learn another language, and it helps to sing beloved, familiar songs in the target language. Maybe we want to make a statement about welcoming immigrants to our wonderful nation. Maybe we have another reason.)

    Or must we STILL sing it in English to demonstrate that we STILL want to be American? In which case, your opinion of my desire to be American would seem to be a woefully fragile thing. (Fortunately, I seldom care about someone else’s opinion of my desire to be American.)

    RonF again:

    or, they could all be Americans.

    :D Well done, Ron!

    Finally, I can’t resist this quote for the sheer, delicious, over-the-top irony:

    The company used such an iconic song, one often sung in churches on the 4th of July that represents the old ‘E Pluribus Unum’ view of how American society is integrated, to push multiculturalism down our throats.

    –Michael Leahy

    Well, Michael, I suppose if you don’t want multiculturalism pushed down your throat, you could always change the channel away from the SuperBowl to something more, um, mainstream American…

    Grace

  39. 39
    Marcus the Confused says:

    I haven’t the time to read all of the responses on this thread so, if my thoughts duplicate another’s . . . that just means great minds think alike!

    First, let me say that I loved the commercial. It was absolutely beautiful and a fantastic demonstration of our national motto: “out of many, one.”

    In all the huffing and puffing that I’ve heard over various social media and the internet there seems to be a presumption coming from those who insist that immigrants to America should learn to speak English. The presumption is that they don’t speak English in addition to whatever language the were raised on.

    There is nothing in that commercial that says “all these people speaking in different languages can’t speak English.” The actual, unspoken, complaint seems to be “difference frightens me, the other frightens me.” I know most of them wouldn’t admit it but I remain convinced that it is so.

    I really do not understand the offence some people take to hearing another language spoken even when it does not directly affect them. Sure, if I were to move to France it would behoove me to learn French. It would certainly make my daily interaction with the majority of people easier. But there is no reason why I would have to give up English entirely. I would continue to use English when speaking to old friends or to family. I would use English when singing my favorite songs. If some of the locals took offence at that . . . too bad.

    My attitude is that I speak what I speak, I write the way I write. If others, in their arrogant belief in their own superiority, get all bent out of shape, I don’t care. I do not need, nor do I desire, anyone else’s approval to speak what I speak.

    I both expect and demand this respect from others and therefore I must grant the same respect to others. So go ahead Americans! Sing your songs! Sing whatever songs you want! Sing them in whatever language you want. It won’t bother me a bit. In fact I will probably enjoy it (unless, you know, you’re singing outside my bedroom window at three in the morning). If it bothers anyone else . . . well tough shit for them.

  40. 40
    Grace Annam says:

    Further commentary here.

    Text: “With Coke airing a multilingual ad celebrating diversity and Pepsi being an outspoken advocate for gay rights, what beverage is left for the Right-Wing to drink? May we suggest a tall, cool glass of unfiltered West Virginia tap water?”

    Yowza.

    Grace

  41. 41
    RonF says:

    Amp:

    Ron, what’s your take on why thousands of conservatives are infuriated by this ad? Do you understand the fury?

    I really don’t know. As I noted, my reaction was one of puzzlement rather than distaste or anger. It was not a big deal on any of the blogs I hang on out. I didn’t know that there was any controversy until I saw this thread.

    I just searched Free Republic using “coke”, “superbowl” and both together and did not find a thread on this. That’s not a blog I hang out on, but it’s a good one to find the (shall I say) more excitable end of the conservative spectrum. What does pop up a lot is Scarlett Johannsen’s condemnation by Oxfam for doing the Sodastream commercial, so there were threads on the Superbowl ads.

    It’s a big country. There’s 330,000,000 of us or so. “Thousands” may seem like a big number, but not so much that it constitutes a big percentage of those people identifying with conservative philosophy in part or in whole. You can get thousands of people lit up by just about anything in this country. That doesn’t mean that it’s got an appreciable percentage of any particular group’s attention or adherence. Multiculturalism does not have a good reputation in conservative circles, so maybe that’s it.

    closetpuritan:

    The various definitions of “indigenous” I’ve pulled up all tend to be along the lines of “originating or occurring naturally in a particular place”. My guess is that the writer – if they actually knew the definition of the word – was intending the “occurring naturally” rather than “originating” inflection. If you grow up in the U.S. you are pretty much going to learn English as your first language. That would make it the native language here, not a foreign one.

    Abbe and Grace:

    I sing in my church choir and with two other groups. I’ve sung quite a bit of music, both sacred and secular, that was written in Danish, French, German, Hebrew, Latin and Spanish. Heck, I’ve even had to learn how to sing “Silent Night” in the original German. Suggestions that we sing a translation instead is generally met with the attitude that Abbe voiced.

    one often sung in churches on the 4th of July

    #719 in The Episcopal Church’s 1982 hymnal (which is the current one), for those of you who would like to see or sing a 4-part harmonized version. It’s at the very end along with “God Bless Our Native Land”, “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” (same tune), “God of our Fathers”, and the National Anthem. They don’t get sung much and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next time the hymnal is revised some of the far left element in TEC (and that would be pretty far left) will want them struck out.

    “With Coke airing a multilingual ad celebrating diversity and Pepsi being an outspoken advocate for gay rights, what beverage is left for the Right-Wing to drink?”

    My personal favorite is Bushmills’ 21-year-old Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Rather pricey, I must admit, but a standing order for Fathers’ Day, Christmas and my birthday covers me (and if both my son and my daughter buy me the same gift for any of those occasions, so much the better). Although I heartily recommend it to my left-wing friends as well.

  42. 42
    Grace Annam says:

    RonF:

    Suggestions that we sing a translation instead is generally met with the attitude that Abbe voiced.

    Oh, broadly speaking, I prefer the originals, too. O Tannenbaum, for instance, is better in German, and I don’t speak German. (Why, translate them all, and you’re in an all-English scenario. Clearly we don’t want that!)

    That said, sometimes the translation is the message, an example of which point is touched on in Christmas in the Trenches.

    …and as in the instant case.

    Some songs benefit from being sung both ways, or multiple ways. In my congregation we sometimes sing Spirit of Life in two languages. Also De Colores. Also Oh, Come All Ye Faithful. (To include our Roman neighbors, as Lioness is quick to point out.)

    Further commentary on that selfsame instant case.

    RonF:

    My personal favorite is Bushmills’ 21-year-old Single Malt Irish Whiskey.

    Well, well. If ever I’m in your region, I’ll bring along a bottle of single malt and perhaps with sufficient lubrication we can solve the world’s problems together – or at least find points of agreement on the topic of single malts.

    And for the best of them, we can decide whether to call them by name in English or in Scots Gaelic.

    Grace

  43. 43
    JutGory says:

    Disclaimer: I have not seen the ad and have little interest to.

    Amp (and RonF):

    I have an idea about the “fury.” They see an agenda. If you recall, there was also a Cheerios ad featuring a bi-racial child (Gracie, I think) and her parents (I don’t know if this was an actual family, or just actors). Well, this was the second commercial featuring them and apparently there was a big uproar over the first one (cries of racism, etc. I did not know about the hullaballoo until they announced there was going to be a new commercial about them on the Super Bowl).

    Me? I liked both commercials. They were cute. I noticed the inter-racial couple, but gave it not a second thought. After hearing about the uproar, and General Mills staunch defense of the first commercial, my question was: “Did General Mills set out to make a cute family-oriented commercial? Or, did General Mills want to make a cute family-oriented commercial that showed off how cutting edge and inclusive they are by making a commercial that they know will be controversial, so that they can then show everyone how enlightened and progressive they are?” I hope my first question is the right one.

    With this Coke ad (which I have not seen), I really don’t think I would have a problem with it. However, if Coke was trying to show how enlightened and multi-cultural they are by making an ad to create controversy so that they can pull out their holier-than-thou persona, then fuck them. Honestly, don’t insult my intelligence; it has self-esteem issues!

    Sure, all marketing is “propaganda,” and all marketing is manipulative. But, when the propaganda and manipulation is not about how great the product is, but how great the producer of the product is, people feel insulted.

    For example, I heard the Coke ad had a gay couple in it. Was Coke sucking up to GLADD, or were they manipulating GLADD? Or, were they trying to get gay people to buy their product? Or, were they trying to show that they are morally superior because they are not afraid to make a controversial ad with gay people in it?

    So, Marcus the Confused, it is not that difference frightens them (as much as you may be convinced that it is so), but that condescension insults them.

    And, to answer Grace Annam, they drink whatever the hell they want.

    That is a big difference between conservatives and liberal/progressives. Conservative don’t think the “personal is political” the way the left does. Your choice of beverage is not a political statement. For the left, your choice of chicken fast food places or pizza delivery company is a political act.

    And, so these companies pander (or manipulate) the lefties who can’t fucking pick out laundry detergent unless they know it is dolphin-free, organic, sustainably produced by fair wage workers and packaged in bio-degradable materials, sustainably produced by union laborers. So, maybe these ads work well on lefties. But, they annoy the crap our of conservatives, because they come off as preachy propaganda.

    I don’t know. That’s my take.

    -Jut

  44. 44
    Ruchama says:

    I have an idea about the “fury.” They see an agenda. If you recall, there was also a Cheerios ad featuring a bi-racial child (Gracie, I think) and her parents (I don’t know if this was an actual family, or just actors).

    Actors. The guy who played the father is the same actor who played Agent Henricksen on Supernatural a few years ago. (He’s also been in a ton of other stuff, but that’s where I recognized him from.)

    As for the gay family in the Coke ad, I hadn’t noticed them until someone pointed them out. They’d just registered to me as “people roller-skating.” After it was pointed out that they were supposed to be a gay family, I looked again, and I could see that their body language was conveying that, but they were on screen for just a few seconds — not really enough time for me to see anything other than roller-skating people.

  45. 45
    RonF says:

    Grace:

    Oh, broadly speaking, I prefer the originals, too. O Tannenbaum, for instance, is better in German, and I don’t speak German.

    I don’t speak it, but I can sing it (in other words, I can pronounce it correctly but I don’t always know what the words actually literally mean). Danish was a real problem. When you come across a syllable that ends in “d” you end up swallowing an “l” instead, and it’s just close enough to German to hose up your German.

    Well, well. If ever I’m in your region, I’ll bring along a bottle of single malt and perhaps with sufficient lubrication we can solve the world’s problems together – or at least find points of agreement on the topic of single malts.

    I have done extensive field research in the subject of single malts. What I have found so far is that more field work is needed.

  46. 46
    Marcus the Confused says:

    So, Marcus the Confused, it is not that difference frightens them (as much as you may be convinced that it is so), but that condescension insults them.

    What condescension? There is nothing in that ad that is anyway condescending to anyone. If anything, the people doing all the whining and moaning are upset because they are NOT being condescended to (or rather pandered to). They are upset because they don’t see people who look like them and sound like them in that commercial.

    Now, you might make the argument that people who are not white, male, heterosexual, English speakers are being pandered to but even if that were true, so what? Considering how excluded non white, male, heterosexual, English speakers have been in the past (and for the most part, continue to be), a little leveling of the playing field doesn’t bother me a bit (and I am a white, male, heterosexual, English speaker).

    The reality is this: Corporations are driven by the bottom line. They go with what will bring them the most profit. They are very quick to change if it is deemed necessary to ensure profit. The reason why some corporations are adopting pro-multicultural, pro-gay advertising is because they believe that this is the future trend of America.

    So as not to be completely cynical, I’ll grant that some in the Corporate board rooms are decent people who want to promote a more inclusive America (or, to put it into conservative speak: liberals engaged in a conspiracy to subvert American values), but most just want to make sure their advertising appeals to the largest base and pisses off the least number of people. If they thought that a jingoistic appeal to white males would accomplish that then they would have had scantily clad white women in red, white, and blue body paint singing patriotic songs.

    I remain convinced that the complainers, fearing difference, see that self same trend. They know that America is (slowly but surely) is moving in the direction of greater inclusivity. It both scares the shit out of them and pisses them off.

  47. 47
    Ampersand says:

    Jut:

    That is a big difference between conservatives and liberal/progressives. Conservative don’t think the “personal is political” the way the left does. Your choice of beverage is not a political statement. For the left, your choice of chicken fast food places or pizza delivery company is a political act.

    So you think that there aren’t conservatives saying they won’t buy Coke because of this ad? Or who made a point of buying Chick-Fil-A? Or who are trying to boycott the Girl Scouts?

    Do you honestly believe that only liberals in this country ever boycott products or seek to support particular comments for political reasons?

    I mean, what you said is so obviously self-aggrandizing “my team is better, your team stinks” nonsense – and more importantly, nonsense that is in flagrant contradiction to reality - that it’s hard to even know how to respond.

    I actually think the quest for Personal Purity In What You Buy is pretty foolish, whether it’s left-wingers or right-wingers doing it. But it’s silly to pretend only one side does it.

  48. 48
    Hugh says:

    If you define foreign language as “not the native language of anybody born in the country”, I think you’ll find there are very few foreign languages anywhere in the world. I guess Vatican City would have some.

  49. 49
    Myca says:

    So you think that there aren’t conservatives saying they won’t buy Coke because of this ad? Or who made a point of buying Chick-Fil-A? Or who are trying to boycott the Girl Scouts?

    Or the (presumably conservative) fellow in This! Very! Thread! who summed up his complaints as:

    America the Beautiful is a revered song and all who want to be Americans should want to sing it in English to demonstrate that they want to be American.
    No more Coke for my family unless Coke apologizes to those who are American and those who want to be American. Those who want to be American can demonstrate they want be American by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem and America the Beautiful in English.

    We don’t need to spin out abstract theories about how much more intellectually sophisticated conservatives must be because they just loathe condescension … we’ve got a complaint right here. Let’s look at this one.

    —Myca

  50. 50
    closetpuritan says:

    The United States-as-entity differs from the Native Americans, and settlers, and British Colonies. Its formative documents were wholly written in English, and all formal communications at the government level were (until fairly recently) conducted only in English–given that the country treated NAs as enemies, it doesn’t seem sensible to assign their language to the country as a whole.

    But is “America The Beautiful” about the United States as a government entity? Does a language really have to be used in government paperwork to be considered a native language, and languages that are not so used become foreign languages? (Stateless languages?) I wouldn’t assign Native American languages to “the country as a whole”–they are not the native language, they are each a native language.

    We aren’t frozen in time. We don’t think of Native Americans as enemies any more; officially, the US Government is supposed to protect tribal lands.

  51. 51
    rimonim says:

    closetpuritan,

    all formal communications at the government level were (until fairly recently) conducted only in English

    This is incorrect, unless you’re really stretching the definition of “recently.” The state constitution of New Mexico, to take one example, was written in English & Spanish. NM became a state in 1912; the constitution was written several years earlier. Keres, incidentally, is also native to NM, where much of the commercial was filmed.

    I like your framing of “the” vs “a” native language. I don’t think it makes sense to say the US has any one native language.

  52. 52
    mythago says:

    My observation is the same as what numerous studies have shown, which is that where more than one language is spoken in a home, it’s the immigrant who speaks it. Their children speak little of that language (except for perhaps Spanish in certain communities) and the next generation none at all.

    So, what, first-generation immigrants can barely communicate with their own children, and there’s a complete linguistic barrier with the grandkids? Really, RonF?

  53. 53
    Charles S says:

    Mythago,

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/02/07/second-generation-americans/
    http://www.pewhispanic.org/2007/11/29/english-usage-among-hispanics-in-the-united-states/

    There are certainly people who can’t converse with their 1st generation immigrant grandparents, but most immigrants learn English to some degree.

  54. 54
    Ruchama says:

    My dad’s grandmother lived with my dad’s family when he was growing up. She only spoke German and he only spoke English. He says that he could communicate with her, but I’m not really sure how. (His parents were also immigrants, but they came to the US when they were about 30, and they learned English. His grandmother was 60 when she came over, and she said that she was an old lady and wasn’t going to waste her time learning a new language that she was going to die before she ever really got a chance to use. She lived to 103, and never learned it.)

  55. 55
    Duncan says:

    After hearing about the uproar, and General Mills staunch defense of the first commercial, my question was: “Did General Mills set out to make a cute family-oriented commercial? Or, did General Mills want to make a cute family-oriented commercial that showed off how cutting edge and inclusive they are by making a commercial that they know will be controversial, so that they can then show everyone how enlightened and progressive they are?” I hope my first question is the right one.

    I doubt very much that advertising people would have been unaware of the ramifications of the commercial they were making. But here are some questions for you. 1) Why should a commercial featuring a mixed-race family be considered cutting-edge, let alone “enlightened and progressive”, in the United States, where mixed-race people have been present all through our history? 2) Given this reality, why should any Americans react at all to a mixed-race family in a cereal commercial, let alone with the fury that drove many of the negative reactions to it? I have some other examples for you: the fury over black performers playing black characters in the movie of The Hunger Games; or the fury over an eleven-year-old American boy with a Spanish name singing the national anthem in English before a basketball game, based on the assumption that he must be Mexican, and therefore should not be singing the American national anthem.

    I hardly watch TV, and certainly not the Superbowl, so I only heard about the fuss over the commercial afterward. But though I’m a white Anglophone male who grew up in the Midwest in the 1950s, the only reaction I can recall ever having had to hearing originally English-languages songs sung in other languages was delight. But then I also learned that many popular songs I heard growing up were actually translated from other languages. Ditto for Christmas carols. And I wonder how many of the people who’re throwing tantrums over this Coke commercial read the Holy Bible (as I’m sure they d0) in the original Hebrew and Greek rather than English.

  56. 56
    Sebastian says:

    So, what, first-generation immigrants can barely communicate with their own children, and there’s a complete linguistic barrier with the grandkids? Really, RonF?

    Almost, Mythogo. They communicate just fine, but it English.

    Below is my experience with the Eastern European communities. Most of my friends are Slavs of some kind, and they know a lot of their compatriots who are not-first generation (my friends mostly are)

    It goes like this:

    Up until 3-4 years of age, the grand parents manage to build proficiency in their native language, enough so that the kids are truly bilingual. If there are no grand parents, some parents actually avoid speaking in their language in front of their kids.

    At around 5, Russian/Bulgarian/Serbian/Polish becomes poison to the kid. There is no minority as universally reviled in American media as Slavs. In movies, Slavs are commonly the designated villains, in literature a Slavic name is a shortcut to ‘crook’, ‘traitor’ or ‘creep’, and Slavs are seldom if ever protesting that treatment except amongst themselves.

    By 10, most Slav kids in my experience do not speak the Slavic languages at all, and understand them worse than I do, and my knowledge has been purely picked up by hanging out with Slavs since my second week at MIT. When they try to speak, it’s often embarrassing, because speaking correctly those languages is damn hard (I speak four languages, but Slavic languages with their gendered cases, huge number of tenses, etc… are daunting)

    Then, as they become teenagers, they suddenly realize that having a language that those around you do not speak is pretty useful, and that some of their elder compatriots throw great parties and run cool bars. And then they try to pick the language back. The grandparents are happy to help, and there seems to be a lot of skill left from the infancy, but still, some never recover the language to the point that they can pass for a native speaker, even with me. Yes, even Russians from little Russia who tend to take Russian at school.

    But where you are wrong is that the generations are unable to communicate between themselves. I do not know a single Slav whose English is not at least serviceable, and English is what Slavs of different nationalities use to talk amongst themselves, even when they’re proficient in the other’s language. Bulgarian/Macedonian, Russian/Ukranian, Serb/Bosnian are barely distinguishable from each other, but you’ll seldom see a native speaker of one use the other.

    In any case, yes, RonF is correct that many second/third generation Slav may not speak their parent language, and many of those that do, speak it imperfectly. Of course, when it comes to Spanish, Korean, or Tagalog it’s a TOTALLY different story. Mandarin/Cantonese goes both ways.

  57. 57
    closetpuritan says:

    rimonim:
    all formal communications at the government level were (until fairly recently) conducted only in English

    This is incorrect, unless you’re really stretching the definition of “recently.” The state constitution of New Mexico, to take one example, was written in English & Spanish.

    That first paragraph of my last comment was actually a quote from gin & whiskey that I forgot the html on (sorry for the confusion)–but good to know!

  58. 58
    mythago says:

    Charles S. @53: RonF was saying that the children of immigrants (other than some Hispanics) speak ‘very little’ of their parents’ native language, and only the immigrant parent speaks that language ‘in the home’. This means that the immigrant parents and their children can’t communicate, since the immigrants speak a language ‘at home’ that their children don’t speak. This is manifestly silly, and, as your links show, a simplistic statement about a very complex and nuanced reality.

    Sebastian: what you said is not what RonF said.

  59. 59
    Harlequin says:

    So, I was watching the Olympic opening ceremonies tonight. As usual, I had subtitles on (my apartment can get unexpectedly noisy, eg when the three-year-old downstairs decides it’s screaming-and-running-in-circles time–I don’t mind, but it can interfere with the TV watching). Anyway, this Coke ad came on, and the subtitles were the song in English, with notations as to which language the words were being sung in. My favorite part went:

    (English) America!
    (Hindi) America!
    (English) God shed His grace on thee!

    which was funny because the Hindi for “America” is apparently just “America.” So bear in mind, the next time you see this commercial, that the second America is not in English.

  60. 60
    Radfem says:

    I think the ad turned out to be a huge success. Coca Cola knew that they’d get flak but they didn’t care. They were using it as a marketing tool. I guess for better or worse (as cola’s one of the least healthy products), they see America as a place rich in cultural and lingual diversity.

    My state’s English only but if you don’t know Spanish, you’re lost. My city’s third most used language is ASL. I’ve focused on improving my skills on both of those languages for now. I picked up a little French, German and Swahili but not a whole lot.

    L.A. has a two mile area near Hollywood for example where the police department’s struggled to find interpreters because 51 different languages including most of those used in the ad are spoken. That’s the world that exists in our country.

  61. 61
    JutGory says:

    Amp @ 47: “Do you honestly believe that only liberals in this country ever boycott products or seek to support particular comments for political reasons?

    “I mean, what you said is so obviously self-aggrandizing “my team is better, your team stinks” nonsense – and more importantly, nonsense that is in flagrant contradiction to reality – that it’s hard to even know how to respond.”

    Obviously, my hyperbole interfered with my message, but your question is a very important one.

    First, some points of agreement (I hope):

    Can we agree that NALALT and NACALT? General statements about liberals and conservatives are not meant to apply to every particular, especially when we speak in broad terms. There are exceptions and gradations in groups.

    Can we agree that “the personal is political” is a feminist/leftist/liberal notion?

    Can we agree that the left is generally more collectivist or communitarian than the right, who are more individualistic or self-reliant?

    Now, the examples you gave about conservatives are pretty useful (coke, chick fil-a and the girl scouts). 2 out of 3 of those examples are reactionary. The coke and chick fil-a examples are a conservative reaction to an apparent politicization of something personal.

    The Girl Scouts are a bit different and may not qualify as reactionary in the same way. That is more analogous to the Boy Scouts boycott. Just as Boy Scouts faced boycotts, etc. for their stance on homosexuality, the Girl Scouts faced boycotts for their “beliefs” (I did not click your link, but I recall that the dispute had something to do with the “use” (which is why I put “belief” in quotes) of the funds from the sale of Girl Scout cookies). By the way, I bought 3 boxes this past weekend because, whatever they do with the funds, my rebuttal consists of two words: “THIN MINTS!” Both the Boy Scouts controversy and the Girl Scouts controversy could be construed as reactionary, but I think they are not quite the same as the coke/chick fil-a controversies.

    But, I think you are incorrect about your “my team is better, your team stinks” remark. I just think they are two very different ways of perceiving and acting within the world (and there is a lot of overlap between them).

    Broadly speaking, people are 1) social creatures; and 2) selfish creatures. They need communities, even though they annoy the crap out of each other by getting in each other’s way. The left gravitates more toward the “it takes a village” approach, while the right takes more of a “leave me the hell alone” approach. These are not universals and there are overlaps here and there. And, it is generally because most people have these conflicting tendencies in themselves. And, in general, the “social” tendencies are more likely to interfere with the “selfish” tendencies, rather than the other way around. If it didn’t, I would be looking forward to going home and basking in the immense heat of my 500-Watt Beacon of Freedom, instead of the soft glow of my 12-Watt Soft White Glow of Tyranny. Sorry, the hyperbole has a tendency of letting loose on occasion (but it did express the point).

    But, so the “FURY!” you mentioned (and I corrected that for you for dramatic effect) is a reaction to the perceived politicization of something personal. The people complaining are doing so because it appeared to them that coke was making a political statement, and they don’t want to make some political statement by drinking coke.

    tl;dr: my team is better and your team does stink. :)

    -Jut

  62. 62
    Harlequin says:

    Can we agree that the left is generally more collectivist or communitarian than the right, who are more individualistic or self-reliant?

    As a matter of social policy, sure; not necessarily as a matter of personal life choices. (I am reminded of the INTP Prayer: “Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.” In any case, part of the benefit for me of a strong social support system is that I pay my taxes to a faceless bureaucracy, and magically, people in need are more likely to get help. Individual people are scary! Telemarketing fundraisers are terrifying! Though I’m sure they’re lovely people when they’re not telephoning me.)

    In any case:

    Now, the examples you gave about conservatives are pretty useful (coke, chick fil-a and the girl scouts). 2 out of 3 of those examples are reactionary. The coke and chick fil-a examples are a conservative reaction to an apparent politicization of something personal. [...] the Girl Scouts faced boycotts for their “beliefs”

    The “apparent” there is really important. Chick Fil-A had given millions of dollars to antigay organizations over the years before the speech that set off the firestorm; I spent the first few weeks of that controversy deeply confused, because I didn’t realize that most people didn’t know about their political activities. And while I wouldn’t call it a boycott, most queer people I knew had long ago reduced or eliminated their patronage of the restaurant. It was absolutely political all along, by Chick Fil-A’s own choices, and for the exact same reason that you say the Girl Scouts thing is happening: the use of the money that was paid to them for the food. (It did eventually spiral into something driven more by the speech than by the giving, but people were watching the original speech and then spreading the news precisely because of the company’s history.)

  63. 63
    Alexander Stanislav says:

    I didn’t take offense to this ad but I understand why people are upset by it.

    I don’t have a problem with people speaking other languages in the US as long as most of them also speak English. Why? Because countries work well when people can speak to each other and freely move within the country. When a country is fragmented into different communities that speak different languages, societal trust decreases, and people prefer to do business with people that speak their language which decreases trade. When language barriers are also accompanied by differences in socioeconomic status, decreased social mobility might also be a problem. Some countries can pull this off – Switzerland for example: but the US is not Switzerland, their politics and culture is quite different. Add in racial and cultural politics and you have a recipe for disaster.